How Do You Know When It's Working?
So far 2015 has felt like The Year of Environmental Educators. Maybe it’s partly that working at KSS for both Summer Camp as well as School Programs turns a person into a public figure or celebrity of sorts, whether you expect it or not. But no matter where I go or what I do little signs crop up showing me that KSS is making a real impact in environmental education for the kids and adults we work with every day.
Last weekend I was playing fetch with a friend’s dog in the dog park at Carter Park, when a group of wide-eyed kids came up to me. “You work at KSS!” one said excitedly. “I can’t wait for camp to start next month. It’s going to be awesome!” Their mom was standing behind them nodding her head and smiling. I had a feeling they wanted me to break into a camp song right then and there.
Two weekends ago I received a message from a chaperone that had attended one of our residential School Programs this year. “I had such an amazing time. Your school seems amazing. The kids had a blast! I would love to hear more about your job and your experience in outdoor education.”
A month ago the School Programs instructors made an adventure trip to Shelf Road, Canon City, Colorado. We went rock climbing, hiking, sat around camp fires, and enjoyed amazing meals together. That week we were visited by a mountain lion. Yes, a mountain lion! Some people might find this experience terrifying, but for us it was exhilarating and another great story/learning experience to share with our students.
And even just this past weekend was no different. It was the final weekend for School Programs, a rainy and cold weekend, a weekend where your agenda list includes packing, packing and more packing; what kind of revelations can a person get on such a boring weekend? For me it came in the sign of the movie “Fern Gully.” It might seem like a “kid movie” but the message is powerful no matter how old you are. More importantly I recognized a lot of similarities between the educators here at KSS and the roles of Crysta, Magi, and Zak in the movie. It’s the shared experience of being outdoors, seeing wildlife, and connecting with friends and nature that truly makes a lasting impact. And that’s such a huge part of what we do here at KSS.
So from one environmental educator to all the others out there, I say, “It’s your year! Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working!”