Sassafras Camp adjacent to the Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary is an outdoor nature and arts camp focused on environmental and ecological education, theater, yoga, art, music, games, and play. 2015 highlights were studying macroinvertebrates and water quality, medicinal plant study and salve making, arrowhead class, Native American storytelling and theater performances, basket making with Japanese Honeysuckle, daily yoga and meditation, fresh pasta making and healthy food education, many art projects including mask making and costume design, and cooperative games that encouraged the bonding of the entire camp family.
United Plant Savers generously gave need-based scholarships to those families who couldn’t afford the full cost, enabling many new children to have the Sassafras Camp experience and expand there knowledge of local medicinal plants.
Alana Galt-thesis known to most as Lonnie whose mother started the concept of the Sasafrass camp expresses that one of her greatest joys is to watch the children’s awareness of the natural world grow over the week. Many of the children are used to spending time in the outdoors and for others this is a new experience.
By the end of the week ALL of the children are showing excitement when they spot a cool insect, plant, or other nature find. She found that those children who had not had as much exposure to nature were even more proud and amazed by their nature discoveries or with their newfound knowledge about plants and nature. One boy excitedly brought her a hatching cicada and the whole group watched as it shed its nymph exoskeleton. The care and respect shown to this cicada and all other creatures found was beautiful to watch. It seems that by studying some of the plants and animals in our area and learning about the fragility of each ecosystem, they develop a greater curiosity in the natural world and want to treat the plants and animals with respect and care.
In one exercise the children go find a place to sit and connect with nature- a plant, animal, bird song, etc. and then draw a picture, journal, or write a poem about your experience. Here are a two of the poems:
The grass on the ground and the leaves in the air. I hope I see a hopping hare. The wind on my face and the breeze in my hair, you should get out in nature no matter where. — Stanley
Dear Sassafras with a nibbled leaf, you are so wonderful to me. If I could pick some words to describe you this is what I’d say: unique and extraordinary, and not just momentarily– for even when you’re old you are with your sock, mitten, and glove. — Harvest
United Plant Savers would like to thank Clif Bar Family Foundation for the generous grant to support our programs and outreach at the Goldenseal Sanctuary and to support the Sassafras Camp.