A week at Natural Leaders Legacy Camp
by Brianne Studer, Program Director -------------------------------------------------------
Every day during the summer, I am welcoming groups of children out to Farrington Nature Linc for a field trip during their summer camps. It is rewarding work. I get to introduce campers to farm animals, look for animals tracks on hikes, or help campers make a mask or animal they can take home with them. I manage a wonderful team of 9 youth and adult staff who help me shepherd the approximately 1200 campers and teens we bring out to Farrington each summer through the series of activities we provide. It is, however, also exhausting. This summer, for one week, I got to take a break.
In the spring, I applied to attend the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp. It is a leadership training offshoot of Richard Louv’s grassroots Children and Nature Network designed to support and mentor the Millennial generation to become advocates for children in nature. The program Natural Leaders Legacy Camp is available for those aged 19-29, and I am 29 so this was my last chance. As it turns out, I am old!
As the camp approached, I worked long and hard to make sure I could do everything possible to set Farrington's staff up for success while I was gone, and then I flew off to West Virginia to the National Conservation and Training Center, confident that all would go smoothly without me. Nearly 50 people boarded a bus from Dulles airport . We headed to Legacy Camp as strangers and five days later, many would be my friends.
Over the course of the training, I attended many workshops on everything from community organizing and goal setting to team building activities and psychology in the outdoors. Many provided great reminders of work that I have done in tidbits in my professional career. Others gave me an opportunity to share the amazing work I am lucky enough to do at Farrington Nature Linc with others with similar missions. I learned about different funding opportunities and avenues to connect with others within the Children and Nature Network. I even participated in a BioBlitz Dance that I will definitely introduce to the campers in our weeklong program when they come out the week of August 4th!
The most important gift from my week at Legacy Camp was the opportunity to connect with other current and future leaders in environmental education. Whether in a canoe on the Potomac River, over an amazing cream pie (seriously, a different cream pie every night!), or sharing our stories over a campfire and under the stars, engaging with others doing similar work all across the country reminded me of how lucky I am to do this work.
I believe that having access to these individuals, and to the Natural Leaders Network as a whole, will enable to me to help Farrington Nature Linc increase our impact on children throughout the greater Boston area.
More than that, I am thankful for a week that started with delicious, delicious wild thimbleberries, and ended with my first shooting star of the year.
“Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” -- John Muir."