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Strong, Powerful and Brave

Spend enough time with children outdoors and you will witness multiple acts of strength, power and bravery. Nature presents us with new challenges and opportunities for growth everyday. Through nature we find out things about ourselves that we never knew and with this new knowledge we grow more aware and able to shape the world around us (we become more powerful).

When a child realises they can cut through a branch, climb up - and down - a tree, scale a sand dune, balance on a log over water, ride a rapid, even dig a hole - they begin to see themselves as capable, as strong - as masters of their destiny! This self image/inter-personal knowledge opens up so many new possibilities to engage with and learn from nature! I am so happy to be able to witness and support such profound moments in children's lives!

This story of strength, power and bravery is about a boy 'J' aged 4 - a keen explorer who is very eager to master all our bush tools! He arrives to our nature session one morning and eagerly tells all the facilitators: "I am strong, because I ate all of my dinner". He then shows his arms in a strong man pose! This is obviously a result of an adult comment ...however it is still a positive line of thought so we are going to run with it... As we go about our morning this self image of strength pops up again - 'J' volunteers to help with tools - such as the shovel because 'he is strong'... Other children see him say "I am strong" and then proceed to dig a hole and they too want to be 'strong' and dig a hole ('J' is scaffolding his peers).. soon we have lots of 'strong' children testing out their strength and newly formed self image with a shovel!

What happens next is where we see the children's power come into play... an exploration into the bush - instigated by a brave explorer "D" leads us to a discovery - a big mound - of what we are not sure- mud, clay, moss, sticks...what is it?" - we prod and poke it, posing questions as we examine the mound- after all.. wonder is the first sign of wisdom 😉..right?  Soon we discover it is clay!!! Woohoo! Jackpot! I am thinking - sensory, messy play here we come!!

But we have a problem, actually AN OPPORTUNITY.... how do we remove just enough for us to extend on our discovery and confirm our query? 'J' knows! "I can dig us up some with the shovel... because... I am STRONG!" WOW! Yes he can! We call down the line... "pass us the shovel" It is passed along from child to child to 'J' who uses his new technique and strength to unearth a small basket load of clay! Which was actually heavy and needed a strong person to carry it..a child tries and then decides to pass it to...'J' - who of course was happy to help!

The children's efforts to unearth the clay were rewarded with a sensory exploration back at base camp, we added water to our find and shaped our clay into balls, mixed it and used it to paint our arms! The clay mound will surely be a new destination for us and each mission to this spot will be different based on the children who lead it. Who will be the brave child who suggests going into the wild bush around the site? Who will be the strong child who helps their friends and uses both their physical abilities and self knowledge to achieve a shared goal? From our mission we will surely all be a head taller than the trees we walked under when we started....