COIPP Picnic 2022

While we farm folk don’t usually bring our animals off the property for programs, we make an exception for the Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (COIPP). Their back-to-school picnic at Staley Park is always a wonderful event and we are delighted to bring our smaller animals to attend alongside the ~100 other children, parents, and volunteers. This year, Joy (our former barn manager) and I attended alongside Banjo, Mohawk, and Annabelle (our goats) and Ingrid and Barbara (our chickens).

We set up a portable fence a little ways away from the main pavilion and awaited our visitors. It was such fun to receive everyone and share our furry and feathered friends. One girl, who had previously come to our farm as a Head Start student, spent nearly the whole evening with us in the pen. She educated everyone who came through on the rules – be gentle, don’t chase, pet the chickens like this, etc. 

It was a wonderful evening for all. Thanks to the COIPP organizers who invited us! We hope to do some events for this organization on the farm soon!

Posted in Youth Programs

Living Through Loss ’22

We were honored to host Living Through Loss, a support group for parents who have lost a child to overdose led by Jamie Eaton, MS, LCPC. The attendees were welcomed at ThorpeWood’s lodge before heading out to their various workshops all across the property. All through the day, they cycled between their four chosen activities, plus a group lunch at our pavilion and a closing concert in our pine cathedral.
Check out the amazing line-up of workshops that Jamie put together:
Healing Through Advocacy for Change
Healing Through Our Broken Stories: The Power and Influence of Story
Healing Through Narrative: How to Communicate Your Story Through the Arts
Healing Through Nature: A Forest Therapy Walk
Healing Through Equine Art
Healing Through Reading Resources
Healing Through Tuning In: Self-Calming Your Nervous System
Healing Through Creative Expression: Affirmations and Collage
 
These workshops took place all over our beautiful property – at the deck of the Little Pond Cottage, in and around the lodge, at our barn, and so many other wonderful spots. The participants were exceptionally appreciative of all our animals, staff, and property. It was a joy to have them here and to share in their stories.
 
Here is one beautiful email we received after the event:
Your kindness in offering a special retreat for Living thru Loss was remarkable and greatly appreciated.  I joined this group last year following the death of my young daughter and this has given me a space and place to meet others in a group none of us ever wanted to join.  But we find ourselves in this life with great highs and lows, and opportunities for joy and sadness.  You offered us a wonderful day to both rejoice for our lives and to grieve together under the skies of Thorpewood, in a peaceful setting with the animals, nature, and Katie, Chester and a lovely woman who helped with the horses.
Thank you to all who made the day special. We can’t wait to have everyone back again soon for another Living Through Loss event!
Posted in Adult Programs, Forest Therapy

Camp Journey Visits (August ’22)

Our friends at Camp Journey were busy at the farm all week long! Run by Sheppard Pratt, Camp Journey is an overnight respite program for 11-17 year old children with mental illness. Each night of the week, a different group of kids calls Camp Journey home.

So, to serve ALL of these youth, we blocked off the full week – mornings, afternoons, and evenings for this wonderful group. They filled out our week nicely, largely coming in the evenings with small groups. We were delighted to have these wonderfully intimate groups of kids with us at the farm. Together, we went on hikes, fished, took care of the animals and property, walked the goats, painted the horses, and so much more!

The highlight of my week was definitely the Thursday evenings girls. These girls were exceptionally present with the animals and happily groomed and painted our horse Vinur for such a long time. We so admired how deeply they felt the experience. When these girls returned the next morning after spending the night at Camp Journey, they took our Pgymie/Nigerian Dwarf goats on a 2-hour adventure all around the property. It was such a beautiful experience!

The counselors at Camp Journey always impress us with how thoughtful and connected they are with the students. They are very much mentors and role models in everything they do. We were so appreciative of how much they embraced the experience alongside the children. We are looking forward to having them back again someday soon!

