Greetings! What a marvelous spring we've had in the forest together! I hope this finds you well as we approach the end of the school year.
Summer Forest Camp
If you've been thinking about occasional summer care to get your kids outside playing with peers (while you get some time apart) then we have great news for you! We have now decided to do summer forest camp on certain Tuesdays and Thursdays all summer! We've had many requests for a summer program, and just recently our summer schedules opened up so that we can now make this possible.
The forest is lovely in the summer--so shady and cool by the stream. Join us and/or spread the word to friends that might be interested. The dates are: June 12, 14 (just added!), 26, 28, July 3, 5, 10, 12, August 2, 16, 21, 23. Sign-up for as many or as few days as you wish. Ages 3-6ish. Details can be found on the sign-up page here. (Note: We aren't advertising our summer session broadly--we'd prefer to keep it more word-of-mouth for this short program)
Kids & Nature Festival
This Sunday (June 3rd) is the Kids & Nature Festival at IX Park! We will have a table with example outdoor kids' gear--come say hi!
We will also be giving a workshop called, "There's no such thing as bad weather (just bad clothing)" around 10:45 in the "workshop tent" on how to dress kids for outdoor play year-round, including the way we prevent tick bites.
Come visit us and all the other nature-loving programs in our area. There will be activities, crafts, music, food, henna art, face painting, workshops, petting zoo, kids parade, and more!
2018-19 Enrollment Update
Thank you to all the families that submitted applications this winter and spring! All applicants should have already received an email from me. Please let me know if you didn't get it.
I am absolutely thrilled and humbled by the amount of interest this type of program has received from Charlottesville families. I was not able to open enrollment to the public this year, as almost all of the spots for next year have been taken by past and current students of Village Playschool and its Waldkindergärten Forest Camp sister program. If you'd like to be on the waitlist should a spot open up, you are invited to fill out an application.
Now that the program is almost off and running, I will be able to follow a typical enrollment timeline in subsequent years. I will have 2018/19 forest school families commit to the next school year by January 2019, and then I will invite this year's waitlisted families to submit applications before opening enrollment to the general public. I hope to include more days and locations in future years to meet the demand.
I find it's a good idea to put a vision out into the universe because you'll never know what it can lead to. Therefore, I'll share some of the hopes and goals I have for Blue Ridge Forest School in the coming years.
- Grow the program to include more locations, days, and teachers to meet the demand. Perhaps Crozet area is next on the list.
- Build scholarship and financial aid programs so that every young child can have access to open-ended play in nature with peers.
- Secure private land near town where we can put down some roots and have a fire like in traditional European forest schools.
- Create a substitute teacher list (let me know if you or someone you know is interested).
- Travel for forest school trainings and workshops around the country and internationally.
- Use my background in school psychology and public school education to bring the forest school format to public K programs near and far.
- Become more involved in the numerous forest and nature school organizations across the country, and help lead the movement in Virginia.
What we've been up to this spring...
I have been taking an incredibly inspiring 16-week entrepreneurial course this spring through the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) here in Charlottesville as I prepare to open Blue Ridge Forest School. I have learned invaluable information about how to create and run a business that I will be using moving forward. I have also connected with so many inspiring local business owners and I'm honored to soon join the ranks of CIC nature-loving alumni like our friends at Little Planets, Wildrock, Go Into Nature, High Tor Gear Exchange, Rivanna River Company, Greenstone Adventures, and on and on. CIC is currently accepting applications for their next session so apply soon if you're interested (or spread the word). I couldn't recommend the program more highly!
I was also selected to present Blue Ridge Forest School this year at the Tom Tom Founders Festival Pitch Night. The videos are below--check them out if you like! (I was a nervous nellie but I am so grateful for the opportunity to spread the word about the importance of child-led play in nature!)
Jessica Kiley, Ed.S.
Blue Ridge Forest School