Second grader on the path telling me, “I know where this trail leads!”

“You do?  Where,” I asked?



When I planned the field trips with a Corbett Elementary School teacher, I wondered how many students would be involved?  She smiled.  “Didn’t our principal tell you…we’re bringing the entire school! 

To celebrate spring, in the past three weeks, a herd of kindergarten through high school students have visited the Sandy River Delta.  They came to plant native trees and shrubs, and some spent time walking through the woods.

It has taken me a few decades to realize that when you have children outdoors for a limited amount of time (typically one opportunity), the most fulfilling way to spend those precious hours is to allow the students to explore, especially when the primary goal of the day is to instill a sense of wonder and place.

Third grader discoverer by the river turning to me,”The air smells different here.”  “What does it smell like?”   “Sand.”

I used to believe that outdoor time should support the in-school science curriculum by bringing the ecological concepts we taught to life. And I still do.  However, instead of focusing on reiterating science by sitting in one place, I’ve noticed that the children want to be on foot.  They are ready for exploration as soon as they get off the bus.  As pathfinders, we take turns giving students the walking stick, and as soon as one has it in hand,a new leader is born and off we go in the direction they choose!

“How should we act when we are exploring the forest?”

First grader: “We should be good.”

The combination of first planting native trees, then poking around the natural world complement each other nicely.  All of the kids planting will get plenty of soil on their pants and shirts, and they don’t seem to mind.  They are now in their “Exploring Clothes.”  There is pride and accomplishment in planting their own trees, and afterward, they are ready for movement.

From On the Loose: “Remember thy Creator int he days of thy youth.  rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures.  Let the noon find thee by other lakes and the night overtake thee everywhere at home.  There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here be played.” ~