Canmore Forest Play
Adventures and challenges help us build new skills and inspire us to think differently. The past few months at Forest Play, we've been on many adventures inspired by the interests of children in our Forest Friday program and the story we've been sharing at lunch. In the story, the main characters (Evalyn and Eric) find themselves traveling to the Northern Kingdom - a place where they expect to uncover the seeds of a potential war. The place they visit and the people they meet are not what they expect and their journey leads them to uncover the "pieces of peace."
Some of our adventures this season at Forest Play required agility, speed and teamwork skills to retrieve pieces of a puzzle. Other times, map reading and way finding skills were put to the test as children navigated through the forest to find the letters to spell UNITY - one of the "pieces of peace." Their ability to work through potentially frustrating challenges gave them the opportunity to see the value and importance of finding an inner sense of calm or INNER PEACE when working through difficulties. They rose to the challenge and guided their friends blindfolded through a maze of fallen logs and obstacles, rescued stranded rubber chickens and walked safely across an area of "boiling lava" using limited lava-proof tools. The final challenge of the season brought their stories and adventures from the previous weeks back in riddle form. The challenge was to recall where in the landscape those adventures occurred and to work together and use the "Good Message" while finding what they needed to light a fire and bake apples. The GOOD MESSAGE is about using our finest words when speaking about or with others.
The "pieces of peace" (Unity, Inner Peace, The Good Message) are part of what is often referred to as the "Peacemaker Principles" and have been part of traditional Haudenosaunee society for centuries. Shared through the 8 Shields Institute, we integrated them into our story and our programs so we could shine light on the puzzle of peace and how we can work together to create peace.
We were impressed by the children's creativity, problem solving skills and enthusiasm this season and look forward to seeing them again in the winter, spring or summer.
May your families have a joyful and peaceful holiday!
As the nights have become longer and the days shorter, we have all noticed the change in light. It might be that we feel more tired than other times of year, or perhaps a little more introspective and reflective. Our bodies are attuned to the changes in light and we have a "sense of light" as much as we have a sense of smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing. Some researchers, such as Dr. Michael J. Cohen, have highlighted "sense of light" amongst 52 other "natural survival senses" that all humans have. When activated, these senses can help lead us reconnect with the natural world, ourselves and others.
During the past few weeks of Forest Play, we've drawn attention to the changes in light and shared stories and inquiries about where we can find the light during the dark time of year. We've explored the forest and noticed that some places have more sun than others. We've seen how ice and water can capture and filter light. We've also noticed that trees like spruce, pine and fir are still able to gather the light of the sun- even in the depths of winter- and share it with us through their green needles. We take in some of that light when we drink our spruce tea and Christmas trees are traditionally brought into our homes to remind us that the green plants will come back and the light will return.
Within the forest, light can also be hidden, but coaxed out and shared. This happens when we burn wood in our wood stove and outdoor fire pit and also when we burn sap for candles. Using hand saws, we cut small tree cookies from dead wood and felt the exertion stoke the fire inside our bodies and bring heat to our toes and fingers. We collected sap from trees and watched as the sap extended the light and life of our matches. Providing we kept feeding the candle small amounts of new sap, it kept burning.
There is wisdom here for us too - each of us has a light we can share. Through kind words, laughter, play, stories, helpful actions and compassion for each other and nature, we share our light and in so doing move through darker days with support and hope.
May you and your family find light and joy over the holidays!
StoRies from The Forest
It is said that stories live on the wind and those who are aware and whose senses are alert, can catch the story that needs to be told in that moment.