Through councils, the children develop the skills that are essential to healthy relationships with others and the Earth community. Every year the theme is woven throughout four areas of study. Thus the camp tells the thematic concept or story from these different creative forms of knowing.
In nature class, facilitated by a Master’s level nature-based therapist, campers will learn to express their insights and feelings, listen to others, and work through conflict with imaginative, sensory, and nature-based play.
The experiences in the nature classes help bring to life the theme of the camp and create the meaning behind the art classes and music. For example, one year our focus was “Council of the Sky”. Through story, council meetings and nature based activities, the campers explored the wisdom gained from looking at the world we live in from a “bird’s eye view” and “as the crow flies.” At this stage of development, children and youth often have flying dreams and like Leonardo Da’Vinci, are possessed with trying to figure out how to fly. It seems that early on, we as humans have an instinct that drives us to take on the wider vision or the viewpoints of others in order to understand our world and our individual place in it. The nature-based classes will help bring these instincts to awareness.
The curriculum, developed by AJ and Erin Pratt, is inspired by the work of Richard Louv, author of Last Child In the Woods, David Sobel, author, professor, and director of Antioch Center for Place Based Education and psychologist, Bill Plotkin, author of Nature and the Human Soul, and others.
The nature component will be taught by Erin Pratt. Erin has her Master’s in Wilderness Therapy and brings many years of experience working with children, youth, and families in nature-based settings.
Puppet and Mask Making
Under the direction of professional artists that are experienced in the Heart of the Beast style mask and puppet making, campers construct the creatures the camp is exploring each year. From elephants to whales, wolves, horses, and bird campers have the experience of becoming an artist as they become the animal they are learning from. These creations become part of the musical theater celebration.
Children will experience the world of the animals and elements we are exploring each year through song and dance. The rhythms of the natural world will reverberate through their play of drums, xylophones, and glockenspiels. Through the voice of song and instruments, the children will speak as other beings.
This musical experience will be finely crafted under the direction of internationally known Master Orff instructor, Mary Helen Solomon. The Orff music approach being used allows for children with past musical experiences to grow in the complexity possible with the instruments while allowing beginners to be successful as well.
The campers will be guided by professional dancers and Heart of the Beast trained instructors in how to move their bodies and artistic creations as if they really are their creation. This will be coordinated with the music and stories that help bring to life the theme of the camp.
Community Arts and Crafts
Based on the skills, gifts, and interests of the camp and larger MNIPL community, volunteers will offer activities such as from beading to kite making, hula-hooping, woodworking. This is a rich intergenerational relationship building part of the camp day.
On Friday of the second week of camp parents, friends and community members gather as the campers share the stories of camp, with a final celebration showcasing their visual art, music, movement and nature experiences.