Category Archives: Family Camp

Family Fun, Parenting classes, family yoga, great family style meals & more

To Know The World Is Good

 

 

For the young child especially, but for all children as well, it is a rich life-lesson to experience “whole process” learning.  We live in a  fast-paced, fragmented world.  With the SOLs and Kindergarten Boot Camp looming large on our national landscape, when does a child have the opportunity to take a field trip to the apple orchard, bring the apples “home” to school,  process and cook them into apple butter to eat, weekly, on their home baked bread?   Or plant bulbs in the fall, and jump for joy as they peek through the late winter snow.  Activities as simple as working day after day on the apple butter, or using growing muscles to dig a bed for an autumn bulb….then sweetly forgetting all winter long….only to be amazed by early crocuses, teach endurance, patience and the reward of caring-for.  The young child learns it is good to live in a strong body, to work and care for the earth and oneself.  And to share this sense of goodness with those we love.  The buzz-word these days is self-regulation, but we just call it a healthy childhood.

Science on the Playground

“How does the world work, and how do I fit into it?” This is the daily, living question of the young child. We can allow plenty of time and plenty of space for our children to wonder, to explore, to experiment, to keep trying, to learn. And isn’t much of learning discovering the right questions to ask? In this way, the questions remain alive; the “answers” are part of an on-going process. When we allow this hands-on exploratory learning, and do not limit  the questions or answers with our linear adult concepts, the children learn in the same way Mother Nature herself learns: through scaffolding, or “serial functional progression.” The answers become a platform for the next set of really interesting questions. Our children experience themselves as avid students of life.

In these photos we see the Universe hard at work: How many stumps, boards, bricks and pine cones does it take to make the see-saw go down and the children go up? How do “up and down” operate, and what is the relationship between stumps, elbow grease and results? And what might be the relationship between the big black bugs and the small brown one (in the blue bowl)?  When we learn to live the questions, life is rich!

Bridge between School and Home

Hello, friends!  It is September and school has begun again.  The children are full of joy to be back into the simple warm rhythms; enfolded by this rhythmic flow, they grow more fully into themselves.  Here is what one parent wrote me about the bridge her child has built between home and school:

“The school day doesn’t just stop when the day is over. Greer plays school whenever she is at home as well. At home she gets the chance to be the teacher. She sets up our living room like the living room at The Rose Garden. Moving the coffee table and couches so that the space is just right. She brings in her own chair along with a cup of tea and some crackers. She sets her babies up in a semi circle around her so everyone can see and then she begins to “read” her story always starting with the chime of the bell which at our house is the clinging of silverware. She then sips on her tea as she tells her story with a big (all words) book in her lap.

When the time for resting comes up she prepares by laying all the colored silkies around the room and placing each baby it the appropriate place. She covers them says sweet words to them and gives each a gentle rocking motion to help the fall asleep. Once everyone is satisfied she goes to her chair and has a sip of tea.

Watching this take place in my own living room gives me a sense of satisfaction and pure joy. What my husband and I are giving our youngest of three is a treasure that is molding her into the gentle and kind human-being that we had hoped for when we decided to become parents.

Thank you to Sharifa and  Rebecca for keeping us grounded in what really matters in life. The innocence and love our children bring us everyday.”  Shannon

And thank you, Shannon, for sharing this with us! These rhythms create the foundation for a lifetime.  During the summer, I had the pleasure of talking, on separate occasions, with two of my former students who are now college students.  Each young woman told me how deeply her early years had formed and shaped her.  The years spent in this forest busily building “homes” for insects & feeding the birds as well as singing, painting, playing  and listening intently to stories had given them a deep love for the world, and also a beginning direction in their future work.  One young woman is studying environmental law and she said she paints for pleasure, while the other is a poet as well as environmental activist.

The environment of our home gives shape to the young soul; let us be joyful for this gift, as we go about  our “daily round!”

New Land

As some of you know, we have been in the process of acquiring two acres which adjoin The Rose Garden land. This is very exciting new land! It is amazing that such a small amount of earth can contain so many diverse micro-ecoystems! Just beyond our flower garden, we now have opened up a “circle walk”. Through the berry patch, past the giant poplar whose roots trail down to the creek, and up to the huge rock outcropping! This rock formation will lend itself well to games of valiant explorers. We then walk further into the deep forest to the moist and magical glade where the wood thrush nests. Now across the new footbridge, and into the poplar grove on the other side of the creeks’ “upper fork” .

This serene grove is a place to meander, rest, picnic, and play. It is here that we can see the small waterfall, and rock water slide. We also see the place where the two streams meet, for this new land contains all the vigorous energy of confluence! Beyond the quiet grove, we cross the creek’s “lower fork” and rush up the hillside to the open field! Having lived for so long under the umbrella of the trees, it is true pleasure to have what will soon be an open, sunny meadow. This is a work in progress. Slowly we will make benches, rustic chairs, tables and play structures from the wood and logs offered by the land.

