This past week, I spent a day up the Kispiox River at the Bear Claw Lodge to lead some art workshops for a kids’ Conservation Camp. It’s a week-long camp where the kids are entirely outdoors the whole time, doing all kinds of activities, like rafting, river awareness, wilderness awareness, tracking, archery, horseback riding, and of course responsibilities are an integral part of working together and bonding. My eldest son, Ari, is there, so I got to hang out with him as I lead this group of 19 kids ranging in age from 9-15.

To summarize my day with them, I started with talking about the connection of Art and Nature, and the intimacy of immersing yourself in the sensory experience. I had them pair up and lead each other on ‘blind walks’ where each would take turns closing their eyes and be lead around slowly, to touch and feel textures and listen to sounds. Then, reintroducing the visual sense, I gave them encouragement to take paper and charcoal, conte or a pencil and choose a quiet spot to draw something they see – whether realistic or just attracted to patterns and designs and shapes in nature. We gathered together after drawing to share observations about the process, about the results, about what feelings came up.  We spoke also of the significance of finding wholeness in the natural world, and how it is reflected in Body, Mind, Spirit balancing, and how being in Nature helps recalibrate that.  Art can be used as simply being in the present moment, and also used as a way to communicate the importance of protecting Nature.  I told them about environmental installations, and then the kids set about wandering around their camp area and further, collecting materials and creating things. We all worked for quite a while, and then as people finished, we had an outdoor art gallery tour to visit everyone’s installation sites.  Everyone was so engaged, and it was wonderful to see all the kids’ creativity, and hear their ideas!

Experiences like this are so valuable for kids’ development. I am glad to have been a part of that for this group.