Sunday, September 21, 2014

School In The Woods... On The Rocks... And In The River

We meet up with the same two families every year and camp for a week.  Our kids have known each other since they were born. Since moving our family out to the farm we only see these families once a year, but they are forever friends and we always have the best time together.

{My little man taking a nap on the tram on the way to a hike}

This camping thing, it's one of the things that I love most about educating our kids at home. It's hard sometimes to try something different. You often find yourselves trying to justify your choices to those who have chosen differently than you. But the thing about this one life that we've been given is just that... that we have one chance to seek our Savior and trust Him for what He has placed before our family, despite how different we may feel.

And when we go camping, it always reminds me why we're doing what we're doing. It reminds me that to raise up treasures gives us not only an opportunity to teach them math, but even more so, an opportunity to teach them life, to teach them how to really live. The whole earth is FULL of His glory and I am so grateful for all the time that the treasures and I get to be outside and discover His world, His magnificent, beautiful, extravagant world.

This week we spent our school days playing hide and go seek in the woods, following deer tracks, catching lizards, jumping into rivers, walking under waterfalls, building slides out of mud, staying up late and talking about the thousands of stars that we could see so clearly as we sat around a campfire.

What we really want our kids to learn, is that school is life and life is school. Our kids are their own best educators. I want them to know that they can know whatever it is that they want to know. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln only had ONE year of formal education. He read great books and he worked hard around his home and he grew up on the river and he had relationships with a lot of diverse, interesting people. His life was his education and from it he was a blessing to his community and he  influenced a nation for God's glory.

I long for my kids to take their own initiative. After breakfast and Bible and memory work, The Charmer packs up his back pack each day, puts on his cowboy hat and waves to me as he walks out the door, "See ya mom, I'm going on an adventure." And then I don't see the kid for a few hours. Today he ran into the house shouting my name, "Mom, Mom, Mom!!!! Guess what??? The clouds are moving, they're moving soooo fast! Have you ever seen the clouds move so fast?"

I love that! Nothing formal, no prompts, just a chance to be outside and see what he can see. When given time to themselves, I see these kids growing in their thinking. They are learning to think for themselves, to process and question, and ponder and wonder and come to their own conclusions about all the things they see and do and find. 

The first few weeks of school, after morning lessons, the four oldest kids "redecorated" their little cottage. They worked together, they cleaned it all out, they created new spaces for their art and their rock collection. They took the initiative and they spent several afternoons working hard, building their friendships with one another, and being creative.

This year we planted a garden together and ate the juiciest, sweetest strawberries right off the bush. The Cowboy helped the two older boys build a bike rack out in the stable. My Dad's friend Lori has been teaching the girls how to sew and and they have already made night gowns for themselves and their dolls. The girls and I spent an afternoon baking a pie from scratch for Gramps' birthday.

Around this farmhouse, school is life and life is school. 

{My Hal sketching the mountains early one morning}

{Hal was riding her bike and took a major digger...}

{The kids last year...}

{We added a kiddo this year, yeah Soul-man}

{And when we got home, I spent two days in stunning beautiful farmhouse basement doing load after load of laundry. The trip was worth every load.}

I'm thankful for the opportunity I've been given to be with these kids in this place, And I'm thankful for weeks away in places like Zion that remind me why we're doing what we're doing. Lord willing, our kids will grow up to have a love of learning, to be hard workers, to bless their communities and to do it all with a passion for their Savior.  

It was the best week doing school, doing life, in the woods... 
on the rocks... 
around the campfire...  
in the river.