Farewell to Summer Camp

Published August 21st, 2014

The last day of Screech Owls is always bittersweet. In the days that follow it’s end, I am flooded with stories, images and the sweetest, smallest, most precious moments that took place in those enchanted woods.

As Program Coordinator, I have the special privilege of watching it all unfold. I’m not instructing and so I get to step back and absorb all that is born. The friendships, the self discovery and the deep connection with the natural world grows like the meadow’s bergamot; wildly abundant!

Our hope is that in this short time together these children have connected with the stillest and truest parts of themselves, supplying them with resiliency and resources for the rest of their lives.

One of my intentions this session was to hold an activity for all the campers together. I wanted this activity to be sacred and connecting. After lots of brainstorming we decided on having a sage smudging ceremony.

We gathered in our last closing circle and after we shared stories and sang songs, I talked to the children about the gift we had all been given this summer; to follow our joy, in the forest, with friends and family.

Together we sang an old Cherokee song as each child was called up to be smudged by the sage. We took our time blessing each child, slowly fanning this ancient plant’s medicine toward them, quietly honoring them with love and seeing. They all sang along, completely mesmerized by the moment. Each child stepped up, some with eyes closed, others with palms open, and received the magic. During this time not one child disrupted the space.

DSC_9724Many people would look at a group of 30+ four to seven year olds and think they were incapable of sitting in stillness and silence, unless a TV was in front of them.

But at Wild Earth, we are able to stretch, counselors and campers alike, to our highest potential. Our hope is that in this short time together these children have connected with the stillest and truest parts of themselves, supplying them with resiliency and resources for the rest of their lives.

As I called each child up to be smudged I was inundated with the potential each of these kids have within them. And with that comes a great sense of hope and peace for tomorrow.

These experiences could not be possible without thoughtful and caring parents like you. Thank you for joining and enriching our community this summer! We hope to see lots more of you and your children throughout the year!


Esperanza GonzalezEsperanza GonzalezEsperanza Gonzalez, Program Manager

Esperanza is, and has always been, a teacher at heart. From the early age of 8 she would hold play groups in her church and tend to the young children who would often disrupt the sermons. This passion to teach carried on through the years, bringing her to SUNY New Paltz where she received her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and History. While living in New Paltz, she merged her love for the outdoors, her passion for teaching and her organizational and entrepreneurial skills into many different educational programs. She has taught in various local schools, led theater groups, kids yoga, art programs and of course worked with Wild Earth in a number of programs. Her commitment to community connection has guided her community service work in jails, juvenile centers, Americorps, inner-city art programs, soup kitchens and many more volunteer based initiatives. She sees every child's potential and knows there is no better way to hold their blossoming than through the arts and the exploration of the natural world. More about Esperanza's work.

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