After the woes of last week, I thought it might be appropriate to redress the balance, and get back on an even (and optimistic) keel.

We took a group of students out to a provincial park, with the stated curriculum goals being connected to learning more about Alberta’s trees and forests. No problem, and straightforward enough! Identify a tree, record a leaf shape, and recognize an animal or two. But there’s the curriculum, and then there’s the hidden curriculum. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s the hidden curriculum that I find more interesting, and where a demonstration of deeper learning and real connection often occurs.

DSCN6792We hugged trees – we really did, and who cares if anyone’s watching? – and smelt and touched the bark, and the leaves, and the needles. We got a bit sticky with pine resin. We took stock of all the signs and traces of interdependence between plants, insects, birds and mammals for one single tree. We decided one single tree is a thing of beauty and wonder. Well, that begged the question, if one tree is a natural miracle, how about two trees? A stand of trees? An entire forest? All the trees on the planet? Heady thoughts, and the students were smiling about it.

DSCN6814The children loved being in the woods. They were excited to be there, (and to be out of a regular classroom) and were able to enthuse and enjoy without climbing where they shouldn’t, without breaking branches, without disturbing habitat, or dropping any trash. For a large group of rising thirteen year olds, they were also pretty quiet! Quiet enough to see and not startle a mule deer feeding only a few metres away…I don’t have a picture, but it was beautiful –  both the deer, and student reaction!

IMG_20160611_182513My day was made when two boys, unbidden, took it upon themselves to pick up all the pieces of a broken styrofoam cup they found strewn in the undergrowth. They told me they were concerned for the health and habitat of a squirrel they’d observed nearby. Now, we should all pick up litter, ours or not, that’s kind of a given, but after the appalling behaviour we witnessed last week, these boys raised my spirits. They are two young gentlemen who sometimes find themselves challenged with making good decisions, but they didn’t hesitate to do the right thing when they saw an environment in need. Real character and global citizenship at the micro level. Thank you, boys!

DSCN6769(It makes me wonder, what excuse did our fellow campers from last week have to be so callous towards the environment? Presumably they were educated? To be clear, they weren’t just out of high school or college, not that that excuses anything. They were “grown ups” in their late twenties and early thirties. Hmm…but let’s not go there again, PlaidCamper, it’s not good for your health!)

DSCF2559Keeping it brief this week, and as I said at the top, the real reason for writing this little piece is to restore the balance and get back to being optimistic. I think we have reasons to be cheerful when we see younger generations show they care about the planet. Here’s hoping they don’t lose that compassion and consideration as they “grow up”…

Thanks for reading, feel free to share a story or leave a comment, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

17 thoughts on “Balance”

  1. I often have wondered that myself, why the general flippancy and lack of sensitivity of people who venture out to the woods. I had my grandson over for a fun-filled weekend and of course I had to take him up to see my favorite places. One was up in the high country and being able to see a mountain with remaining snow, to hike back to several alpine lakes. It was an amazing time with him. We listened, of course to really listen, you have to be still, to be quiet, to really look. He was so right on with what I was trying to share with him….show him. I am hoping that someday he will remember these treks out to the woods, all the hiking that we do when he stays with me. With the general public, I don’t think that they get it because the woods and nature is a “place” and not an experience, a living and moving place where animals reside. It is just a place, void of living and breathing and growing organisims. It is part of what is occurring in our modern world, a disconnect with the great outdoors. So sad but I know that there are many like you or me that are willing to take time out to introduce the young to reconnect with this living and breathing experience of nature. My hat is off to you, I will remember next time to hug some trees with my grandson. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this wonderful comment! Pretty sure your grandson is appreciative now, and will be into the future, for the time you spend together up in the high country.
      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to read that your young students restored your optimism and raised your spirits after your previous weekend with the millennial campers (good to hear they weren’t from our generation). Really enjoyed the last three photos and have a great weekend!


    1. Sometimes, I have to work a little harder at remaining optimistic! Luckily, the students I teach almost always raise a smile – they aren’t always trying to be funny, but they do lift spirits anyway…
      Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this one! My husband currently works as a special education teacher, hoping to find a job as a social studies teacher in a high school, but I wonder if it would be possible for them to have a little class trip..


    1. Young people often, and unfairly, get a bad rap. Get them outside and they get involved. As your husband knows, field trips are a lot of extra work beforehand, but they are such fun, and experiential learning is the best. And of course, volunteers are usually welcome…(just saying!)
      Have a wonderful weekend!


  4. I didn’t get to your previous post till now and feel bad that you had to experience the so-called camping behavior of idiots out of touch with the nature that’s around them, but I know exactly what you mean because I’ve been there too and continue to see the crassness all around (albeit less so today because I try to do my “camping” in more remote areas, if at all possible). The good news, of course, and the balance that you sought, is found in the youth who are still open to the beauty and the possibilities offered by good teachers such as yourself, who make the effort of doing field trips such as this so very worthwhile. Congrats for pulling it off, and for sharing the results with us, as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Walt! I hope all is well with you and the rivertops.
      I’m happy enough to camp if fellow campers show courtesy, but it’s becoming a bit of a lottery. It seems you, and other commentators hereabouts, opt for more remote spots. I suspect we’ll aim to do this in the long run. Might take a little more planning, but the rewards will be there…
      As for the young ‘uns, they keep me sane and smiling, and honestly believing all is not lost! (Gives aging educators something to do…)
      Thanks, all the best to you, and have a great week.


  5. I loved this; especially, the part about the two little boys picking up the styrofoam. After my own weekend experience, that is refreshing. Adults….well, we could learn something from children every now and then. Then the mule deer…I have my own mule deer experience from this weekend so I can only imagine how beautiful it was to see with children. Hope you are having a great weekend.


  6. Great post, pc. Tender times call for tender posts, and yours was much appreciated. I liked the image of you and the young teenagers hugging trees, picking up trash, sharing time together in the woods. We do what we can, we humans, and some are more capable than others; but most of us have warm hearts and good intentions….


  7. Great post. Those boys helping out the environment reminds me of my teenage daughter – that’s the sort of thing she does too, which warms my heart. As for hugging trees, I’ve done that. Nothing beats being close to nature. 🙂


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