Please join us September 13th, and every Thursday following, at 10:00 am, rain or shine for our new program: Outdoor Families Nature Club. Part play group, part outdoor education, part family hike, Outdoor Families is a drop-in group led by a Nature Nuts outdoor instructor and naturalist whose goal is to connect families to nature, their community, and to each other.
“Nature encourages children to engage in free play shaped by their own curiosity, and the play is highly physical and tactile, collaborative, and imaginative. In addition, when children learn to embrace the changes and challenges of the natural world, they develop resilience, self-regulation, and the ability to assess and manage risks.” (Sobel, D., 2016. The Handbook for Outdoor Learning. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.)
More and more research is showing that consistent outdoor play is crucial for development; physically, social and emotionally, psychologically, and cognitively. We at Peacock Family Services strive to get children outdoors as much as possible. Our preschool classes have at least two hours of outdoor time each day as well as a nature walk each week guided by one of our Nature Nuts instructors, who also lead our popular summer camps and after school program.
With Outdoor Families, we are looking to fill a gap on the island– to provide a drop-in group for young children and their families who are not yet in school with enriching outdoor play experiences that also highlight a connection to nature and our community.
After a brief welcome circle, the group will start exploring by wandering in the woods, peering into tide pools, and following the children’s lead through play. The naturalist will sprinkle in outdoor knowledge for both adults and children, led by everyone’s curiosities. After an hour, we will break for snack time and a story before resuming play and enjoying a trail game back to the parking area. Feel free to stay as little or as long as you like! Our fall sessions will meet at Fort Ward, in the upper lot off of Fort Ward Hill Road and Belfair Avenue. Please bring your own snacks, a change of clothes for your kiddos, and waterproof boots and jacket in fall and winter. We encourage messy play and puddle jumping so a spare set of clothes will make the car ride home a bit more pleasant! If you have any questions about what type of gear or clothing will help make your family more comfortable in all weather, get in touch with Val, the Nature Nuts Program Director .
Outdoor families is for the entire family. Parents or caregivers attend with their children and we welcome kids of all ages — from babes in arms on up. The instructor will gauge the level of the group and provide age-appropriate learning that will provide nature connections for all. This is not a drop-off program, but rather an opportunity for parents and caregivers to stay with and share the experience with their child. Cost is $5 for a caregiver and single child or $10 for families with multiple children. Please bring cash or stop in to Peacock Family Services to purchase a 5 or 10 visit Outdoor Families punch card. Scholarships are also available for this program.
“From play comes real knowledge about the environment and a direct connection with nature, a sense of belonging, of wonder, and of respect for life. Cherished memories form, along with an enthusiasm to return and experience more, and through this a lasting sense of stewardship for our amazing, unique natural world is born.”
-Peter Houghton & Jane Worroll in Play the Forest School Way
We begin September 13th! We will pilot this program as a midweek meet-up and potentially extend it to also meet one Saturday each month so working families may attend. We would love for you to come join the club and give feedback as the program develops!
If you have any questions about Outdoor Families Nature Club, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Val Loughney Stapleton, Nature Nuts Program Director: (206) 780-1505 or email@example.com