Camp Packing List, v. 2017

Camp Packing List, v. 2017

What to Bring. What not to Bring.Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 2.57.47 PM
Proper packing is important to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Don’t bring anything you’re afraid to get dirty. One of our goals this season is to have zero items left behind, so consider labeling your goods.
To bring (mandatory):
___ footwear: two pairs (closed toe) that can get wet/dirty. no flip flops.
___ water bottle
___ cap or hat
___ sunscreen
___ insect repellant (no aerosol)
___ flashlight or headlamp
___ bedding: sleeping bag or twin sheets and pillow
___ 4 pair underwear
___ 4 pair socks (at least 2 are long)
___ 4 short-sleeve shirts
___ 2 long sleeve shirts (light weight)
___ 2-3 shorts
___ 1 long pants (light weight or blue jeans)
___ 1 rain jacket or poncho (with hood)
___ 1 bathing suit (no swimming, but we have fun with hoses/sprinkler)
___ toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, if necessary)
___ bath towel and wash cloth
___ laundry bag(s) for dirty clothes

May bring (optional):
rain boots
book
journal and/or sketch pad
disposable camera
sweatshirt or fleece

Things to leave at home (not allowed):
If a camper brings any of the following items, they will be held by camp staff until camp end.
*any electronic item, including cell phones
*food or candy
*make up or perfumed cosmetic products
*fireworks, matches, candles or lighters
*pocket knives

p.s. All animals found at camp stay at camp.

Camp Schedule & Activities

Camp Schedule & Activities

Yes, we begin each week with a schedule, but it’s more of an outline or framework. There are always tweaks to the time and frequency. More important to us is that kids get their ABC’s:

A: Autonomous – We ask the campers all about what is interesting to them and then offer choices, based on these interests.
B. Belonging: We welcome kids as they are and work to build community through fun.
C. Competence: Kids learn how to do things by doing things that are interesting to them, and led by caring guides.

7:30 – Chores (by tent)
8:15 – Breakfast
9:15 – Group Game
10:00 – Free Choice
11:00 – Free Choice 2
12:00 – Lunch
12:45 – Village Time
1:45 – [supervised] Open Play
3:15 – Snack
3:45 – Free Choice 3
5:15 – Chores (by tent)
6:00 – Dinner
7:30 – All Camp Games
8:45 – Village Time, Read & Lights Out

Note: All campers are involved in food every day, either harvesting, cooking one of the meals, or taking part in a food workshop, e.g. making bread, pesto, pickles, etc. Wednesday is pizza-from-scratch day. Campers are also involved in caring for some of the farm animals each day.

Some of what we did the last two summers and some of what we plan for this summer:

Construction project, e.g. mini garden boxes with cedar wood
Survival Skills, like fire starting and foraging 101
Dino Egg Hunt (and Scavenger Hunt)
Outdoor Cooking (over a fire)
Mindfulness, Meditation & Yoga
Drum Circles
Boat Building
Jewelry Making
Cardboard and Duct Tape Games
Chopping Wood
Tie-Dye t-shirts or cooking aprons, with natural dyes
Pressing flowers & constructing frames
Nature art, e.g. charcoal sketch
Nature hike, with path and map making
Camp Drama Skit (& Thursday night Talent Show)
Wooden spoon making
Food Dioramas
Mural Painting
Homesteading with Deborah, e.g. sugar scrub, dryer balls
Carpet weaving, with natural materials
Solar oven construction and use
Camp Olympics and Capture the Flag

Our activity options are often decided through group decision making. All activities are actively supervised (and taught) by at least one staff. We insist one camper’s behavior never take away from another camper’s experience, or endanger oneself or the community. 

We understand (and celebrate) that each camper is different. Everything that happens at camp stems from: Why We Do What We Do

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Why We Do What We Do.

Why We Do What We Do.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-5-08-26-pmYes, our camp is centered around food, but the goal isn’t necessarily for kids to become farmers and chefs (although that would be great). Nature’s Farm Camp is set up intentionally as an environment for kids to flourish.

Nature’s Farm Camp exists:

Because the health benefits of swapping screen time for time in nature are overwhelming. 

So, unless there are emergencies, we are outdoors the entire week of camp – in the woods, fields and stream – and barns and tents.

