Have you heard about “Forest Kindergarten”? What on earth is it and what does it have to do with camp? Well, Forest Kindergarten is based on the German “waldkindergarten” model. Strangely, as our ability to study the human brain increases, our value of the simple times of unstructured play during childhood increases as well. Current studies indicate that the intensity and super-scheduled nature of the classroom can be a deterrent to later learning. The solution, get outside and just play! Which is exactly what occurs at Forest Kindergarten. The human brain is busy and at work when children are allowed to simply interact with the outdoor world. You thought that building forts for hours at a time and poking mud puddles with sticks was a waste of time? Not so. Children have a greater capacity to absorb information when they are submerged in nature and a great love of learning can be developed from such an environment.
I read a cool article about outdoor kindergarten this week, so what? What does this have to do with camp?
I live at a Bible Camp, God’s beautiful creation is all around me. Whenever I read something like this, I can’t help but think of camp. Here at Camas Meadows we sing crazy songs, engage in interesting competitions involving mayonnaise and slices of cheese, and learn about God’s great love.
All of this is set within the backdrop of God’s amazing creation. Not only do kids get to read John 3:16 in their Bibles, but they also get to hike to Inspiration Point in the dead of night and gaze upon the vast array of stars spread across the heavens. They tromp through the forest, getting sweaty and tired until finally the canyon view at The Stone Face appears. Steep sandstone cliffs topped by a giant boulder shaped like the stern visage of a mighty Native American Brave. Birdsong and the chattering of squirrels. The mottled shadows and gentle rays of summer sunlight. Spider webs blanketing the undergrowth in the black forest and the silent passage of deer.
God’s creation is astounding and lovely. It is mighty and furious, tender and deadly and strong. Nature points to God in all of His inexplicable holiness. Just as the human brain is stimulated for growth and learning by a few meandering moments on a path through the forest, I believe that God’s creation stirs the soul as well.
Take the time to step outside this week. Run your fingers across the rough tips of grass in an overgrown lawn. Stop and listen to birdsong. Watch a squirrel stealing sunflower seeds from a birdfeeder. Feel the bite of snowflakes against your face during a storm. Watch the rush of clouds across the sky on a windy afternoon. Not only will such activities stir the mind, you just might get a glimpse of the God who made you and loves you as well.