In our modern era, in which technology begins attacting children’s attention from their earliest experiences, how can we support children to nurture and sustain an authentic relationship with the natural world? This was the subject that Professor Ruai Gregory from the Blue Mountain College in Oregon addressed, in the series of workshops she held in Romania for teachers, volunteers and others working in the field of education. It is key to the long term survival of the planet, that the new generations develop not only respect but even more importantly, a deep sense of love for nature and its resources, and this is what Professor Gregory seeks to transmit to the children she works with.
The first workshop was held on September 21, 2015 at the AMURTEL Bio Garden in Poieni, and the second one took place in Bucharest at the Morningstar Center on September 23. Professor Gregory described the Nature Awareness Camp that she and her husband have been running for the past 15 years on the beautiful piece of property they own in the Oregon mountains. The children learn a set of “Nature Awareness skills”, which include learning to still their bodies and minds so that they can more fully open up all of their senses to observe and thus experience nature fully. Another important element in fostering a greater sense of connection to nature is through the process of naming. Giving names to trees, pathways, rocks personalizes the relationship. Professor Gregory says that even years later, children that have gone through her program may ask her with genuine interest and concern, “How is Grandmother Tree?” when they meet in town at the supermarket. Professor Gregory’s approach is simple but extremely effective and full of wisdom.
Already we have been incorporating the practice of naming things at our AMURTEL Garden, and when recently a guest visited she was amazed at how big the property seems to become when it is presented in this way – with something interesting to discover in each location.