Because the standard American diet causes lots of damage – often, we get in the habit of consuming calories that can barely be defined as food.

We aim to develop healthy relationships with food, so campers are involved in all the aspects of what we eat. Through harvests and meal prep with lots of different tastes and textures, kids experience delicious food. They also meet farmers who grow nutrient dense food that builds health and community.

Because the world needs a diverse populace who can work together- dreamers, explorers and inventors who follow their passions and who communicate and collaborate to solve problems. Yet, too often, school and business define success as those who are best at following directions. 

At camp, kids are given choices and make decisions daily, in a healthy environment with nonjudgemental and caring adults who prioritize safety and fun. Often, we work as teams, including for chores. As members of the community running the farm, campers gain a sense of accomplishment and become part of something bigger than themselves.

Because we live in a world of abstraction, it doesn’t matter how many dots you collect. The best way to solve problems is by connecting the dots. 

Through interactive games, we come to understand the ecosystem and how everything is connected. Campers are encouraged to ask questions and think broadly about how their decisions affect who and what’s around them.

Because everyone deserves to belong.

So we intentionally build communities that allow both staff and campers to feel safe, and ensure all members of our camp community understand that they have something valuable to contribute. We lead with the Golden Rule and respect all opinions.

Because play is not the opposite of work. No matter the age, we all need play. For happiness, but also because learning happens through play. 

It begins with the attitude of our staff. We build it into the schedule and make it a part of every day.

Our aim is to help grow great people. We start each week with high expectations – and we tell the campers as much. Camp’s designed for the kids to grow through doing. To become more resilient, competent and confident, the most effective learning happens through active problem solving. It just so happens that camp takes place in a setting that benefits kids health: days filled with movement immersed in nature. Because going to bed exhausted with a sense of satisfaction feels great.

Staff recruitment, training and program development are all done with this in mind. The staff are nonjudgemental and caring adults who prioritize safety and fun.

p.s. We’re huge believers in the power of camp to shape lives in positive ways. Even if our camp isn’t a proper fit for your family, we hope your child experiences it somewhere. Let us know if you’re looking for recommendations.

p.s. We’re also believe in the power of local food to help change the economy. To connect your family with a farm, take a peek at those serving the Chicagoland Foodshed.
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Benefits of Chores

Benefits of Chores

Deborah, Mike and Sarah, the year-round production farmers and homesteaders at Antiquity Oaks, appreciate seeing all the extra smiles around the farm in July and August. The farmers also love it because they get a partial break from the chores.

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That’s right. The campers are responsible for helping to keep the operation running. Chores happen twice daily, before breakfast and before dinner. Plus, campers in the Mighty Oaks tent close the chicken coop in the east field at sunset.

The kids work together with the counselors to accomplish what needs to get done (including the meals, with campers working with the cooking instructors). Inevitably though, routine chores are never routine, e.g. the chickens dump over their water, we can’t find the horse, a goat jumps their fence. We know it’s great when campers problem solve along the way, but it wasn’t until we read this article did we fully comprehend the importance of chores.

For 2017, we’re refining and adding programs to maximize the camp experience. One things for sure: chores will continue to be valued. Yes, Nature’s Farm Camp is about fun, but it’s far more than just fun.

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P.S. If you’re wondering about how this translates to your household and why giving your kids chores can be a win-win, check out this article.

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Summer 2016. A Review in Photos.

Summer 2016. A Review in Photos.

