We've added Mindfulness walks and more!
This summer, under the direction of FNL’s new Program Director, Sarah Kacevich, Nature Linc’s property has become a place to explore new ways to be in nature. You might find children participating in mindfulness-based walks or making Compliment Tea - an activity that requires children to give themselves some love as they pick various plants around our garden and put them into tea bags to take home. Part of the inspiration behind this activity is the cultural and familial traditions of some of the staff and visiting youth, which may involve brewing tea using fresh ingredients rather than conventional tea bags. The focus on paying attention and being mindful in nature begins each morning as campers and their staff arrive. The Program Director gives everyone a brief orientation explaining some basic rules to adhere to throughout the day. As everyone takes a few deep breaths, noticing their bodies and minds, she explains that they might notice they feel a little bit calmer or relaxed by the time the day is over and they are ready to head home.
During our new mindfulness-based walks, children are introduced to the concept of being mindful and aware, and at various points are asked to send breaths throughout their body or walk like a resilient bird. Each walk starts down the path across from the goat pen and into the immense greenery. The children and counselors stop on a boardwalk where swamps trickle underneath and animals like Garter snakes are often spotted. The campers and staff join together to focus on taking a few long, deep breaths, “in through your nose and out through your mouth.” As if by some miracle designed to calm the initial restlessness of elementary-aged kids, the campers and staff alike seem to settle down and take on a sense more of awe than of an anxious pursuit towards the next best thing.
At the end of these walks, campers join Farrington's staff in adding to our summer mandala - an eastern cultural symbol for the universe known for the therapeutic influences involved in its creation. The mandala is made from items such as sticks, flowers and leaves that the children find throughout the walk.
Another way we are bringing in mindfulness and awareness is through our summer art activities. One of the art activities we're doing this summer involves campers using found objects around the property to create their own musical instruments in the form of shakers. They fill containers with things like rocks, sticks, nuts and leaves, then experiment with how different materials create varying sounds. During the activity, we play music that promotes relaxation (for example, Andean pan flute music or bird sounds), and explain that music and sound can be a tool to encourage calmness.