Article by Heidi Anne Spietz
Looking back on your childhood, do you remember a specific summer that really stood out from the rest? If so, do you remember what made it so special? My hope is that the vacation ideas, booklists, hands-on lessons, crafts, recipes and other activities listed in this summer newsletter http://www.amonco.org/montessori_summer_handson.html will provide the ideas needed to make this summer a treasured set of lasting memories.
In the first part of this two-part article, five of the AMC resource partners, http://www.amonco.org/directory.html who contributed to the richness of this newsletter, have been kind enough to share some of their favorite childhood vacation memories. Take a moment now to get to know each of these professionals on a more personal level. Hopefully, the experiences shared will provide some insight on what specific childhood summer vacations really stand the test of time.
Edith Cooper, Owner of http://www.coycreek.com/ Coyote Creek Productions reflects on a special summer vacation that has had a long-lasting effect.
Magnificent waterfalls, beautiful horse trails to ride, stars to watch in the night sky: such pleasure! What more could an eight-year-old child be given? That first camping trip to Yosemite gave me much more: it forged a lifelong love of art and brought me a friendship that has lasted a lifetime.
I knew that my father was a career silkscreen artist, since I often “racked” the prints he made in his San Francisco studio, in order for the prints to dry before he could add more colors. But for the first time, on that camping trip with my father, mother, and older brother, I watched him draw from life, and the pencil and ink drawings he made of “my” pony graced every home I had throughout the years until they were lost in the crash of a moving van. But art—lost and found—was always with me. And long after that trip to Yosemite, after I had left my work as a catalog librarian, I formed a company to produce instructional videos for children. Our first productions were six videos of art instruction for children.
For some us, a favorite winter rather than summer vacation comes to mind. This is especially true if the temperature outside feels more like summertime. Dale Gausman, Founder of http://www.montessori-namta.org/ North American Montessori Teachers’ Association shares just such a vacation.
My grandmother took my sister and me on our first vacation when I was in grade three. She invited us to go with her to visit my aunt in Los Angeles for two weeks over the Christmas holidays. It felt like an adventure to take the train for two days, and I was excited to leave behind Vancouver’s rain for the California sun.
I don’t remember much about the journey itself. I am sure that I watched towns flickering past us through the window; the occasional cow or horse standing in the fields; and the rugged coastline coming back into view as we reached California. But as a young growing boy, my interest laid primarily in food, and that is what I remember when I think of our train ride.
My grandmother brought all of our food for the two-day train trip in a small suitcase. There were no hot meals or sweet treats from the dining car. Instead, when we were hungry, my grandmother would pull out the suitcase, pop open the latch, and hand out the carefully wrapped meals that she had prepared. The only deviation from her suitcase was on our last day, when she bought us a can of hot tomato soup from a vending machine. I still remember the warm, homey aroma of that soup and how delicious it was.
Staying in Los Angeles, we naturally made a day trip to Disneyland, and my sister and I had a fantastic time. My favourite ride was, without question, the go carts. As an 8-year-old boy, it was amazing to me to be able to whizz round the corners and hammer down the straightaways at top speed. It was definitely a highlight of my trip.
Another highlight, and one that has made a lasting impression on me, was listening to my aunt read to us all every evening. She chose to read us The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. If an experience was memorable to you as a child, it is likely to be just as memorable to other children. I learned from my aunt and read the same book to my son when he was 8 years old. I believe he was just as enthralled as I was.
Elaine Murphy, http://kimboed.com/ Kimbo Educational reflects on a summer vacation filled with experiential experiences.
I spent one glorious summer at a day camp called “Candy Mountain” when I was just 10 years old. Of course, we campers sang that fun song over and over, but we never tired of it. I learned so much that summer. The “candy” was really an opportunity to gain some independence, grow creatively, get stronger physically and make new friends. I had never been away from home, even for the daytime hours, and I was shy and a bookworm. My parents didn’t ask, they just sent me and said have a good time! I didn’t know any other children and I would rather have read my books curled up on my front porch. I changed that summer and came to realize that there was a big world out there that I wanted to be a part of. I could do it, and I learned to love life to its fullest. It was a set of experiential lessons about nature, art, planting, sharing and caring for our environment, teamwork and more. It was not just a vacation. My parents got more than their money’s worth by investing in me that summer.
Nan Barchowsky, Founder of http://www.bfhhandwriting.com/ Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting shows us how gardening can help children develop small hand muscles, as she looks back upon her own special childhood summers spent with her grandmother.
When I was a little girl I spent my summers at my grandmother’s home. She had a garden and grew beautiful flowers. I loved Nanny, my grandmother, very much, but when it came to her garden she was strict. I wanted to be with her in her garden, and I wanted to help. I thought I could pull some weeds, but she disagreed! Not in my garden she said! She feared I would pull up her flowers. How was I to know the difference between a valued plant and a weed?
There was a solution! Nanny measured off a small space in the garden that was all mine. She suggested some flowers, and we agreed on Johnny-jump-ups and English daisies. I planted them; they grew. Weeds grew too, and I gently pulled them out so that I would not disturb the flowers. I could be with Nanny and have fun in my very own garden at the same time.
Gari Stein, Fonder of http://www.little-folks-music.com/ Music for Little Folks, reflects on the summers she spent at Camp Arowhon and the lasting friendships she made at camp.
I was extremely fortunate, for many summers to go to Camp Arowhon, in Algonquin Park Canada, nestled in a pristine wooded environment surrounded by water. Once we traveled by train, plane or bus, hearts beating with anticipation, we excitedly entered camp in shifts on the camp boat fondly called the ‘Lizzie”. Children coming together in friendship and fellowship that for me spanned from a junior camper to a senior counselor.
Tomorrow, we will be focusing, in more depth, on the impact that travel, arts and crafts, local resources, science and nature can have on planning your own summer activities and adventures. Stayed tuned for Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories – Part II