Who knew helping to run a working farm for a week could be so much fun 🙂
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It’s not health food, it’s fantastic food that just happens to be nutrient dense food. It makes Eleanor strong.
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Speaking of muscles, Jack and Owen are also in on the program.
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Caring for animals is a big responsibility. Farm Chores happen twice a day.
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Our theme is “Don’t take food from a stranger. Know your farmer.”
It helps when you’re doing the harvest. Nearby farmers also visit us.
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What do you do when the camp gardens give you too many cucumbers?
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You make pickles.
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The workshops were different each week. This one was ‘Pesto Making.’ Yes, we were also overloaded with basil.
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screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-9-39-02-amWe are lucky to be hosted by a woman with a ton of skills. Antiquity Oaks CEO Deborah shared her expertise, like how to make dryer balls and natural skin care products.
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We missed the Rio Olympics, but held our own version. We’re pretty certain Farm Camp events were a little different.
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Most of the property is not actually farmed, so we explored.
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At times, that left us to cross Muddy Creek in awkward places. We learned how it got it’s name.
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The summer was hot and humid and that same creek cooled us down.
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The Farm Camp Brew (herbal tea) also did the trick. Thank you ice 🙂
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The Thursday night Talent Shows revealed hidden skills and big personalities.
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All fueled by good food. Including desert.
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The last week, we made wooden spoons, with instructor Teddy Z.
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Yes, there’s time to relax, sometimes with Arthur, the farm puppy.
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A summer day on the farm is long, with lots to do, but it’s not always easy and we’re OK with that. Each day is different, with a certain amount of challenge. We believe all kids are capable of more than they know and our our aim is for campers to understand how competent they are through their experience of doing.
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Kathleen says, “See you next year.” In the meantime, take care of your teeth.
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Next year: More animals, more experts, more workshop and more fantastic food, We can hardly wait to welcome you.

Camp Packing List, v.2016

Camp Packing List, v.2016

What to Bring. What not to Bring.

Proper packing is important to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Please label everything. Don’t bring anything you’re afraid to get dirty or lose!

To bring (mandatory):
___ footwear: two pairs (closed toe). no flip flops
___ water bottle
___ cap or hat
___ bedding: sleeping bag or twin sheets and pillow
___ flashlight or headlamp
___ 4 short-sleeve shirts
___ 2 long sleeve shirts (light weight)
___ 2-3 shorts
___ 1-2 long pants (light weight or blue jeans)
___ 4 underwear
___ 4 pair socks (at least 2 are long)
___ 1 sweatshirt or fleece
___ 1 rain jacket or poncho (with hood)
___ 1 bathing suit (no swimming, but we have fun with hoses/sprinkler)
___ toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, if necessary)
___ bath towel and wash cloth
___ sunscreen
___ insect repellant (no aerosol)
___ laundry bag(s) for dirty clothes

May bring (optional):
rain boots
journal and/or sketch pad
book
disposable camera

Things to leave at home (not allowed):
If a camper brings any of the following items, they will be held by camp staff until camp end.
*any electronic item, including cell phones
*food or candy
*make up or perfumed cosmetic products
*fireworks, matches, candles or lighters
*pocket knives

p.s. All animals found at camp stay at camp.
Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.42.49 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 9.37.16 AM

Friendly Farm Animals

Friendly Farm Animals

Ten minutes into my first farm tour of Antiquity Oaks, I noticed something was different. We had walked into the first pasture and goats pranced over to greet me. Then, in the mud pen, a pig approached me.  When I bent down to acknowledge her, the pig fell down on her side. Deborah said, “Oh, she just loves it when you to scratch her belly.” We walked around for a few more minutes and I noticed a cow following close behind. When I stop, the cow comes in close- like she was going to kiss me. Deborah says, “Oh, she just thinks you’re going to hand feed her hay.”

I had to ask: “Deborah, how is it that your animals are so friendly?” It turns out that each spring Antiquity Oaks brings in WOOFers to care for the newborn farm animals. Generally, it’s college students who want to learn more about farming/homesteading and Antiquity Oaks shows them the ropes, which happens to include lots of time sitting with the newborns in the barn. In the process, the animals learn to love human contact.

That said, not all of the grown animals come cozying up to me. The ducks, chickens, pheasants, turkeys mostly keep their distance. The sheep in the pasture do come greet me, but the llama (their protector!) makes sure I know who’s in charge. Note: Picture of Deborah and her kids.

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P.S. The old farm horse is as gentle as can be!

Summer 2016 Sneak Peak

Summer 2016 Sneak Peak

OK, a big change for 2016 is the location and having lots of friendly farm animals, but it’s not the only difference.

A Second Cooking Instructor and a Cob Oven.
This is HUGE. To the best of our knowledge, we’re the only camp where a handful or so of kids produce nearly all the meals for the entire camp. It’s great because kids love being in the kitchen creating awesomeness, but it also means we’re on the clock to get meals prepared by a certain time.  A second full-time instructor opens up way more possibilities.

