by Rebekah Bennetch, Saskatoon Secular Families (Saskatchewan, Canada)
Hello to all readers and parents beyond belief! I’m writing all the way from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (if you can’t picture where this fits on the Canadian landscape, think north of North Dakota). My name is Rebekah, and I’m the mama to Emmalee, a three-and-a-half year old who is growing up much too fast.
I started the Saskatoon Secular Family Network up here about a year or so ago. I’m excited to be a part of this PBB blog! I’m hoping it will be a good chance for us all to share resources, ideas, and even the few frustrations we encounter as we work in our family-friendly groups.
The most successful event/activity our group has had so far was our first-annual Freethinker Family Camp that we entitled “Camp Hoodoo” (named after the nearby rural municipality of Hoodoo, SK). We wanted to have a camp that would be along the same lines of Camp Quest and Camp Inquiry. Saskatchewan has plenty of summer religious/Bible camp options for families but there aren’t many secular alternatives. My main motivation in running the weekend camp was to provide an equivalent fun summer activity for kids — but minus the altar calls and guilt-inducing indoctrinations so often attached to many religious camps. A member of the Saskatoon Freethinkers offered his acreage for our campsite location, and with the help of several volunteers, Camp Hoodoo came into being!
The emphasis of our weekend camping trip was to enjoy and explore our natural surroundings and learn a little bit of science, too. We didn’t really talk too much about anything religious (or irreligious) during the weekend trip, as most of our focus was on having a good time playing outside! Here are a few of the activities we had the kids do:
We first went on a nature scavenger hunt. The list we gave the kids had three sections on it: a list of things to collect, a list of items for them to feel, and then another list of things to watch for.
Another fun part of our weekend was a visit from an entomologist. He brought with him a preserved hornet’s nest, and sat down with the kids to show them the various compartments of the hive and also explained the functions of its different members (from queen to worker). After that, he took the kids out to a nearby slough and had the kids collect samples of water to examine for aquatic life. It’s one thing to learn about nature in a book, it’s another to be exploring it, hands-on!
Other activities we did over the weekend included an “earth-weaving” craft (made from materials collected from the scavenger hunt); star-gazing (thanks to our rural location, we could look up in the night sky and see the Milky Way!); we made a non-Newtonian fluid called oobleck (made from corn starch & water); and consumed lots and lots of s’mores.
That said, some of the best times at Camp Hoodoo were found in the unscheduled moments around the campsites, when the kids could play together and we parents could casually chat. It was these conversations and moments of laughter that really stand out as some of the best parts of the weekend.
(for more pictures of what we did at Camp Hoodoo, check out my Flickr set of photos)
What does YOUR group do? Share in the PBB Forums or in the comments below