Sunday, September 12, 2010

Camping, Homeschool Style

Our family recently went on a camping trip to Lake Dennison in Massachusetts with dh's parents.  I planned for this trip to be loaded with nature hikes and plant and bug identifcation.  I brought lots of nature identification books and our "bug bag."  No, it is not a bag of bugs like the name would suggest but it is what we have termed the bag that keeps all our nature hike stuff like our bug vacuum, little clear boxes with magnifier lids, a handheld microscope and other magnifying glasses and binoculars.  We did get these out and use some of the items from our bag but I was disappointed that we didn't use our nature supplies as much as I hoped, at least three times a day with children showing awe and amazement at every natural thing they could find.  No, it never quite works out the way I plan.  And while I usually worry that I'm not teaching my children anything on these camping trips, it only takes one neighboring camper with a passel of boys who ran and chased each other from the moment their vehicle pulled in to remind me of what our kids did learn and experience.  Setting up camp in itself was a learning experience for my kids who helped from beginning to end.  (Uh, not without a little grumbling of course but we're working on that.)  This is not the first time we've camped, nor the first time they've had to help set up but every opportunity provides review and new lessons in the great outdoors.
 They also got to ride on Poppaw's new boat which ds helped to assemble a few days earlier as a practice assembly. DMIL purchased this boat and trolling motor for DFIL as a retirement gift.  They can easily pack it away in their camper and bring it on long excursions when he wouldn't want to haul the large boat behind the camper on a trailer.  I think he was just delighted with the gift and Mommaw is happy for him to be able to fish whenever he wants.  It's really a one person boat but it has a large weight capacity and just enough room in front for an extra small person.  DD enjoyed being shuttled back from the beach in it too on our last swimming day. Here she is shoving off. 
Every spare moment when an adult was available to go along or at least keep watch, the kids were swimming like fish. And this was the chance dh needed to get our youngest dd riding her two wheeler on her own. Hurray! She came home an expert.

We almost always saw my oldest with a book in her hand. It was a good opportunity to get some of her school reading done. The book she is holding is called Dear and Glorious Physician, a semi biography of Luke by Taylor Caldwell and an excellent read so says DD. 
The stars were beautiful each night lending conversations about constellations and the upcoming meteor shower we were excited about.  In the sky on the last night of our trip we should have been able to see 3 planets near the moon and that was to be followed by a meteor shower.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy all day and night so we didn't get to see what God had aligned for us.  But we did stay dry in the rain with my dh's awesome tarping. 
Oh yes, and nature, we did observe lots of that too although we did not identify everything.  This moth, a hemlock looper was spotted on my van door one morning.  It was pretty in its own way but I was most excited for this flower identification: 
The pickerelweed grows along the side of lakes and ponds and is quite beautiful in August.  We had just seen a great mass of these a few days earlier in a shallow river bed (that really seemed more like a pond) when we were at the Civil War reenactment in Brimfield, MA.  By the time we saw them at the campground they were almost completely out of bloom with only a few flowers remaining.  Ducks love to eat the seeds from the pickerelweed which explains why we saw a duck family visit this spot quite often during our stay.

There was plenty to do while camping and although it wasn't the science field trip I had hoped it to be, it was a fine educational event for our family, full of God's surprising lessons.  Now, September is the best time to camp.  The weather is cool, the kids are in school so homeschoolers often get the pick of the campsites with our flexible schedules and often times the rates are cheaper because it is considered off-season.  I wish we could get another trip in!

1 comment:

Pamela said...

We love fall camping too! The smaller crowds once school starts are one of the many blessings of homeschooling. Even if you can't get another camping trip in, this is a great season for hikes and exploring outdoors. Happy Autumn!