ALL IN A DAY AT TLW
Splattered Paint, the Traveling Musician, Body Scrubs,
BYO Pizza and Butterfly Symmetry
by Amakiasu Howze, Garden Educator
Director,Truly Living Well
There are days like this, at Truly Living Well Summer Camp, when spontaneity meets curiosity, meets hands-on building, hard work, good food, and art, in this case, painting the threatened Monarch Butterfly. Yes, all in one day! The story begins when I was in search of old discarded bed frames (to use as raised beds). I found them all in one place two days apart; curbside throwaways in mint condition and just ½ block from our camp site! The day began with an inspection of drills charging, bits, screws and a call out from our lead counselor. Determined to get our bed to its home in the garden, I set out to put the side boards on and leg extensions. Campers naturally came around to assist and their help was genuinely needed. On site for a small installation, (a free library for our camp!), our resident builder saved the day and pressed those screws right through!
Our standard mixed age groups had morphed into something else today, so we went with the flow. It was a sight: seven or eight of our younger campers transporting the crib sized bed across the parking lot to its designated location. They were well supervised by seasoned counselor, Noah White, and yours truly, with all of us jockeying for the best position for hands and body to negotiate this task. Not one child dropped out, nor complained, in earnest, anyway! The bed was complete and quite beautiful, since campers had painted it, splattered it actually, the day before: royal blue and magenta on soft yellow. Next week the bed will be filled with soil and planted up by the campers!
Just a wee bit later, while transitioning to our next activity, the strumming of a guitar caught everyone's attention. In no time, under a large tree, all campers stood before this traveling musician, enthralled by the beauty of the sounds such an instrument makes. He asked if there were any requests after playing one tune and several children shouted, Michael Jackson! After a few notes we all caught the familiar song, Billie Jean, and campers crooned along. What an unexpected treat!
At this time of year, the garden is at full tilt, with all things growing like crazy, including the undesirables. This holds true in our herb garden too, where rosemary, mint, lemon, balm, thyme, oregano and lavender also jockey for position. Campers sampled some of these aromatic herbs right in the garden and then made salt body scrubs with essential oils, dried herbs and flowers. They sniffed and stirred and placed the ingredients of their choice in bags to take home. Happily, the campers tucked away their scrubs for a comfy bath or shower at home.
Hunger had set upon us by now, and lunch was being laid by our chef and her crew. It was the highlight of the week, the piece de resistance! Starting with pita bread and homemade tomato sauce, campers walked around the table adding ingredients of their choice, including sliced cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers in a vinaigrette sauce, TLW arugula, cheese and a green salad made from TLW's Romaine lettuce. At least half of the campers returned for seconds. So did I!
Planning the menu for next week. In groups, campers searched for recipes, given a food item currently available at Truly Living Well. They did spectacularly well. Possible menu items included candied carrots, apricot ginger carrots and an apple cabbage salad. This was both a refresher in the academics of research (how to use an index and table of contents and what's the difference between the two?) and an introduction to meal planning and having a voice in what one eats. Boy oh boy! What a camp!
Finally, for chill down time in our club house, campers made a Monarch butterfly with black and orange paint. They started by painting a half butterfly first on a folded paper, then folded it over to duplicate the side already completed. Orange was added next and antennae. Each butterfly is distinctly different and truly beautiful! This activity was intended to reinforce this summer's theme: Increasing biodiversity through habitat preservation and restoration. Our emphasis is on building a certified Monarch Way Station at Wheat Street Garden.
Parents will be able to see most of these projects at our closing programs which take place on the last Friday of each camp session. Is this magic or just a wonderful hodgepodge of things that happen when gardens and the people who work and play in them get together..........or both?!