Posted in Youth Programs

Forest Therapy at ThorpeWood

We ThorpeWoodians are delighted to add Forest Therapy to our programs! Forest Therapy is a mindful walk in nature led by a certified forest therapy guide. Through a sensory awakening meditation and guided forest invitations, participants are called to engage deeply with the forest, tune into their senses, and become fully present. 

The History:

Forest therapy comes from the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku ( 森林浴 ), which translates to forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku started in Japan in the 1980s to address the increasing levels of burnout and the negative health effects of urbanization and indoor tech-based jobs. The movement spread across the world and is becoming increasingly popular here in the U.S.

The Science:

Scientific research done in Japan and around the world discovered there are quite a few health benefits to this practice. They include reduced stress, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improved concentration, creativity, and mood. Although simply slowing down and coming into the present moment is partly responsible for the health benefits, the simple presence of the trees also plays an important role. Trees have a component of their immune system called phytoncides, which are aromatic oils that defend against pests and pathogens. When you smell an evergreen tree, you are smelling its phytoncides. When we inhale these phytoncides, our immune system gets a boost in the form of increased natural killer cells, our first line of defense against stressed cells.

For more information on the health benefits of forest therapy, check out these research studies:

What to Expect:

A traditional two-hour-long forest therapy walk consists of a sensory awakening meditation, guided invitations, and tea. All of these are designed to have participants slow down, open their senses, and relax into the present moment. The session begins with the sensory awakening meditation in which participants are invited to ease into the forest and present moment. The bulk of the walk is occupied by a series of nature-connection invitations, which guide participants in their sensory experiences of the woods. After each invitation, participants are welcome to share their observations and experiences. If an invitation doesn’t resonate, that’s ok. Participants are free to do whatever sits well with them – because it is their time—time to relax, enjoy, and simply be. At the conclusion of each walk, participants join together for tea. During this time, we wrap up our experience together and ease ourselves back out of the forest.

Walks shorter than two hours may not include tea, but the spirit of the final component will still be brought to the walk.

Location:

ThorpeWood will be running forest therapy sessions on our 160-acre property and off-site at local public green spaces for high-need groups who cannot make it to the property. 

Next Steps:

If forest therapy sounds like a good fit for you or your group, please reach out to Katie at [email protected] to organize a walk. 

Posted in Adult Programs, Forest Therapy, Nature Preserve

HS Summer Camp 2022

 

Head Start is back for the summer! Here’s our curriculum for our 5 days together:

Day 1

Morning

Stream hike from neighbor’s driveway to our pond

Nature journaling on the dock

Hay playground!

Afternoon

Lunch & free play

Slip N Slide

Snuder Says

Day 2

Morning

Extreme obstacle course

Animal visits & grooming

Afternoon

Lunch & free play

Tee shirt decoration

Day 3

Morning

Explore

Horse painting & bathing

Afternoon

Lunch & free play

Slip N Slide

Day 4

Morning

Farm Work Day!

Hammer & nails in the workshop

Stone dust into chicken pen

Pitchforks & horse manure

Hay playground

Tractor & machine inspection

Groom Horses

Mud kitchen

Afternoon

Lunch & free play

Extreme hide and seek

Day 5

Morning

Final Animal Visit

Wagon Ride

Exploring on the trail (observation hike?)

Stream Play

Afternoon

Lunch & marshmallows 

Read The Worry Stone & find worry stones

Hike back

Posted in Head Start, Youth Programs

Frederick Health Bereavement Team Retreat

Each year, we host Frederick Health’s ‘Camp Jamie,’ a grief camp for kids. This is led by Kaili Van Waveren and the rest of the bereavement team. This past week, this team of six needed a retreat of their own, so naturally, they made their way up the mountain to us! This lovely group of women came to the farm with open hearts and minds – ready to soak in every bit of the farm.

