“There’s faeries around here!” said Rachel Strausbaugh, 6, while helping her fellow campers construct a faerie house to “keep the goblins out.”
Strausbaugh, of Bend, is one of 11 campers participating in Wildheart Nature School’s “Wildheart Hobbit & Faerie Hunters” camp this week at Shevlin Park in Bend.
The Wildheart summer camp program is in its second year with five camps, one each week, from July 7 through Aug. 15. The camps are run by instructors Amara and Rainbow Dreamer and include arts, crafts, nature games and music to inspire campers’ imagination and love of nature.
“We like to incorporate magic into our camps, and the kids really seem to be drawn to that aspect of being in nature,” Amara said Monday. “Not only do they get to learn, but it’s in the context of making something for these magical creatures.”
This is the first year of the Hobbit & Faerie Hunters camp, and daily activities include building group and individual faerie houses, learning an owl call, constructing shoebox faerie houses and hunting for a rattle while blindfolded.
“The flow of the day follows a natural progression of the different phases of a cycle,” Amara said. “There’s a ceremonial opening and ceremonial closing and in between we inspire them, activate them, go into focus time and integrate what we’ve learned.”
On Monday, the campers searched along the creek for natural materials such as sticks, bark, stones and pine needles to construct their group faerie house and a small garden.
Leo Ridden, 8, of Bend, said he participated in the Wildheart winter break camp last year and was excited to do it again this summer.
“I like it because we’re always using nature and we’re always going down to the river,” he said. “It’s really fun because you get to learn things — ooh, is that a wild blueberry bush?”
“This is what our garden needs!” said Owen Taylor, 6. “But maybe we need to ask first.”
Rainbow shows the kids how to ask nature whether it’s OK to take the berries and then give something back to nature in exchange for the gift.
“Mice love berries,” he said. “So if we put ’em all around our faerie house, they may come to visit and faeries will want to see what they’re doing. We’ll have to look for signs tomorrow.”
Ali Hemesath, 9, of Bend, has participated in Wildheart home-school classes and said she’s learned a lot about nature through the camps. She even helped identify a strawberry plant.
“It’s fun spending time with other kids and learning to be respectful to nature,” she said. “I’ve found my favorite camp.”
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