Our family heard about Wilderness Awareness School through word of mouth. Friends had tried the program, spoke very highly of it, and when we looked into it further we knew it would be the perfect fit for our oldest, Henry. Henry has loved being outside since infancy. We have many memories of strapping him to our chests and going for walks and hikes, all the while his head-turning, observing, and rarely falling asleep. All of our children have had a great love of the outdoors. There has rarely been an instance when going outside has not remedied a meltdown or a time of frustration.
When Henry started in the Fox program at WAS, he came home on that first day completely covered head to toe in mud with the biggest smile on his face. “It was AWESOME” was his response when asked how his day was. Every Thursday since has been the same. Last year his younger brother Bennett joined and this year, our five-year-old Rory started in Roots and Wings. Everyone comes home muddy and happy.
When we go on our own family outdoor adventures we are constantly being taught something. Whether it is what miner’s lettuce is, or how you can tell what type of tree the bark on the ground came from, or what bird calls are being made at the moment. WAS has provided a place where our children have grown, have gained a deep understanding of how we are connected to nature, and have found a place where they aren’t the only silly, mud-covered kids. It is a great feeling dropping them off knowing they are going to have the best day.
The instructors! Oh, the instructors. What an amazing group of people that have come together to form the instructional staff for these programs. We are truly amazed by their joy, gentleness, patience, and knowledge. Knowing our children are in the hands of such capable, caring, and nurturing individuals gives us such peace of mind. Our boys have grown to love these wonderful adults in their life- we are so grateful that they are able to be around such warm and generous role models. Sometimes we think they are more excited to be there than our own children if that is even possible.
WAS provides a community unlike any we have ever seen. We are so incredibly lucky to be a part of it. Between the instructors and the feeling of serenity as you drive up to the land, WAS is such a wonderful place to be a part of. When we participated in our first entertainment night, we remember a young child who got up in front of everyone and played a song he wrote on his ukulele. The enthusiasm and kindness from the instructors and his peers for this young boy was so heartwarming (our own child performed a ridiculous silly skit that involved ketchup that he had planned for weeks with a friend and was so excited to show off his cleverness) we knew then that we would be sticking around for a while. And thanks to generous donors, our children are able to be a part of something so powerful and wonderful. We are forever grateful. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.