Camp Badger: Day 4
Our fourth day began with the campers discovering a massive wolf spider that had crawled up from the drain in the farmhouse bathtub. Instead of being scared, they couldn’t WAIT to drag each other into the bathroom as they arrived one by one. When things like these happen at Camp Badger (much like the mouse funeral the day before), we encourage the kids to get curious and we throw the schedule out the window. Each camper grabbed their magnifying glass and took a closer look before one of our brave volunteers released the intruder back into the woodpile. Although all the campers agreed that they wouldn’t want the spider sleeping in their beds, they were happy to learn all of the cool things that spiders do for the environment!
After that excitement, we made our way to the forest to learn some fun animal themed breathing techniques to help us stay nice and calm around the cows. We would see the campers employing these bunny and bumblebee breaths throughout the day, just for fun! These are awesome tools for kids to have if they’re ever feeling overwhelmed or need a quiet moment to themselves.
Lucy (our resident cow whisperer) taught the kids all about cows and how she uses positive reinforcement to train them. The cows have come such a long way and Lucy has worked so hard to build mutual trust and respect with our cow family. The kids (and the cows) were having so much fun grooming their new bovine buddies, but they wanted to make sure they would have a chance to pick up their poop too. We had done silent poop picking races the day before, and they were ready for a rematch!
The kids have been learning how to read the animals’ body language, and how to check in with themselves to see when they do interact with the animals that they are making sure the animals have given them consent with their own body language. Lucy did some drama activities with the kids in the forest to help them recap what they had learned in a fun and exciting way. They ended up making up funny skits about cow behaviour and performing them for each other later on in the day! Just like the kids have a choice to say stop if they don’t like something, we encourage them to use this same respect with the animals. When the kids are engaging in animal care, they are interacting with the animals on a different level and not expecting anything in return. The kids use this same philosophy with each other, and have grown such a strong group bond as a result.
Speaking of that bond… the kids love all of the animals at the farm, but each share a very special connection with an individual animal they call them their ‘bond animal.’ Funnily enough, each of these individual animals seems to share similar personality traits with their ‘person.’ We really do believe great minds think alike in this situation. One of our campers said that Ray Charles, whom she shares a special bond with, has a “head that feels just like my Grandma’s hands!’
In the afternoon we decided to surprise the campers with a TV! Well, at least a box that had once held a TV. We filled the box with instruments, arts supplies, ropes for making a rope swing, costumes, and an old camcorder. We wanted the kids to use their imaginations and be free to express themselves however they wanted, without being on a strict schedule. They wanted to make Ray Charles a super hero, so they dressed him up after using their animal body language skills to make sure he was comfortable with that. He fell asleep with his cape on – he is so comfortable and trusting with the kids and vice versa. Then they put on a ukulele concert for Ray and Louise in his little wheelchair. It was one of the most beautiful moments, on one of the most wonderful days, filled with fun, laughter and creativity. What an honour it is to watch these kids soar!