Notes From The Field Blog
Sleeping on the Floor of the Lodge
It has been an annual tradition at Look About Lodge for at least 10 years now to have a family overnight on the Sunday night before Martin Luther King Day. This year was no different.
Well, there are a few differences:
- Families can now register on-line for Cleveland Metroparks programs. I’m pretty sure this is the first year we’ve been able to offer that service to participants – it makes the process easier for most.
- When we send information home to the adults about what to bring and what not to bring, we remind parents to limit time on their phones and take this opportunity to enjoy the time with their families. When I started overnights, we had to remind the adults not to spend most of their time socializing with each other. Today, technology offers an opportunity to socialize with people remotely; an opportunity we sometimes have to ask for people to resist. In general, spending time together is the plan of people attending, but distractions are different today than they were 10 years ago.
- I’ve also noticed that when I started these overnights, almost no one brought a sleeping pad or inflatable mattresses to sleep on. Now almost everyone does. I don’t have any interpretation about what this says about people today versus a few years ago, but it’s a change.
We have kept many things about the Look About Lodge Winter Overnight the same, year after year:
- We offer many activities for participants to choose from: crafts, s’more making, games, books and building blocks.
- Kids LOVE building blocks. Even not-so-young children. The blocks we offer are made from sections of tree branches. Several handmade wooden animals are sized perfectly to be a part of the play.
- At each of our overnights a treasured volunteer, Heidi Solomon, has taught jam making to each family. We buy frozen berries and make fresh warm fragrant strawberry jam. It smells divine. Each child takes home a jar that they’ve made and we have a couple of jars to enjoy together. To have some freshly made warm jam on a snowy January night is like connecting with the joys of summer all the while celebrating the glory of winter. The contrast of the red confection with the dinner plate sized snowflakes falling outside is a pairing I look forward to each year.
- We go out and hike. Staying out for an hour or two in the winter forest, in the night, may not seem like something we could get 20 or so parents, grandparents and kids to embrace. But, it’s a great tradition. It was an especially cold and beautiful night this year!
- After our hike, we return to the Lodge to pajama-up, roll out our sleeping bags and smear some hot jam on fresh baked biscuits. YUM!
- Then it’s storytime and lights out.
- In the morning awakening is staggered. We prepare a delicious breakfast while parents stumble in looking for coffee. We eye each other up trying to decide who was the one who snored loudly and whose kid stayed up too late whispering to the kid next to them.
There’s not much to do in the morning. Play a little. Go outside a little. Clean up and pack up. The overnight is not so much about activities at night and in the morning but about completing the night together.
I’m glad we could share this tradition with you. Maybe you’ll want to pencil in your calendar for next year: Look About Lodge Winter Overnight, Martin Luther King weekend.
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