It is a time for celebration and joy, as The Rose Garden becomes steward to the New Land!

Family Camp is Coming

It is summer in Virginia. The earth is made soft by a million autumns laying down carpets of gold, crumbled into black humus. Morning mist rises from the creek-bed. The wood thrush announces joy. The ruby-throated hummingbird peers in my kitchen window before she sips and veers away. Afternoon cicadas tune up for the evening performance. Human children join this forest community. They are just as tender and vulnerable, just as bursting with life force as their brothers and sisters, the furred, feathered and finned ones with whom they play, side-by-side. Each one of them needs our love and protection; we need their fresh hope.

Love, protection, freshness, hope. All of this is alive for the children, as they play barefoot in the garden, splash free in the creek. Days slip by in a primordial “here-ness, now-ness” Growth, exploration, new neural pathways, friendship, home-made meals, all are contained in the over-arching Presence of the living forest.

Soon, we will be joined by families coming from as far away as San Francisco and Florida, as well as those coming from a few miles down the road. For five days we will put our lives together, alongside the lives of the woodland creatures, and together we will all know something new!

In The Garden, Again!

Today the children, Rebecca and I returned to the garden playground! Last autumn, after the Harvest Festival, the children and their parents came to school for a Saturday picnic, to “put the garden to bed”. We raked out the leaves, took the scarecrow apart, and spread her straw into the beds for winter mulch, pulled out the old stalks, and laid everything to rest for the winter. Through the very long and cold winter, from time to time, a child would ask, “but when do we get to go back to the garden?” Today was the day, and everyone was thrilled! The five year olds were discussing the exact place they had left off playing their “garden games” and the little ones were trying to remember which path we take to get to the garden.

Our garden is a little bright spot in the deep Virginia woods. It is laid out in the curve of our stream, and we must walk across a small footbridge to get there. The children love to play “in the garden” because this includes splashing in the shallow water of the stream, looking for salamanders, water skaters, cray fish and all their relations. As well as the endless back and forth across the little bridge, to play on the swing set, in the sandbox , under the scented branches of the butterfly bush, nibbling herbs and flowers as they go.

It is such a gift to teach these young souls, here in the generous arms of Nature. The children develop intimate relations with the insect and animal world, from the army of worms they unearth (and re-earth!) to the song of the wood-thrush they hear and the footprints of the raccoon in the mud beside the creek.

The native people pray by intoning “All My Relations.” And the children talk of the great family of Nature: our best friends the Rain Fairies, their mother The Great Mother Rain Cloud, Brother Wind, Father Sun. These children have the foundation laid for a life lived experiencing humanity as part of a great seamless Whole. This is preparation for the only future we can sustain. This is our one hope, and they bring their up- springing joy to it!

Create Your Family Culture

Join Sharifa Oppenheimer this summer!

Create Your Family Culture

    Or How to Live your Values amidst the Rising Tide of Commercialism

A Summer Camp for Families with Young Children
July 27th – 31, 2009 Monday – Friday

DESCRIPTION

Parents of young children will  begin to explore the regeneration of 21st century family life.  You will envision the “Star” of your family’s culture, studying deeply your own family’s rhythm, your family’s work together and play together. You will inquire into your child’s life, looking carefully at art, stories and the nature of play itself. The complex and often confusing questions of discipline will be discussed, beginning with your own sense of discipline. You will learn the fine balance of both protecting your children from the effects of this 21st century highly media-saturated culture, while also preparing them as young adults, to step into their world with courage, hope and commitment. read more »

Sticky: Create Heaven on Earth for Your Family !

Let Sharifa Oppenheimer help you create Heaven on Earth for your family!

create  Heaven on Earth for your family!

create Heaven on Earth for your family!


Join her in a variety of ways.

–The Book: Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children

–The School: The Rose Garden, a play oriented outdoorsy early childhood program

–Summer Fun: The Rose Garden Summer Camp, a child’s slow meander through summer
read more »

Family Camp

Join Sharifa Oppenheimer for

HEAVEN ON EARTH

A Summer Camp for Families with Young Children read more »

Sticky: Our Heaven on Earth

Welcome to Our Heaven on Earth.

Parents, do you feel the increasing pressures of 21st century life?
As career expectations rise, and our commercialized culture rushes forward, do you feel the time necessary to nurture your children becomes both more crucial and more difficult to attain? Although our machines and technology offer benefits unimagined even fifty years ago, the shadow side is deepening, as we become isolated from our earth, each other, and ourselves.
What can you do to shift this paradigm?

Let Sharifa Oppenheimer help you create Heaven on Earth for your family! Join her in a variety of ways.