We began the day with a two-hour forest therapy session. After a sensory awakening meditation in the pine cathedral, we moved into our invitations for the day. The women were exceptionally in-tune with everything around us, which made for a wonderfully rewarding session. Towards the latter half of the outing, many of the women took me up on my invitation to remove their shoes. I was beyond delighted to lead these barefooted ladies to our final parts of the walk – a ‘sit spot’ around the pond and tea on the dock. 

Every bit of the forest therapy walk was a treat – but the highlight for me was right at the end. Just as we were sharing our insights and experiences of our ‘sit spot,’ a great blue heron soared in prehistoric glory right at us before landing in a nearby tree. All eyes turned to one woman, who translated for me the meaning behind the moment: the great blue heron is her spirit animal.  

After our morning together, I released the women back into the pine cathedral for their lunch. When their picnic ended, they moved into the pavilion for some team-building activities. We ended the day with visits to our farm animals – the horses, goats, and chickens. 

It was wonderful to be able to offer this group of women a day of peace and restoration. We hope they come back soon!

Posted in Adult Programs, Forest Therapy

KLU Camp 2022

This summer, we’ve been delighted to host Kids Like Us on the farm. KLU provides year-round counseling and support for children affected by alcohol or drug use in the family. During the summer, each of the 6 weeks of camp (serving 6 different age groups) features one day at the farm. The kids always descend from the vans bouncing with enthusiasm. The kind-eyed counselors, Lauren and Murissa, follow behind. 

Usually, they begin with bagged lunches in the farm pavilion or in the pine cathedral before making their way around the farm to visit with our animals. The kids are all full of questions and fascination out in the field with the horses, oohs and awws with our baby goats, delighted squeals at our cows, and gentle admiration of our chickens. After these animal visits, the kids and counselors make their way up to our fire ring.

At the fire ring, they make a fire and s’mores before burning their ‘peace box.’ The peace box is a paper mache box with a slot on top. All school year, the children write down their worries, fold them up, and release them into depths of the peace box. They know that when KLU comes to ThorpeWood, those worries will be burned up and released as smoke into the wooden mountainside. Our trees are proud to absorb and purify these worries – and then return peace to our KLU visitors’ hearts in their stead. 

Posted in Youth Programs

ThorpeWood’s Tipi

We are so excited to announce that our tipi is up in the arboretum! This is such an exciting addition to the farm – a place for groups of all ages to gather – for meetings, overnights, fires, and more. We are still working on the interior flooring to make this space more cozy and welcoming, but it is well on its way to becoming one of the main hubs of the farm!

This tipi comes to us from Nomadics Tipi Makers. We carefully selected where to buy our tipi based on the values of the company. So here’s a bit about Nomadics Tipi Makers’ mission and values:

  • All artwork is done by Native American artists living in the Pine Ridge Reservation, who receive 100% of the art fee
  • For each tipi pole sold, they pay Redcloud Renewables (Native-American owned) to plant one tree on the Pine Ridge Reservation
  • Provide college scholarships to young, native women
  • Major donations to Native American groups and movements
  • Certified by Green America based on
    • 100% organic cotton for all fabrics
    • less than 1% waste reduction
    • recycled material projects
    • minimum wage of $15/h, 6% of 401(k) contribution
    • sustained support of Native Americans in forms of shelter, education, and legal service programs.
  • Certified by 1% for the Planet, a pledge to donate 1% of sales to environmental organizations.
  • For more details, visit: https://tipi.com/we-care/

We see the tipi as a valuable addition to the farm for many reasons. We especially enjoy it as a means of time travel, a ‘living artifact,’ by which we can enjoy and connect with nature as Native American did. As such, we start each group’s visit to the tipi with this historical context, adapted based on age level:

The word tipi comes from the Lakota word thipi, which translates to “a dwelling” or “they dwell.” Nomadic tribes that lived on the plains had tipis as portable homes to move with the bison herds. The woman of the family was in charge of the tipi in all forms – making it, putting it up, taking it down, and maintaining it. It apparently only took 30 minutes for her to erect it solo! Her only help was from dogs, who helped to move the tipi from one location to the next.

