WOW!! We have had a fun filled 3 days all together. For this months co-op we decided to have a camp where we would focus on Nature. One of the families offered to have it on their property where they have several different biomes, which attract over 200 different birds, in the course of a year.
Thursday started off with our regular co-op activities where families with young children who werent staying for the camp joined in for the morning activities. We went for a walk along the billabong edge looking for natures treasures. The kids found different barks, nuts, leaves, scat, flowers all sorts. They collected in their hats, in containers, in bags and in their mothers hands! Later in the day they made a nature window from these treasures.
After lunch camp was set up and their lawn soon became tent city! For our family it was a great opportunity to test a lot of our new camping equipment without the pressure of needing it! Though there were campfire activities planned the cooking and showering were all being done in a civilized manner inside Carolines house!
The afternoon consisted of painting tins to make a camp totem pole to mark the entry of camp. Then the kid went off for a swim and I say kids because it was soooo cold there was no way you would find an adult even attempting a swim. We told them it was their bath which concerned Daniel so much that he braved it, when he wasnt going to, and washed his arms (that was the extent of his bath!!). Not that it matters much when camping.
We had bought prepared meals, which were heated in Caroline oven for dinner for the first night. We ate our casseroles around a huge campfire which was being built up and then burnt down to coals ready for Damper cooking after dinner. Once the littlies were put into bed, the rest of the kids assailed Carolines kitchen and made Damper they had the basic recipe and were invited to add any mystery ingredient they would like to make their own unique dampers. There was chocolate, dried fruit, chocolate, orange fizz, chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate!! Once they were all mixed, wrapped with alfoil we watched and waited around the campfire till they were ready to eat. A lot ended up with the extra mystery ingredient that was a lot like sand! All a part of camping. After enjoying each others concoctions the kids went to bed while the mums chatted for a while around the campfire.
Fridays first activity was a discussion on the classification of living things, especially the animal kingdom, particularly the birds. Then they all went off for a bush walk to see the gorge and dam on the property. The big excitement was that they saw a White Sea Eagle. While away they sat down and sketched in their nature journals.
After morning tea it was time for a science lesson on the parts of a flower and Caroline walked them through making a 3d paper flower, with all the parts including pollen (made from coloured salt). It was a great activity. Of course, the flowers and all their parts are necessary for the bird life.
After lunch it was sport and ball skills. Once everyone was completely exhausted Alan took the kids and most the mums to see their Red Claw farm which included seeing some goats, who eat down the grass around the ponds. The kids just loved this. Though we all decided it was definitely too cold to make the kids take a dip so happy campers were dirty campers!
Dinner was pizza so family by family we piled into Carolines kitchen once more and made pizzas on pita bread. My kids were thrilled to be making a whole large round pizza each! While the adults got themselves sorted the kids played spotlight which apparently was the highlight of the camp for some! After dinner was the big Campfire Concert drum roll ..!
Joshua had been practicing reading a story he had written some time ago. I had encouraged him to read and practice so that he could be very familiar with the story and do more than just read but really perform the story. Then he left his paper at home. He felt though that he knew it well enough to recite and he spoke very very well.
Nomi and Jess decided to sing, Home among the Gum Trees and to encourage everyone to sing along in the chorus. Nomi didnt have the words down pat so she led the chorus singing while Jess sang the verses solo.
Daniel wanted to recite something about Jesus. We found a Mother Hubbard Nursery Rhymes that had been changed to Christian verse. I said a line for him, and he repeated it. Once more kids got up and did things and some kids were going back for seconds he got more courage and wanted to tell a joke. No one could understand him but his confidence was terrific to see. Josh quietly got up and stood beside him in case he needed help.
Saturday morning every one was TIRED! We opted to start the morning ½ hour later, which was surely appreciated by all. Our family were the first to wake up so every morning we got the campfire going again and huddled around that trying to pretend we were warm!
After breakfast Mr T. one of the dads who came out after work on Friday got the kids into some organised games games of tag and tunnel ball etc. The kids had a ball. We decided to delay the start of the activities by yet another ½ hour. Cups of tea around the campfire while the kids were occupied for us Mums! Then we all piled into the cars and went on a tour around the farm not to see the farm operation but to see the varied country and land formations. First we went down to the river (where the big boys were taken off by themselves to have a go at a ridgy didge, David and Goliath, sling.) The rest of the kids were observing birds and drawing in their nature journals and just enjoying the beach like sand beside the river.
We then went to a paddock where we could see all the land formations of rocks, river line, and mountains around us. The kids were to map the area keeping in mind the directions of north, south, east and west plus the knowledge of where they had just come from, and various landmarks Caroline had mentioned throughout the day. It was an interesting activity and one that Caroline and I drew a lot of potential lessons from as we saw the things the kids struggled with in this activity.
Then we went to a water hole which is seen as the heart of the property due to the large amount of bird life that the water attracts to the property. The kids had been given a bird list with all the previously recorded sighted birds and they were to check off as they saw a particular bird. Well of course there were many more birds there than we had ever considered seeing in one place and we knew hardly any of the names. It was good to see Josh and Jess in particular stick real close to Caroline and to catch some of her infectious enthusiasm for each and every bird she saw. Nomi and Daniel were keen too but found it a bit harder to keep up. Daniel wants to go back and look for more birds another day.
Once we got back to camp Caroline had one final craft activity for them. They all went and picked at least one new, fresh green leaf from her garden and with a piece of calico already cut to size they placed the leaf under the calico and banged it and banged it with a hammer. As they banged the green chlorophyll from the leaves came out and imprinted on the calico. Very cool. Cant say all the noise from the hammers was very cool but the kids had a ball.
After lunch people all packed up camp and went on their way in dribs and drabs through the afternoon.
We decided to stay on an extra day and have a family visit with the Garstone family. Pete arrived Saturday afternoon along with dog Domino. Pete and Alan caught up, Caroline and I caught up with each other and the kids all continued to have a great time. We had Red Claw around the campfire for dinner and Pete cooked bacon and eggs on the campfire for breakfast (not that the kids joined us as I think they enjoyed hot chocolate in the comfort of the house!)
After we cleaned up Carolines kitchen a bit the adults went off to the gorge and the men climbed up the dam wall. It is amazing Kimberley country and water just makes it all the more beautiful.
After a final cuppa together we down camp and head home with plenty of fantastic fun-time memories, plenty of inspiration for bird watching and nature in general. Our family has certainly voted that a homeschool camp was a great idea and they look forward to next years!