venture outside they have fears that are created by previous experiences, society, friends, television or the imagination. At the Outdoor Learning Center there are thousands of visitors and each of them has their own fears, experiences and tolerances while being outside. Maybe the frigid weather and wind we are experiencing is something you do not enjoy, or maybe the cold gives you a sense of security concerning the wildlife and insect activity.
Whatever your experience was in the past, or maybe your preconceived notions of what lay ahead, dictates how you react in nature.
Mother Nature is a thing of beauty, she can make us surrender all from a mountain top and hold us hostage to the very depths of our fears in an ocean blue. But no matter where you go nature can truly take your breath away if you choose. In the past three years I have learned that enjoying nature can be a choice. I grew up on a large ranch in East Texas, behind the pine curtain, with few neighbors and no stores nearby. The hill in which my home sat, served-up some of the best sunrises and sunsets amongst the trees while green costal fields dotted with black cattle painted a picture of serenity. I took that view for granted for 18 years of my life while living on the ranch. Now I see things through the eyes of the OLC visitors.
Although I was exposed to the outdoors a great deal growing up, I have always feared snakes and did not enjoy wasp or scorpions. Being immersed in an area where I may encounter those things has taught me so much about how I control my fears and it is up to me to make the best of each day. I remember the anxiety I experienced at the unknown of what I would encounter on a summer day at the OLC. Now, three years and many experiences later, I do not shy away for what I may come across. Instincts and education have taken me to a new place in my mind and allowed me to work through any fears I may have.
Students' excitement for the day was palatable. Teachers who had anxiety about taking on the challenges of the outdoors, were so focused on their jobs with the students that they really didn't have time to dwell on their fears, even though I am sure they were present. Parents were so absorbed in their children's joy of being in this type of setting and so appreciative of the districts commitment to preserving such a precious piece of land, that they did not revert back to the early questions of wildlife and weather. Truly it was a special day where students embraced the natural setting. Learning, togetherness, enjoyment all of it was experienced outside.
Fears come in all different packages; our fear of failure, finishing, acceptance and success. I wonder if our fears in certain aspects of education could be overcome by repeated exposure to those things we fear most? Could we get to a place where our anxiety of something can be undone by instinct and education?
Henry David Thoreau wrote: I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.
Each step you take, may you take them with a conscious endeavor in mind and seek the things you wish to find. Work through your fears, and maybe you will experience something that will elevate your life.
Have a great weekend!
Outdoor Learning Center Coordinator