This summer at Trout Lake was a time of exploration, building skills, making friends and of course, having fun!  We marveled at the abundance of pineapple weed.  Exploring the wonderful herb through touch, sight, taste and smell.  We buzzed around the wasps as they buzzed around us and found beautiful natural artwork in their papery hives among the Cedars.  We discussed the healing properties of plantain, paying attention to where it grows and how to recognize it.

This session was full of tools.  The children worked with focus to master the skills of whittling with vegetable peelers; some children working for extended periods of time to get just the right point or level of smoothness.  We introduced sandpaper to take their efforts one step further, noticing the different textures that can be revealed in different bits of wood with different tools.

We also introduced working with hammers and nails in the program this session.  The children worked with intent to drive nails into scraps of lumber; working on building muscles, hand eye coordination and confidence in the “tool zone” under the encouraging supervisions of one of our facilitators.

We spent some wonderful time at the beach enjoying the sunshine.  The children used the kitchen tools to create culinary masterpieces, create streams/wells in the sand and even make sand angels under the sun.  This activity provides endless opportunities for sensory exploration, conversation, co-operation and compromise as the children work on collaborative dishes/projects and share the tools needed to successfully realize their vision.

The trees at Trout Lake have become some of our favourite play spaces.  Trees provide a strong friend to capture our imaginations and challenge our bodies.  The children enjoyed climbing as high as their bodies were ready to explore.  Some stayed close to the ground and others finding a comfy perch among the birds; keeping a watchful eye on their friends and the world down below.  A rope swing tied to our favourite Willow near the beach provided excitement and new opportunities to test our bodies and expand upon all the open ended uses of a good rope.

The pulley and ropes were very popular this session.  Children collaborated in taking turns running the bucket back and forth between two trees.  Sometimes carrying goofy messages, sometimes gifts for friends and sometimes natural tools for creating.  One group also set up elaborate “traps” in the trees with knots so complex they even stumped the teachers when it came time to tear it down.

Some of our groups even organically started games of tug-o-war.  The children worked together to pull the facilitator across a line, working as a team to pull the rope in one direction, cheering each other on and rejoicing in giggles the whole time.

Our Monday groups participated in a planting project this session.  Together we discussed what a plants need to grow and how to care for seedlings.  The children picked what they would like to plant and took their container home to watch it grow and bloom through the summer.

Our summer campers created bird feeders using oranges and bird seed.  We discussed the different types of urban birds we see around Vancouver, wondering what sorts of birds might visit our feeders.

The summer campers also took park on a scavenger hunt in the park.  Together we searched for things such as rocks, bugs, leaves, and a stump; as well as, finding different colours in the natural items of the park.

Both groups partook in nature painting.  Using feathers, leaves and sticks as our brushes, we explored the different textures of nature to create beautiful works of art to take home and enjoy.

The end of each class was spent with a quick visit to the playground were the children could zoom down the slide, try to reach a cloud on the swing, build muscles on the monkey bars and spin themselves dizzy on the tire swing.  It is a wonderful place to play and release some energy before our final circle time with some fun songs and our goodbyes.

It has been a wonderful session together at Trout Lake and we wish you and your family wonderful adventures together during these last few weeks of summer.  Our adventures together begin again September 12, visit Trout Lake Community Center to register.