Each year, we seemingly get to spend more and more hours with our ‘friends’ at Head Start. This year for our summer visits, we doubled the amount of students coming to visit from 30 to 60! So, for each of twelve sessions over the course of July and August, we had our troop of preschoolers exploring and enjoying every inch of our farm.
On the first day of camp, we had the bus drop off our ‘friends’ at our neighbor’s driveway. Our mission: to find our way to the farm by following the stream. And so, with parents and teachers in their leather boots and fancy flats, we poured into the river and splashed our way upstream, stopping occasionally to look at a crayfish or to build our own stone dam. Nearer to our farm, we miraculously discovered a path that led right up to our pond! Nearly lunchtime, we picnicked and hurried on to our afternoon task: painting the puppy pen! As reward for beautifying their pen, we afterward unleashed the ‘friends’ upon our double wide slip ‘n’ slide!
On day two of our summer camp, we spent time on the other end of the farm, nearer to the barn and animals. There, we spent the first bit of our day grooming and preparing our horses to be ridden. With the horses thus tacked up, we took turns riding through the woods, down the lanes, and in the arboretum. After a quick picnic at the puppy pen, we broke out the paint. Equipped with brushes and fingerpaints, our ‘friends’ artfully slathered our horses from head to hoof. Learning a lesson in cleaning up after oneself, we then took turns hosing down, sudsing up, rinsing and drying our horses. To release the last bits of energy from our legs, we spent the last half hour of the day playing in the hay.
The third and final day of camp, was, of course, stream day! Starting at the farm, we boarded the wagon for a farewell tour of the fields and animals, which conveniently ended up at our Coffee Hollow trailhead. Trekking down this fern-lined trail which follows Bussard Branch for miles, we stopped occasionally to look and listen for the stream below us. Soon enough, the trail took a steep drop and leveled out at the stream’s edge. Here, we threw shoes aside, braved the rapids, and searched for the prettiest rocks. With chattering teeth and hungry bellies, we climbed back up the bank at lunch time. Instead of finding ourselves somewhere civilized to eat in chairs, we instead sat on saddle pads on the ground and picnicked around our fire ring. With lunch done, we lit up our fire, roasted marshmallows and read a story.
Each day ended with the children soaking wet and dirty, as one should be at the close of a summer’s day. Although we expect this from the young amongst us, we were most delighted to see our teachers, aides, and bus drivers’ clothes similarly soaked and sullied. For that, we are most proud.