Summer Camp: Teaching with Nature (with Sample Curriculum & Activity!)

by | Jul 25, 2015 | Environmental Education

kids picking fruit
We love Yoga Calm Summer Camp week, which just wrapped up here at our studio in Portland. There’s just nothing quite like kids and summer – nature explorations, playing with friends, lots of physical activity, healthy fruits and vegetables from the back garden, and daydreaming in the outdoors!

child in nature
And of course there’s lots of learning going on, too.

This year, we spent each day focused on a specific environmental element: earth, water, air and, yes, even fire! Since fire is the element of transformation, the kids harnessed it by learning how to make sun tea from mint in the garden and applesauce from fresh apples, right off our trees.

kids making applesauce

Another day, the focus was air. Here’s a sample agenda for that day.
making bubbles

(Here’s the YouTube video on how to make these huge, cool bubbles)

We love this way of teaching, using the nature right outside the backdoor as a springboard for environmental education. We believe in connecting children to what they love about nature, stoking their curiosity and using that to teach about natural history and science. Instead of focusing on environmental “problems,” we focus on people doing good things in the world. It’s the focus of both Lynea’s book Good People Everywhere and our environmental education course “Love, Knowledge and Action,” in which we teach adults how to lead children in simple environmental explorations that embody yoga, science and storytelling.

kid climbing tree

Action Creates Hope

After Lynea’s years of teaching environmental ed. through outdoor schools and in Jim’s work with the National Science Foundation, we really believe that we have to help people find hope, to focus on solutions. As Bryan Welch puts it in one of our favorite books, Beautiful and Abundant,

Human beings need ways of thinking about our responsibilities that don’t lead us to frustration. That relief we feel when we stop thinking about the environment can be replace by the satisfaction of doing something about it.

teaching in garden

Action has always been our mantra. Whether it’s education, therapy or environmental stewardship, we love to work together, striving to create more holistic, self-empowering solutions.

This relaxation story from our forthcoming Environmental Education Guide sort of encapsulates and embodies this approach.

The Power of Collaboration

environmental artist Wendy DunderExperiencing this collaborative power is central part of our summer camps. One of the collaborators we were especially blessed with this year was environmental artist Wendy Dunder. Having grown up on an orchard in Hood River, Oregon, Wendy has been inspired by nature all her life and loves working with kids to make large-scale collaborative artworks such as mosaics for skate parks and school murals.

This year at camp, she led the kids in creating a mosaic nature mural that now hangs by the stairs to our studio space.

kids making a mosaic mural



There are even more photos of this year’s Camp on our Facebook page. Check them out…

And there are still some Yoga Calm camps still to come this year in Oregon and Colorado. Visit our kids’ class schedule to learn more.

Did your child attend a Yoga Calm Summer Camp this year? Share your thoughts about the experience in the comments section!

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