Awakening Natural Relationship through Camping and Exploration
Closeness with nature begins early at Oak Grove School. The wooded campus is bordered by acres of oak groves and wetlands, and the curriculum and daily schedule provide for large blocks of outdoor activity. On a given day, Preschool and Kindergarten children explore fields in search of seasonal insects and flowers, elementary classes tend herbs and vegetables, Middle School students sketch in a rose garden, and High School sophomores spend biology class in a grove observing the web of life through energy exchange. A familiarity with and comfort in nature is emphasized across the school, and nowhere is this better manifested than in the camping program. Through a graduated sequence of trips, students build their confidence, self-sufficiency, awareness, and appreciation of beauty. Most importantly, they develop self-knowledge through a relationship with nature and each other.
For our parents, these trips offer an opportunity to practice trusting other adults to care for our children away from home. From the moment of birth our children begin growing away from us. Each moment brings new opportunities for children to gain confidence in their ability to be separate, for parents to trust that the child is capable of separating, and for both to trust that this separation is natural and safe. These trips allow the child and parent an ever-increasing practice in separating. There are things that cannot be learned conceptually—digging a hole in the wilderness to go to the bathroom, overcoming a fear of water or heights, pushing ourselves physically beyond what our mind believes is possible (just one more step), and, perhaps the most difficult of them all, letting a child grow away from us.