It was a cold March evening, but firepits were flickering, and hearts were warm. The Annual General Meeting for NatureSummit was starting to coalesce. Hot dogs and hot chocolate made an appearance, and bellies glowed. Canadian geese honked their cacophony on the St. Vital Park duck pond, appearing frozen to the pond’s surface.
NatureSummit is an organization of early childhood educators who have an interest in helping children experience wonder outdoors. They are always looking for ways to get the children in their care engaged in outdoor activities. From walks in the woods to encouraging forts, they are blazing a new path of carefully considered care for their children.
The group culminates in a summit once every two years at Camp Manitou. For a Friday, Saturday and Sunday there are outdoor workshops, a handful of indoor workshops, keynotes, nature hikes, archery and more. It’s a time for educators to relax, have some fun and learn.
When I walked in, Leah greeted me with big bear hug. I had talked with her at the summit in September, and it was great to reconnect. Hearing her and others talk about caring for children in a way that reconnects them to the planet is refreshing and reinvigorating. That and being welcomed to a roomful of people I am still getting to know with a hug is a wonderful ice-breaker.
In September I had presented a workshop called ‘Ecovillages: An Introduction for Educators’. It was received very well, with comments like ‘insightful’ and ‘thought-provoking’ coming from my audience. It helped me to feel that my work with ecovillages has relevance and interest.
There in the shelter on the cold March evening I had the chance to talk to more of the NatureSummit organizing team. I had brought copies of my latest project, the print edition of ‘The Co-Creator’ and had a opportunity to share. With the third issue’s theme of children, NatureSummit were people I wanted to connect with. I even had a chat with my son’s home daycare provider and her husband.
The group had some things to vote on, including confirmation of people taking on roles that were being vacated. There were some tears shed, and even a newcomer like me can see this an initiative that people have poured their hearts and souls into.
It’s easy to see the people drawn to and involved with NatureSummit are heartfelt people with a clear vision of what they are doing. They are informed educators and daycare workers, working to benefit not just each other, but the children they serve.
At the end, I had a chance to talk to a friend who I had not seen in quite a while. When I shared with Jay my current project, he reached into his pocket and made a donation to my periodical. I was floored with his kindness and will be listing him as a supporter.
The geese didn’t let us forget they were there, but kept us with song right up until the end. The AGM concluded quickly, the fires carefully put out with smoking snow. My heart full, I made my way home to share the good vibes.