Preparing your Child for Camp.

Preparing your Child for Camp.

Nature’s Farm Camp is fun, exciting, and a great way to develop independence in a safe environment. However, some campers can begin to miss home while at camp. This is totally normal, but can be upsetting for the camper. In this newsletter we offer some tips that you can use before camp to help make camp awesome.

Tip 1: Talk with your child about camp. Is your child super excited about camp? Great! Then, you and your child can discuss what they’re most interested in. Is your child worried about a particular part of camp? Then, this is a great time to offer assurances and discuss strategies to help them work through their concerns. As they say, knowledge is power and the more your camper knows about camp the more likely they are to feel comfortable attending.

Tip 2: Stay positive. As a family member of the camper it is natural for you know you’re going to miss then or be a little worried about how they will do (especially if this is their first sleep away camp), but it’s important to stay positive about your camper’s trip. As a parent of the camper, you are one of the most important and trusted sources of information. If you express anxiety about your camper’s trip then they are likely to begin feeling the emotion themselves. This is not to say that you can’t let your camper know that you will miss them, but that it is beneficial to keep talk about camp positive.

Tip 3: Practice. A week long sleep away can be a lot for a camper who has never slept away from home before. It can be helpful to practice spending shorter periods of time away from home first. This will be a great way for your camper to build confidence in their ability to spend some time away from home before they spend longer periods away.
Interested in learning some of the strategies that the NFC counselors use to help campers who miss home? Check this out: click HERE.

 

Post Camp – Recipes :)

Post Camp – Recipes :)

Hello Campers,
Thank you for helping run the farm during your week at camp. It’s a rugged five days: being with new people, sleeping in tents, waking up early and doing CHORES! We set high expectations, gave you responsibility and you delivered.

Nature’s Farm Camp provides a fair amount of freedom, offering choices and a flexible schedule, but meals (and farm chores!) provide structure to our day. When the bell rings, y’all head toward the kitchen. Yet, meals are more than just that time we gather to consume enough calories for the next activity.

From garden harvests and chopping veggies to rolling out pizza crust, you all made the magic happen. We hope you enjoyed learning and practicing knife skills, exploring new foods, helping set the menu, and being proud to present and serve your peers. We understand that, for our individual health, and for the well-being of our communities, food makes the world go-round. We want to get to know all the fantastic flavors that are possible and we need food to keep us (all of us) strong.

The summer of 2017 we tried 90 different meals and snacks. For 2018, we’re focused on competency and we’ll have more kids in the kitchens more of the time…

Everyone’s busy, but food is worth coming together around. Choose great food, and enjoy sharing it. Click on the recipes below!

Awesome Chili

Date_Balls

Buckwheat Pancakes

Baba Ganoush

Veggie Burger

Pasta Verano

Camp Packing List, v. 2018

Camp Packing List, v. 2018

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):
___ water bottle
___ cap or hat
___ sunscreen
___ insect repellant (no aerosol)
___ flashlight or headlamp
___ bedding: sleeping bag or twin sheets and pillow
___ footwear: two pairs (closed toe), one that can be used for the creek, i.e. that can get wet/dirty. No flip flops.
___ 4 pair underwear
___ 4 pair socks (at least 1-2 are long)
___ 4 short-sleeve shirts
___ 1-2 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 for wading in creek and 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

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

LoyolaAcademy Article Farm Camp

Camp Schedule & Activities

Camp Schedule & Activities

Rather than a schedule with pre-set activities, our weeks on the farm are dictated partially by the interests of the campers. Non-negotiable, however, are chores and meals. It’s where we collaborate to accomplish goals, i.e. running the farm and feeding camp, and provides structure to the days.

Chores happen before breakfast and dinner and meals are served at 8:15, noon, 3:15 and 6:15. After lunch is siesta / rest-time. So, each week we begin with a framework, show the kids all the possibilities, e.g. building, art, nature, and then allow for 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 who might also be subject experts.

Note: We do our best to include campers 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 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!