I began my career in outdoor education. For those of you who have participated or taught in such an environment, the power of a human circle for connection, processing, and sharing is an integral element to the work. As an outdoor educator you spend time thinking about forming the circle, location, and even where I stood in the circle. Circle time can both open and close our activities, encourage time to see each other, and listen well before rushing to speak.
In recent years my work has moved indoors more often, and while joyful, has been different. Over the week we hosted our first Nature Based Education Summer Institute. It was an idea born through conversation, and nurtured through collaboration during the last year. On Friday participants gathered to hike to Poplar Hut (Maine Huts and Trails), kayak and write on Porter Lake, and learn about a local homestead at Koviashuvik. As I watched each trip return, it for me was a powerful return to my work in wilderness trips for Chewonki. When the vans would roll in, I remember the sounds of laughter, the sight of sun-kissed noses, and sounds of new friendships. Friday of our Institute was the same. A few of us joined for an evening happy hour, and while some new each, more came to connect, share and be present with other like-minded educators.
Saturday was another beautiful day, and more joined for a day of sessions and new ideas. Already feedback has begun to come in from the day and participants are saying
It was absolutely awesome! I learned so much…I learned a lot. It reinforced what I had already known and also gave me some new content to work with.
Ms. Misner’s powerpoint presentation! Clear and concise – and chock full of great info. I went into the session without a clear plan for reworking our play spaces and without firm criteria to consider while planning. The session totally changed things for me!
I think David Sobel is an inspiration and it was absolutely a pleasure and wonderful to have him speak!
As we closed the day we gathered in a large circle for a song, and a sharing of what we will transfer to our practice. I was inspired to witness the new connections, laughter, and joyful passion that these educators shared with each other.
I am deeply appreciative to the the team that prepared this event, and the many people behind the scenes that made the event possible. It was a fantastic event, and left me feeling reconnected to my work as an educator. To stand in our closing circle, brings me full circle to my purpose as an educator, and reminds me to look for the ways I can bring my practice outside, and the outside to my work.