It's hard not to be awed by natural phenomena, whether we've traveled to see the aurora borealis or simply glimpsed the beauty of the green flash as the sun set on another California day. Although we are still completely dependent on nature, we don't notice it like our ancestors did when they had to be keyed in to everything that was happening at every season or starve. Seasonal changes determined what was on the menu, where they should live, and predicting those changes based on years of observation provided a basis for preparation for the future.
Our genetic makeup is still connected to these changes because we lived in harmony with them for longer in history than we have with the modern conveniences that lessen their effects. And so it brings out something in us that we identify as awe or wonder when we take in a magical natural experience. These experiences are critical in restoring the historical connection to nature that humans had. When that connection is nurtured we care for nature and thus help sustain what sustains us. Everything comes from the Earth.
All of our camps, and our Camp Solstice in particular, nourishes those natural connections by celebrating the changes in the seasons that occur in Marin. The bright green grass of spring turns to the gold of autumn, plants go to seed and trees fruit, many of the birds fly north to take advantage of the explosion of insects in the arctic and so fewer birds and insects are seen here, upwelling along the coast leads to clear mornings and afternoon fog which then subsides to reveal a warm second summer where even the great Coast redwood trees begin to brown, stressed and waiting for the return of the rainy season.
Campers are encouraged to take note of these changes and have hands on experiences with plants that often involve creating artistic celebrations of summer. Tie dyeing with natural dyes they make themselves, singing songs while playing instruments they built from recycled materials, and stopping to listen to the sounds of the grasses while practicing yoga moves, are just some of the experiences that help kids slow down and nurture that natural connection to nature that is within them. As I watched a camper carefully sanding and yarn wrapping a beautiful walking stick in the making that would be used all summer long and beyond, I felt awe, knowing that that child was coming into tune with what is truly central to all of our lives - nature.