Vitamin N: Nature

boy and dog in woods

You guys, I’m melting…

Let me first say that here, in the fall of 2020, it’s time we start recording and loudly celebrating our wins. Hopefully, that’s something you’ve been doing all along, but in case it’s not – it’s time to pad that scorecard and complete a full-spirited happy dance for each and every little victory from now until the end of the year.


I’m going to go first.


I planned some experiential learning into our homeschool curriculum this year. This decision was in part because it’s likely the first and last year that I’ll have the flexibility of both kids schooling at home. Also, it’s 2020, and we are going to inject fun wherever we can – it’s a survival mechanism at this point.



So, after about a week of learning about packing for camp, survival skills and wild animal encounters, we loaded up the car and took off to claim a primitive campsite to call home for a few days. The magic happened within a few moments of arrival: cooperation took the place of competition and each child volunteered to take on certain responsibilities to set up camp. 

I’d love to say that things went smoothly from there, but they didn’t. In fact, we had a calamity of errors for the first number of hours. In the end, it was an amazing trip that fulfilled us in ways we didn’t expect – and that is why I’m melting.


 This week, as we settle back into our familiar routines, I asked my kids to engage in freewriting about their experience and lessons learned. What they produced is pure gold: 

My son (13) wrote about the importance of planning. This is hilarious if you know him. He explains this hard-fought lesson by relating a story about how he unrolled his tent and laid it flat on the ground because he forgot his tent poles at home (yep, you read that right). In his essay, he espouses the importance of carefully checking equipment before packing.

boy and dog in woods

He goes on to describe the habits and characteristics of European hornets in great detail, his sudden interest sparked by their infestation of multiple trees on our site, which led us to urgently select an alternate location. The richest tidbits here include the number of hornets that populate each nest (200-400), that they DO sting, and that they’re more active at night. Dreamy, right?


Oh, and he adds that setting up (and breaking down and re-setting up) camp should be done early so that there is plenty of daylight left to find firewood before nightfall. Can’t argue with that!

girl cooking over fire

But, he saves the best for last: Describing the wonder of being in nature to “enjoy the outdoors and take a break from the WiFi and internet.” Right on, kiddo. Say it louder for the folks in the back!


My daughter (11) took a more practical approach to this assignment by describing the importance of identifying and collecting dry wood (versus wet wood), then learning how to create, tend, and cook food over a fire. She feels these are vital lifeskills, and I think she’s right.


So, while I have one comedic storyteller and one survivalist-educator, it’s clear that this trip was a big win. Our laughter echoed in the forest, even as we escaped the treacherous hornet-filled trees and drove home (a quick trip, luckily) to retrieve tent poles. Now that we’re back into the familiar routines of school and work, we all feel a little lighter, a little clearer, and little more prone to joking around. Sometimes, Mom still gets it right – and that’s a sentiment I’m carrying with me all the way through December.

Your turn! What are your recent wins, no matter how small? I’d love to celebrate with you – let me know in the comments!

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