It is a rainy day. A proper “you will get soaking wet in one minute - remember your rain coat” type of day. The forest is greener than ever, and the usually calm creek is now a wide stream, bringing big fallen trees down to the spot the kids usually are allowed to throw their rocks in. The day is full of opportunities and for the kids I am meeting today, a day full of adventures awaits.
Today I am playing with Wildlings Forest school, with a group of three to five year old kids. They are looking at us curiously wondering what this day may bring. Looking up at the trees, commenting on how big they are. Some are already worrying about what their mums will say about the wet jumper. Most of them are excited to go over to the site where they can get wet and play in the mud. They don’t care about the rain. Kids are intrigued by nature and what grows in it - they want to explore, build cabins and cook with the chocolate brown muddy water. There’s no such a thing as bad weather. The excitement grows even more when they discover the wet hill, and they magically turn it into a slide.
Through this day I jump in puddles and make fantastic chocolate soups. I meet a boy who is determined not to get his shirt dirty (because his mum wouldn’t like him to get his shirt dirty two days in one week) but ends up trying the mud slide after all - and the smile after speaks more than words. Another muddy little boy is running around in the brown water and I comment: “you are getting clean now!”. He looks surprised at me, before he starts splashing with the water “I don’t want to be clean, I want to be muddy!” I can see him run to the top of the mudslide and at the end of the day I can see his eyes, but the rest of the body is basically camouflage coloured.
I have been with the kids in the bush on sunny days as well. They know each other. The wildlings. Running around, inviting the other kids they meet to join in, “why not come over to the possum tree?” And they will climb with curiosity and respect for the possum, in the tree where the possum apparently lives. They will try and fail, and they laugh. How much they laugh!
They are curious. They are restless, they are active and they are happy. What more can you ask for? They have good friends they can run around and play with, and at the end of the day they have learnt to love our natural environment just by spending time out in it. That’s what I believe is the start of caring about and protect it. It all starts with love. That’s at least how it has always worked for me.