The end of Pine’s Fall programming had me reflecting on why nature connection programs are so important. At the closing of the program, parents, kids, and staff were full of gratitude for each other and for the experiences they shared. The kids expressed, both in their words and in their role playing, how much they had learned and discovered. I listened as parents (poignantly, and with emotion) explained how their children had grown during the session. Staff expressed how honoured they were to be able to work with strong, creative, and fun children. It was an emphatic reminder that the Pine Project does important, necessary work in the lives of children.
But WHY is this work so essential? I look at my daughter, the strongest 10 year old I know. She has an awareness and vitality that come from 5 years of being outside in all seasons with the Pine Project that I don’t see in other kids her age. She is resilient and confident. My son is a curious 6 year old, ready to explore every unturned rock and grove of trees. He is unafraid of the unknown of the forest, yet aware of hazards. They both are deeply connected and vibrantly alive. They have a sense of relaxation in the woods, an eagerness to try new things and experience life full on. Their sense of ease and connection in nature allows them a freedom that is not often seen in children. I see them carry these traits into other situations and environments. Pine’s (and nature’s) work is transferable.
The Pine Project takes kids off-trail. It teaches kids to get down on their knees and see other living things “where they are at”, from a new perspective. Kids build relationships with the plants and animals, with the elements and the environment. They learn how to adapt and how to be in right relationship with the sun, snow, rain, and with each other. They learn about themselves in the face of the elements.
The Pine Project creates kids who are deeply connected. The experiences they have continue to affect and shape them as they grow, and our culture needs fearless, resilient, connected, compassionate and alive people. Their work cures many of the problems children face today, before they begin.
It’s critical for the future, and it needs to be supported to grow.
Jennifer Eisberg, Pine parent and previous board member