An outdoor early-childhood recreational program in
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Let the children play, and let them play in the richest classroom of all!
We are currently on break due to the pandemic, but we typically serve children ages 3-6 two mornings per week at Ivy Creek Natural Area in the fall and spring, along with week-long summer camps and professional consultation services.
We are proud to partner with Ivy Creek Foundation, Albemarle County Parks & Recreation,
At Blue Ridge Forest School, we support the young child's full developmental needs: physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and nature-connection. According to best practices in early childhood education, children need abundant and regular opportunities to move freely outdoors, fill their senses, study natural laws, experiment using open-ended materials, problem-solve, take initiative, collaborate, use their imagination, and develop social skills through child-led play and exploration. Being a part of a consistent community of mixed-aged children in an outdoor setting, facilitated by responsive, highly-qualified adult guides, allows for this whole-child development to occur at this critical period in a person's life. The results are empowered, active learners, rather than passive consumers of information. The results are relaxed and joyful children that take care of each other and the world around them.
Children with these nature-rich, playful, child-centered experiences learn to manage risks, have better critical-thinking skills, are more relaxed, have better focus, better social skills, and have healthier, more neurologically-integrated bodies (visit the "Resources" section for links to this research).
Becoming connected to a natural place during childhood--to intimately experience it change week by week, season by season--will provide gifts of skill, wisdom, and a profound sense connection and wonder that will last a lifetime. These consistent, quality outdoor experiences are often difficult to provide within the framework of our modern lifestyle. It is such a privilege to be able to help Charlottesville's families meet this need!
"I believe forest camp has visibly improved our child’s physical, emotional and social well-being. Spending time in nature under the thoughtful, nurturing guidance of Jessica has been a game-changer for our sensitive child. When I pick him up from camp, he’s happy and confident, carrying a joy with him through the rest of the day. We feel so fortunate to be a part of this amazing program."