Edmonds Kind of Play: Outdoor camps, plus have your say on arts and culture programs for families

Quiet Heart Wilderness School camp.

I recently dropped off my son (oldest child, first born, my baby), now a tween, for “outdoor school” which is a sleep-away camp through his school in the Edmonds School District. In doing so, I learned some things and no, it’s not that sending your kid away to live in a bunk with 6 or so boys would be nerve-wracking, because truth is, I find most things nerve-wracking. I learned that those who were dropping off their second or third child for outdoor school weren’t as nervous as I was.  Almost universally, other people would respond to my worry with “oh… he’ll be fine,” and that a lot of people go camping – which is good for us because we needed to borrow gear.

It’s not that we don’t do stuff outside, our very short summer vacation revolved around an exciting and relaxing afternoon floating down a river in inner tubes and my main (ok, only) form of exercise involves trekking through Yost Park, it’s just that after being on a hike or a river float, I want to sleep in my own bed. After the camp drop off, I felt self conscious about my camping preferences, which my sister refers to as “Troop Beverly Hills.” What if I was sending “Troop Beverly Hills Jr.” to the great outdoors unprepared?!? Then I remembered, I have picked him up wet, dirty, sandy, and happy from SO many Ranger Naturalist programs through Edmonds Parks and Recreation and regardless of his sleeping preferences, which I’m guessing mirror mine, mucking around outside is something he’s plenty proficient in. The great news is Edmonds not only has Ranger Naturalist Programs year-round, including one for next Friday’s non-student day, but also programs at Yost Park through Quiet Heart Wilderness School.

Before I get to the outdoor options in Edmonds, I want to mention a quick way that you can give feedback on the “arts and culture” options in Edmonds. Frances Chapin, Arts & Culture Manager in Edmonds, told me that this survey will take you “ two minutes, max” and will enter you into a drawing for tickets to the Edmonds Theater, Cascadia Art Museum, The Driftwood Players and more! This economic impact study will help the city “better understand the role of arts in our community and shape the future of Edmonds!” They believe it is important to “hear from families of students of all levels” as they figure out how residents and visitors alike utilize arts and culture in Edmonds and the economic impact it has on our city. The questions are easy and quick -it took me less than two minutes, but to be fair, Chapin and I discussed the questions ahead of time- and you can find the survey HERE. Chapin says they are looking for responses by Oct. 24. Additionally, if you’d like to “share a personal story or comment about the arts in Edmonds” you can do so, HERE.

Since Chapin and I discussed the program that I am going to share this week — The Owls of Edmonds day camp — she told me there would be some owl-related art from Andrea Gabriel, and illustrator from Bellingham, as campers enter the Frances Anderson Center. The non-student day camp, The Owls of Edmonds, held on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the exact kind of Ranger Naturalist/Discovery program I was talking about.

Part of this day camp for children between 6 and 12, involves walking to “local park to explore one of our resident owl habitats,” as they learn about the “multiple species of owls in Edmonds.” Campers will also “explore the different adaptations owls have” through games and crafts” and dissect an owl pellet which is always a huge hit. The contents of a backpack after a day camp like this is always a marriage of REI and Michael’s; dirty socks, field journal, crafty item, handouts on the day’s subject, something like a rock or a stick that usually gets found in the dryer, and hopefully their water bottle. Debbie Johnson at Edmonds Parks and Recreation assured me there is space left! You can register by calling 425-771-0230 or my visiting RecZone.org.

On my Mom walk, which I think I talk about more than I actually do, I see a lot of Edmonds staples, especially once we re-routed through Yost and down Main Street. We see the Mayor, the fountain, we pop into Frances Anderson Center and say “Hi” to Debbie while getting water, and in summer, we see the Quiet Heart campers all through Yost. Quiet Heart Wilderness School is something we learned about when “Hawkeye,” otherwise known as Allan Sande, came to my youngest son’s preschool. Hawkeye, pronounced “Hot Guy” by my then 4 year old, is a local celebrity, and if you’ve seen him out and about in his wilderness friendly attire, you will also see a little kid who can’t believe they’ve run into him.

I just got an email this week from Quiet Heart explaining that they are starting a new workshop for younger naturalists ages 3-and-a-half to 5 held on Sunday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at Yost Park. Wild Snacks and Animal Tracks will have kids following clues animals have left behind in the woods and they become “nature detectives.” They build shelters, play games, collect fall leaves, or just follow their “curiosity.” They “guarantee that your child will go home smiling, tired, and dirty.” Parents are invited to come along, but should definitely bring their boots! You can visit QuietHeart.org for more details or to register for one or both days of this preschool age workshop. Once there, definitely check out all of their incredible options, which are year-round, for outdoor classes in Edmonds.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese”

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