A cliche– there is a first for everything. I had a moment the other day when I started to think about the many firsts I have experienced in my life. Many I can remember with clarity and certainty; defining moments. But there are many that have just faded into a normal state of being or doing. Take something as trivial as texting. I do not, in fact, remember sending my first text. Was I excited? Was someone leaning over my shoulder navigating me through the steps? Who did I sent it to? Perhaps it was just too uneventful to store in my brain for any length of time but when these ‘firsts’ arise, how do we know what will or should be considered to be in the “momentous” category? How we can ensure that we imprint those moments into our memory that are later going to be important? What propels us to focus on a thought, a feeling, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch? As I grow older, I want to pay more attention to firsts. I do not want to lose them.
It is for this reason I am writing about our first Terra Nova Nature School Open House and Registration evenings. Quite honestly, I doubt Kate and I will ever forget these two events as they left us with a special sentiment. The weeks leading up to the open house were busy as we handed out flyers, put up posters, worked with Thompson staff on marketing strategies and told everyone we knew about our dream. It felt so good to share it with others– we had been working behind the scenes on this dream for a while but the act of telling others created a sense of relief as well as pure and utter excitement.
We had a vision of the open house– and, just like when we are working with children, we wanted to be true to the vision, work hard to create it and yet know that it would take on its own life. We had an awesome team of people working along side us and we are indebted to their hard work and professional input. Although we hoped people would come out to meet the Nature School team, we really did not know what to expect and we were feeling both excited and nervous. We were just finishing up an interview with the Richmond Review (http://www.richmondreview.com/news/249845641.html#.UyEOsuTeVRM.facebook) when we realized it was time for the open house to start.
The doors opened and suddenly this amazing energy filled the room. Smiling faces of both adults and children quickly entered our cozy space, filling the room with animated voices and laughter. Families flocked to Ian Lai’s worm table as he captivated them with these wonderful creatures and his inviting explorations; they eagerly found Kate to ask her questions about the program; they approached me as well, wanting to know about the idea of forest schools. Children explored the plentiful activities like the Sand, Mirror and Gem table, the Still Life with Fresh Vegetables, and the Loose Parts Building Area. Families enjoyed our slideshow, drank herbal tea from Terra Nova Farm, indulged in homemade cookies and enjoyed the reading materials provided. Nerves vanished to be replaced by pure joy! Families, both new and old, were curious and interested in our vision! Every once in a while I would stop ever so briefly to glance over at Kate and Ian- a sense of pride would fill me as I realized that I am so fortunate to work with these two amazing educators. I looked over to my new Thompson family and felt grateful for their support and belief in this project. I do not want to forget these moments.
Fast forward to our registration night. Once again, we hoped to have a good turn out and there was a buzz a few days before about people’s interest in the program. And yet, Kate and I only wanted to focus on working hard, connecting with people one to one and keeping ourselves grounded. Would people actually decide to register for this program or was it too ‘out there’? Then we heard the first person had lined up, then another and so on. A surge of emotions subsequently prevailed- excitement, reverence, humbleness, gratefulness and still a resounding sense of disbelief.
Thank you to each and every family that waited patiently to get a spot. Thank you for believing in the importance of connecting children to nature, wanting to allow children the freedom to explore in a fluid and dynamic environment and putting your trust in us to share in your child’s educational journey. Together we have so much to look forward to– a building restoration, the construction of the play experience, garden beds seeded and then our days on the land.
Firsts to remember… new beginnings to create.