Lemon balm, lemon balm, I love lemon balm. It cheers me up when I am sad, and helps me get to sleep. (repeat) (Sing to the tune of Jingle Bells)
This was just one original song created to bring the magic of herbs to 19 children at garden camp this year. The Garden Guardians Camp theme was the Magic of Herbs for the week of July 17-21. The staff developed various activities related to this theme which utilized the children’s five senses and made for lots of fun learning!
The children took daily nature walks and enjoyed the beautiful Albuquerque Garden Center grounds. Using their nature journals, the children observed, listened, sketched, and recorded what they saw and were learning about. Benefitting from the expertise of herbalist Dianne Rand, the children learned about the many benefits of common and native herbs.
On the first day of camp, we traced the outline of each camper’s body on paper. Then throughout the week, the campers were given pictures of appropriate body parts (heart, skin, lungs, etc.) and of the herbs which promoted the health and well-being of that body part. These pictures were then attached to each child’s body picture. Snacks throughout the week related to the theme of herbs. The children tasted various herbs, ate edible flowers, made energy bites, and sampled numerous herbal iced teas.
There were many craft activities throughout the week too. Children used herbs, feathers, and other natural materials to weave into looms. Sun catchers were created using dried flower petals and leaves. The children also made dream pillows by filling cloth bags with lavender, rose petals, and other herbs, then sewing the opening of the pillow closed. They were encouraged to put their dream pillow under their bed pillow (or near their nose) at night. Many children reported having wonderful dreams the next day.
Another favorite activity of camp was making hillside fairy houses. The children used pieces of bark, sticks, rocks and other natural materials to create these fairy houses. Children decorated flower pots and planted herbs in these, which they took home. Mary Green taught us about vermiculture and gave each child a cup with soil and worms to take home.
It was a very hot week! Camp would not have been complete without lots of fun, outside games involving getting wet! The children played with squirt bottles, water balloons, buckets and sponges to have fun and cool off. They tried their skills in an obstacle course which also included getting wet. There was lots of laughter and heat relief.
The week concluded on Friday afternoon with a special event for the campers and their families. We mapped out a garden tour so the campers could show their families the fairy gardens they created and the herbs and other plants they learned about. Along the tour, they searched for hidden garden gnomes and a special gift (a child's garden trowel) for each camper. Inside, everyone was served delicious herb cookies and snacks and yummy herbal iced teas. After certificates were given out and more songs were sung, camp was over for another year. It was a success!
Camp could not happen without broad support from many sources, from special speakers to plant donations to monetary donations ...too many to mention! Thank you one and all! Of course, a HUGE thank you to the many volunteers that shared their talents and literally their sweat equity to make it a wonderful experience for the children!