Go on an Outdoor Adventure at WinSportMay 12, 2022
By Hanna Schulze
WinSport Outdoor Programs Educator
Most of us remember how fun it was to play outside as a child. Getting our hands dirty without a care in the world was a simple joy that for many of us now falls into the background of our ever-so-busy lives. I grew up exploring the wilderness. Spending time in the forest has always been a big part of my life and I know that it has shaped me as a person. My introduction to outdoor, child-led, curiosity-based programming happened in high school and the moment I started working with a nature-based pre-school in my hometown, I realized just how impactful this type of programming and lifestyle is. This is what brought me to WinSport and to Wilderness Explorers.
I have narrowed down our programming into two key values: play and connection. I wouldn’t even say it’s a lifestyle; it’s a core need for all humans. Wilderness Explorers provides a space, in a constantly developing and tech-driven world, for children to reconnect and create the foundation to bring these values into our participants’ own lives and families.
Play is essential!
Even with your fond memories of playing as a child, do you know the essential development that play provides? We should treat a child’s concentration during play with the same importance as an adult’s focus during work. Play helps build a sense of self, confidence, and passion. On a deeper level, children are wired to seek out the developmental stimulation they need. Seemingly mundane tasks to adults can be a world of play for a child. Play in nature allows for beautiful open-ended learning to occur.
Our Wilderness Explorers program allows the children to guide the play. We offer loose parts and an unstructured environment to really see where their passions take them. We build gross motor skills running over rocks and logs. We lean into our artistic side when we make beautiful things. We are Explorers.
Three points of connection
Something I have started saying to children is “the trees may not talk, but we can still listen.” This is such an important part of connection building. At Wilderness Explorers, we focus on all modes of connection. We connect with ourselves. Through sit spots, moments of mindfulness and the emotionally grounding capabilities of the earth, we look inwards. Connecting with ourselves is what develops better emotional regulation, communication, and a sense of self. I strongly believe nature is the best way to look inwards.
The next connection we make at Wilderness Explorers is the one with our instructors. Call us what you like: instructors, mentors, guides. We are there to allow your child to find their passions and to guide them in their nature exploration. We know when to step in and when to step back. This action of stepping in and stepping back fosters a connection between explorer and instructor. As leaders, we build a sense of trust that we will always be there to support and guide our explorers when they need it but that they also have the space to show their independence and resourcefulness.
Our final connection is with Mother Nature. Like all connections, this relationship takes work. We take moments in our day to connect. We observe the movements of animals and feel the cool breeze whistle in the trees. Our sit spots help build this connection through intentional moments of stillness. In these moments we listen to the trees and the lessons they share with us.
What: Outdoor Adventure programs at WinSport
When: The next intake for spring programs starts May 23. Summer camps are available starting in July
Why: Get outdoors, learn through play, build new connections!