Tipis were painted to reflect the history of the family who lived in it. The base of the tipi was meant to reflect the earth on which we live. Our tipi is painted with ‘many mountains’ to represent our place here in the Catoctin Mountains. The top part of the canvas honors father sky. Ours features a ‘Morning Star,’ which is unpainted so that it can glow with the fire inside. Below the star, we have two solid bans, which are traditionally called the ‘buffalo trail.’ Our top band is terracotta and the bottom band is blue with unpainted moon phases. The poles, which extend a ways past the top of the canvas, are meant to connect the earth to the spirit world.

The middle region of the canvas should represent the experiences of the family who lives there. On the exterior, we have chosen animals who live in our area, including a deer, eagle, horse, coyote, redtail hawk, and owl. On the interior, we have horses running, sunshine, and a raven. The door is painted with a classic Plains-style shield with a Sioux/Arapaho center design.

All of this art is designed and placed at the discretion of the artist. As mentioned above, the artists are all native people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This arrangement brings money to the poorest county in the United States, keeps this fresco art form alive, and contributes to the authenticity of the tipi.

We are so excited to share our tipi with all of our farm visitors!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

Humble Warriors 2022

The greatest treat of the summer – we hosted CCPS’s Humble Warriors camp again this June! Thanks to Stephanie Dale for founding the camp and bringing it to ThorpeWood! In the first week of camp, many of last year’s girls returned to be trained as counselors, and get a special couple extra days of camp. It was a true delight to see so many familiar smiles. The brilliance of bringing back last year’s campers really appeals to us farm folk for a few reasons:

First, what a way to empower these girls who need some extra support! Being the older girls, the counselors, the role models is such a boost to the developing self-esteem of these middle school girls.

Second, we know that when kids step off a school bus into an unfamiliar place, they look to each other and their teachers to know how to behave. When the new campers see the older girls feeling at ease, friendly with the farm staff, and engaged in all things camp, they settle in so much faster and with more confidence. 

Third, we farm folk really value continued relationships with our program participants. One lone visit to the farm is nice – a beautiful moment in time. But the magic of the farm is best experienced with multiple visits – when visitors start to view the farm as a place to count on, a safe haven, a home-away-from-home. How meaningful it is to know that these new girls will be back again come next June! The relationships we developed during this week of camp will maintain and grow into next year. 

To recap our 7 glorious days together, camp was a beautiful smorgasbord of activities centered around knowing yourself better and how to care for that self. These activities were rooted in our homestead barn, the girls’ homebase for camp. Here, they spent their days doing yoga, journaling, painting, and thinking about their identities and futures. Outside of the barn, the girls visited with our farm animals, painted the horses, hiked, played in the stream, rock hunted, cruised down the slip n’ slide, fished, row boated, and more – all nature and animal based activities that are restorative to the soul.

We farm folk so enjoyed our time with these Humble Warriors. 

Until next year…

Posted in Youth Programs

Tot Explorers at the Stream

We were delighted to welcome back Adam’s County’s Moms Supporting Moms Tot Explorer group last week. They originally came out this past December for some good old farm fun in the cold mountain winter air. This time around, they enjoyed a wonderful mountain summer day in the stream. We began with a hike down our Coffee Hollow trail (which was quite an adventure for the youngest among us!) before making our way into the stream itself. The children frolicked nicely in the water – finding the prettiest rocks, backtracking up waterfalls, and splashing in the deeper pools.

After a good bout of waterplay, the children retired to the fern-covered shore for lunch. We circled up around a little campfire which moms pulled snacks and sandwiches out of their backpacks. It was wonderful to be still and thoughtful in the middle of the woods in this way. Were the children stunned into silence by the beauty of our mountain that day – or were mouths just filled with sunbutter and gluten-free crackers?

No telling…

Posted in Youth Programs