For the first time in our farm's history, we're hosting a week-long summer camp this year June 24-28, the brainchild and entrepreneurial endeavor of our former apprentice, Molly Hestor, who returned to her home in Mississippi just this past Christmas.
She stole our hearts the 20 months she interned, apprenticed, and joined staff at Polyface; we hope she left a little of her heart here too. A certified elementary education teacher, she became frustrated quickly with institutional education. Being unable to touch students, mountains of paperwork--those of you who teach in the public schools, you know the issues.
But she loves kids. And so last year we began scheming about a children's summer camp here at the farm and I'm delighted to let everyone know that it is finally happening. We know that the road to the future lies straight through the hearts of kids. If you can get them excited about soil, grass, nutrition, and our overall dependency on an ecological womb, you have them for life.
Molly's itinerary includes everything from gathering eggs to story time in the hay barn. They'll actually learn what hay is. What a pullet is. Do you know the average college student in advanced degree programs does not know the most basic nomenclature of livestock? A cow can have horns. Sex education begins on the farm. Hens, roosters, pullets, cockerels--these are functionally quite different, and yet they all look like a chicken. Well, they are chickens, but do you know what makes them different?
Pigs: sows, boars, gilts, shoats. Bovines: cows, bulls, heifers, steers. Oh goodness, back to sex education. No this is not a camp about sex education; it is a camp about the wonder and majesty of life, including micro and macro reproduction. It's about common sense and touching life. Trees are different. Oaks, maples, poplars, white pine and black gum. They all have different functions, different bark, leaves, and structure.
And yes, death. We will not shield these children from animal harvest--chickens we do here on the farm. Respect in life creates sacredness in sacrifice. Without death nothing could live. Everything survives by eating something else. The death, decomposition, regeneration, life cycle is foundational to all of ecology, and here on the farm, kids get to see and participate in the wonder of the whole cycle and it's real, not some video screen.
Thank you, Molly, for investing in these young people. We don't even know who will come yet, but whoever comes will be treated to a visceral immersion in farm life from the most vivacious, big-hearted teacher/mentor you could ever hope kids to enjoy.
Do you send your kids to summer camp, and if so, what kind?