Updated: Dec 13, 2021
As the days have become drastically colder and I reach for my thermals and insulated pants more frequently to keep me warm while outside, I think back with a smile to just a few short months ago when my first morning thought was, "How am I going to keep the campers and staff from melting today?".
As the hot summer days came and went (and we dodged the thunderstorms that often accompanied them), we found that using nature to stay cool with no A.C. was pretty manageable: The farm team at Fire Ring Farm got creative by giving the kids cooling herbal foot baths with the lavender and sage leaves they had helped the kids harvest in the herb garden and even played games of water hose tag in the grassy field.
The Everyone Outside forest team's solution was usually: Stream Day! On those hot July afternoons, as we hiked the children into the wooded area of the Palmer Preserve* (surrounding our home base at Fire Ring Farm), we felt the air instantly grow cooler, shaded by the tall green oaks, maples and beeches. As soon as we reached either of the streams we often visited, shoes and socks quickly came off and hot little feet were cooled by the cold water of the stream as we played in little pools, searched the rocks for salamanders and frogs, explored the different kinds of mosses, built bridges out of fallen logs or just sat and listened to the sound of the water trickling through the forest.
"Stream Days" were one of the favorites of campers and staff alike as every time we went back, the environment had changed just a bit and there was always something new to explore.
I also feel warmth and energy of friendships made and strengthened this summer spilling over into these cold, dark months. Those few weeks we spent together this past summer connecting with nature paved the way for children and staff from different communities in CT to meet and connect with each other. As staff members, it was our favorite thing ever to see children yell each other's names and run to hug each other when they arrived in the morning last July. And now, well into the beginning of the winter months, it is awesome to hear about friends who met at camp this summer continuing to meet up for playdates, apple picking and hikes. Summer camp staff and parents of campers are meeting up for Adult Herbal classes at Fire Ring Farm and many staff came back in the fall to help put the gardens "to bed" for the winter.
I am so grateful to Fire Ring Farm for the amazing partnership we have developed with them. We appreciate the wonderful summer staff they helped us hire and their magical space we are continuing to use for our fall and winter programs.
The community we are building through these Farm and Forest programs and our partnership with Fire Ring Farm gives me warmth and energy to make it through these cold, winter months with a smile on my face. I'm happily anticipating more time together when the days grow longer and the hot sun reappears. - Lisa
Please consider making a year-end donation to Everyone Outside to help us provide our summer camp experience to campers and staff who would otherwise be unable to attend. Click here to make a donation.