Best Summer Camp | Best of the Nest | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Best Summer Camp 

A Q&A with Wildheart Nature School

Wildheart offers unique, nature-oriented educational programs for kids of all ages. In addition to spring and winter camps, classes are available throughout the school year for after-school or home school students. A mixed, preschool- Kindergarten class is Wildheart’s newest addition. Co-founders Amara and Rainbow Dreamer tell us more.

click to enlarge MAILE MASON
  • Maile Mason
How would you describe a typical day for a child attending summer camp at Wildheart?

AD: We start each week by choosing a theme, based on what the kids say they’re excited about. It might be entering an imaginary realm or focusing on primitive skills. Then we head out on a mapping hike, or a site survey, maybe doing some animal tracking or plant identification, depending on what fits into the week’s theme.

RD: For our Juniper Jedis, there might be more camouflage. The Dragon Riders learn about map making, which covers plant identification and orientation. If we named a class “Mapping and Navigation,” that might not sound very exciting to the kids, but “Dragon Riders” says the same thing just in different words.

How does this work for the younger, pre-K and Kindergarten kids?

AD: They have their own program, four days a week from 9:30-1:30, following the school calendar. We weave in the same skills and themes from the other groups, but this one also incorporates a Waldorf style. During the global lockdown, a Waldorf teacher approached us about starting a Mixed-K curriculum, so we worked with her to develop it. It’s not a Waldorf program per se, but it is inspired by a Waldorf-trained instructor.

Can you give us an example?

AD: It’s similar to the older age programs: same locations, with a bigger focus on gardening and farm animals. We have a tepee and a greenhouse at one location, and we’ll have a geodesic dome in another. We do want to be out in the elements as much as possible, but for the little ones we work up to them being outside for the full four hours. What about the older, teen-age kids?

AD: This is our first year with a 12-16 program. It’s an opportunity for us to train advanced students to become teachers or counselors.

It sounds like you’re busy year-round. Are you currently taking registration for summer camp?

AD: We’re pretty much full for the summer, but we do have openings in the Mixed-K program. RD: Our schedule does go year-round. We have fall and spring terms for home school or after-school programs, and the spring break and summer camps coincide with the school district calendar.

Wildheart Nature School
wildheartnatureschool.com
541-625-0273
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