We had the pleasure of having a grade 9 class from the Steiner Waldorf school in Noosa stay with us for a 2 week farm stay school camp. They are a fantastic group of kids, supervised and guided by great teachers and it was an enriching experience for us.
The kids (young adults I should say, as they are 15) were divided up into 3 groups which rotated every day. One day they would do domestic chores , the next they would do building and the next they would be the farm crew. The domestic crew did the cooking for everyone in the camp kitchen space, dishes, emptying and cleaning composting toilets and harvest processing (peeling beans, preparing fruit for freezing etc).
The building crew was put to work building mudbrick walls, supervised by a seasoned natural builder. It was fantastic seeing it take shape over the two weeks, they did a great job building the walls. To start they did not really want to touch the mud, but after a few days they really got stuck into it and used hands and feet to work with the mud!
The farm crew helped in the mornings with the animals and then spent most of the day in the garden and around the farm helping Tom with farm duties, re-mulching, saw dusting, chipping branches used for forage and more. They also harvested (and tasted) our homegrown food. Quoting one student after tasting one of our strawberries: “Wow, they are so sweet!”
As an added extra I did two percussion workshops with them; a bit of body percussion, teaching about “odd” rhythms (7/8, 9/8 and the like), off beats and different rhythms. I also taught them some marimba pieces and got them to invent and perform their own marimba piece.
At night time they did spot lighting, card games and sat around camp fires. They were not allowed to bring any electronic devices or sugary snacks, it was very much back to basics for them. Some of the young adults were keen to stay on longer, but alas time ran out and they had to leave after two weeks.
It was great seeing a group of 15 year olds take on the tasks set for them every day and behave with respect to nature, their environment and people and animals. They all had a turn feeding the biodigester and a few of them got splashed, but it was all taken in good humour. Same with emptying the composting toilets 😉
I feel that it is essential for teenagers to be grounded by working with nature and natural materials. Teenagers often have trouble with hormonal changes, social issues and finding out who they are. In this technology driven world they often get lost and confused because there is so little to ground them. Being on a farm and/or in nature helps them re-connect to the world around them (without being “connected”). We would like to thank Ian, Rob, Olivia and Sarah for bringing such a great group of young adults (and teachers) to our farm. We had a great time and hope all of you did too. Looking forward to seeing another group here again next year!
©2016 Zaia; diyfoodandhealth.com, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading, Grade 9 Steiner Waldorf school camp at the Permaculture Farm!