Waldweg -- a German term that roughly translates to "Forest Tracks". Waldweg, to our family, means home. It's the place we all feel most ourselves, where we are most comfortable, where we are happiest. Waldweg is our therapy. Waldweg is our forest school where we get the incredible privilege of playing, exploring, wandering, relaxing, imagining, creating, and learning in the woods with the most amazing children you could ever meet.
At Waldweg everyone gets to be completely themselves. If you want to be loud you can be loud, if you want to sit and do nothing all day you can, if you want to chant "One, Two, Skip a Few, Ninety-Nine, One Hundred" at the top of your lungs, while bouncing on the slackline with five of your classmates for 12 minutes straight without stop (yes, this has happened on more than one occasion), you can. Our rules are few, and they are simple -- Respect the Forest and the things in it, Respect each other, and Respect the teachers. Learning how to do those things seems to come easily to children who are naturally kind-hearted, innocent and loving.
At Waldweg we trust children to decide for themselves what they are ready for and present them with opportunities to grow in their abilities, their confidence and their desire for learning. Seeing a 3 year old with a laplander saw, or a 7 year old whittling with a fixed-blade knife are common, everyday, occurrences at basecamp. If you happen to be walking past basecamp while we are there you are sure to hear fights, arguments and disagreements. There is never a day without at least one child crying and getting upset. But at Waldweg, we believe that children need the chance to try to deal with their own emotions, fix their own problems and actually have the opportunity to feel empowered by their own capabilities. Of course Mitch and I are there to help, guide and support, but we don't fix things -- the kids are the carpenters.
There is a wonderful movement out there called "Re-Wilding" which basically has people learning and practicing old-fashioned, traditional, natural skills. At Waldweg we've adapted that term a bit and we like to think that we are in the process of "Re-Childing" -- letting kids be kids. They get to run, and jump, and climb, and laugh, and scream, and cry, and sing, they get to get wet and dirty and use their imaginations to their fullest potential. Dancing fairies create the most beautiful lush moss which makes a great bed to lie down in, and fixes any "ouchie" that the kiddos may acquire. The gnomes are grumpy and shy, but they care about us and work so hard to chip away at the minerals to make them ready for the plants and trees to use as nourishment to grow. Awe and wonder are the essence of childhood and envelops us all at Waldweg.
This fall marks the start of our third year of part time programs at Waldweg. As a cool breeze wafts through the window it makes me eager and excited for the adventures and memories we will experience with old and new friends. And it makes me long for next year when we will finally offer full time forest school programs so we can romp in the woods every day with our Waldweg family. But until then, my boys and I will spend as much time at home in the forest as we can, and cherish every breath of fresh air, every animal track, and every new gift that the woods naturally gives to us.