Speaking of possibilities….last year, we had no oven. We are busy planning cooking adventures around the new cob oven. Think great bread, custom pizzas and roasted veggies.

A Production Veggie Farmer.
Antiquity Oaks has grown vegetables and herbs for their CSA members for years, but this year operations are expanding. After working on three different farms, former intern Sarah has returned to Antiquity Oaks and is converting the two acre hay field to vegetable production. She’s growing for a Chicago Farmer’s Market, and is creating a 2,000′ Nature’s Farm Camp Garden with loads of produce for us to harvest in July & August.

Fewer Mosquitos.
With the record rainfall of June, 2015, and subsequent standing water, mosquitos were especially difficult last year. Even if we get crazy rain again this summer, we’ll be in better shape, partly because the surrounding area has fewer wetlands & our nearly 80 chickens and ducks keep the mosquitos at bay.

A Real Shower.
We understand that most kids are OK going five days without a shower, but, since we’ll be with far more farm animals this year, having a shower will be nice.

Next post: About hostess Deborah and why the farm animals are so people friendly.

Summer 2015 in Review (with pictures)

Summer 2015 in Review (with pictures)

Wow, what a summer!Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.07.14 PM

Furry-feathered animals welcome us to camp. The chickens and ducks do more than entertain us though…
IMG_8130After eating loads of leaves, seeds and bugs, they offer us food to eat.
Food! It’s all about great food!
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That food we turn into meals, prepared by the campers, from scratch!
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Of course, it must first be harvested.IMG_7635

At times, we take breaks to check on the chickens (to make sure they’re OK).
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And, yes, sometimes the food comes from nearby farmers like Hazzard Free Farm or delivered by cool farmers like Trale of Chestnut Cliff Farm (both families have been farming on their lands for 150+ years).IMG_8214

Farmer Melvin also delivers sweet corn he picks earlier in the day.
As nice as it all that is, and it is nice, the best part may be eating all the deliciousness!
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IMG_7819Well fueled, we’re ready for outdoor adventure all over the place.IMG_7938
On, or over, the hay bales.IMG_7828

In the trees.IMG_7951

Getting our hands dirty in the creek 🙂IMG_8257

Making art in The Creation Station.11895066_1163348357013420_8587407576564485638_o

Or working on Food System dioramas in The Wood Shop.IMG_8271

Oh, and don’t forget chores. It seems like there’s always work to be done- like taking care of the goats.IMG_8180

After chores, we go explore a bit. Sometimes, even with storyteller and naturalist .
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If we’re out of gas, maybe we take it easy.IMG_8299

 

We want to make sure we have enough energy to test our muscles.
Or to create musical performances.IMG_8018

To entertain at the campfire.IMG_7795

 

But before long, it’s time to head for bed.IMG_8322

 

Who would have thunk it’s possible to have so much fun without electronics and processed food?11822690_1149461121735477_6214630600188331278_n

Thanks also to our hostess. Nance Klehm welcomed us to her land and taught workshops where we learned about our connections to nature.

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Speaking of connections, did I mention Food?
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Or tell you who loves the broccoli?IMG_8102

What a summer!

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Camper Packing List

Camper Packing List

What to Bring.
What not to Bring.

Proper packing is important to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Please label everything. Don’t bring anything you’re afraid to get dirty or lose!

To bring (mandatory):
___ 4 short-sleeve shirts
___ 2 long sleeve shirts (light weight)
___ 2-3 shorts
___ 1 long pants (light weight)
___ 4 underwear
___ 4 pair socks
___ 1 sweatshirt or fleece
___ 1 rain jacket or poncho (with hood)
___ 1 bathing suit
___ footwear: two pairs, one closed toe, no flip flops
___ toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, if necessary)
___ bath towel and wash cloth
___ sunscreen
___ insect repellant (no aerosol)
___ water bottle
___ cap or hat
___ sleeping bag (or twin sheets) and pillow
___ flashlight or headlamp
___ plastic bag(s) for dirty clothes

May bring (optional):
rain boots
journal and/or sketch pad
book
disposable camera

Things to leave at home (not allowed):
If a camper brings any of the following items, they will be held by camp staff until camp end.
*any electronic item, including cell phones
*food or candy
*make up or perfumed cosmetic products
*fireworks, matches, candles or lighters
*pocket knives