May ’23 Week 4: DHS, CASS, SES, and a Respite Program

We finished out May strong with a whole heap of fun and therapeutic programming!

On the 23rd, the Department of Human Services brought out their adult service workers – the social workers, aides, supervisors, and program manager. They spent most of their day at the lodge, focusing on different self-care activities. In the afternoon, the 19 participants got their choice of a few farm programs! In the first workshop, folks either did a forest therapy walk or guided nature art therapy. In the second workshop, everyone visited with the farm animals or did some self-led nature journaling around the pond. It was a great afternoon – these folks clearly needed some loosely structured outdoor time!

On the 24th, one of FCPS’s CASS coordinators brought out 8 students for a fishing adventure. These were all boys who were struggling a bit in school and needed an outdoor incentive to keep them on track. Luckily, these eight boys were able to meet their personal goals in order to earn this trip! Their school principal even came out to support them! The CASS coordinator thought it was important for the principal and the students to see each other in this new light (not in a disciplinary setting!). Our property manager, Jeff, was delighted to support this program with his fishing skills.

On the 25th, Sabillasville Environmental Charter School (SES) came to the farm! We are so delighted to be working with this group! Their 5th grade students came out for a day of observation and engagement with the natural world. After they arrived, we split the group into two to move through our activities with more ease. The two groups switched off between our two activities for the day – animal time (with grooming and horse leading) and a forest walk (with some quests and games along the way). During the forest walk, we played ‘predator and prey’ and ‘camoflague’ to get the kids engaged with the natural world around them. We also had little side quests, like finding something in the woods that begins with the same first letter as your first name. Naturally, we adopted these findings as our nicknames. So, we spent the day calling the kids Mulch, Hickory, Quill, Petal, Hair, Electric Fence, Speckles, Crack, Evergreen… it was such a fun twist!

We ended the day around the fire for some reflection time. The kids reported feeling grounded, connected, happy, and tired. They also recounted what they had observed through their five senses and shared what they had learned. We hope to have SES back again!

And to close out the month on the 30th, Laurel Hall came back again with their photography class to take photos of the farm and our animals. That evening, a local respite program came out to enjoy the animals and dinner around the camp fire. They even took the goats for a walk through the arboretum!

And that was May!