Camp Joy Kids Program & Homeschooling, by Poppy Nelson

May 2020

My life started as a being who felt everything. I still can. I am very sensitive to other’s energy. This can make it tiring to be around a lot of people because of how I experience their energy in my body, which is hard to explain unless this happens to you. This is one reason I homeschool. The other is so I am able to live in the moment and go where I feel called. Having the freedom to take new adventures, especially with horses. My mom calls this “experiential learning”, she wanted me to be able to learn my way and at my own pace. I am grateful for that. Have you ever considered what it would be like to be homeschooled?

When I was about 3 years old I started spending time with horses and more time on my family’s farm Camp Joy Gardens. Both have helped me learn how to stay grounded, being able to slow down in nature. Staying grounded is not always easy but it is important. I find myself changing who I am to create armor around myself, this is not a healthy habit. Right now this is what I am working on, remembering to breathe, taking a long deep breath because being who I am is more important than feeling a part of the group. I find doing this is the hardest when I am with friends and family. My sense of why I do this is to feel somewhat ‘normal’.  Actually when I consider this more, it feels like I’m shutting down, which I learn about during my time with horses.  When something doesn’t feel good we can listen and respond another way. Some of my first friendships were made in a group Camp Joy Kids, a program for children 3-5 that my mom started. It’s focus was on being ourselves, together in the garden. There were many fun times. One that stands out was making goat milk honey ice cream and tamales. The hardest thing was sharing my mom. I am very good about sharing my treasures but I was not super keen on sharing my most special, my mom. The garden is one of my grounding places, just being in nature is an amazing gift. In my opinion if more people did our world would be so different. I imagine different choices being made and there would be less hurt.

Horses have been a huge part of my life. I enjoy them more than people. Someone once asked me why I want to be with horses. It took me a long time to know the answer. I am with horses to listen. Horses have a way of reflecting what we need to see. Sometimes it is hard to be shown what we need to work on. One of my first equine friends was Cookie, a sweet and spunky little pony. She taught me many things, the most important being patient. At first I wanted to just throw my hands in the air and walk away. Lucky for me I had a mom who would not let me give up. I am grateful now that she encouraged me to stick with it, because when I let go of my agenda I had an even more amazing experience than if I had just got on the horse. Horses, like people, have a yes and a no. If we are willing to ask we also need to listen to the answer, really listen. Silver is my unicorn friend, who is so full of love. He was the opposite of Cookie, willing to do almost anything because he loved me. Even if it hurt him. I learned from Silver the true meaning of love. He taught me that love flows easily when we spend more time in our body’s than in our minds. You need to love yourself to really be able to love in a healthy way. When I am with Silver I feel calm, connected and like there is an invisible string between our hearts. Silver and I have a bond that I have not felt before, a sense of understanding without the need of words. I am grateful. These horses have been true friends and help me to be a true friend.

When I was younger I had a more adventurous spirit and was open to new things.  I joined NBOG, Nature Based On Going,  an outdoor program when I was 6 years old. We learned to track animals, what plants healed or caused sickness and kept field guides of our adventures. This inspired my desire to become a holistic veterinarian, who collects herbs and remedies from my own area. Then I joined the SLV Charter program Fall Creek Homeschool, my first school-like experience.  I enjoyed going for nature walks and touring the high school greenhouses, seeing a different way of gardening than I had seen. They have fish underneath the beds to fertilize the plants that grow there. Something that was hard, was my relationship with my teacher. Her teaching methods were different. To me instead of encouraging me she brought me down. I decided I was no good at art because she said my bird looked like a “decapitated tree stump” and I stopped doing art which is sad because I really enjoyed art a lot. I don’t know why I let her put me down. I have learned that it is hard for me to stand up for myself, especially with adults. The next year I joined Santa Cruz Mountain Learning Collective (SCMLC), a program organized by parents and Quail Hollow Homeschool (QHH), also in the SLV Charter. At SCMLC we did many science experiments that even if they did go as planned they were still fun. I also learned about my love of running. At QHH we built an Egyptian hut. Seeing culture other than my own was really interesting and actually building something with my own hands was amazing. Another thing I enjoyed was the all charter plays. I was in three: The Jungle Book, Under the Boardwalk and Cinder-Idol. I stayed with these two programs for 3rd and 4th grade.

When we moved that summer to Bonny Doon and I considered the elementary school there but decided on Pacific Elementary School’s Independent Studies, a parent coop program in Davenport. I only went there for 2 months. It turned out not to be the place for me. I felt like I was not able to be my true self and  learn at my own pace. These two things are important to me.  I really enjoyed Food Lab, on Mondays my class made food for the whole school!  It was an amazing experience to learn and grow in the kitchen, learning new skills making food I would have not made at home. Ever since then I have been in the School of Life, learning independently. There have been some up’s and down’s but I have made many breakthroughs. Some in math and In my own self. Reconnecting with myself and my momma. My relationships with friends is somewhat harder because many people make friends through school and I don’t feel inspired to spend time with old friends as much. I am glad I have horses because they are very amazing friends. I am looking forward to having new relationships in the near future. I am very excited about a new project on fungi and mushrooms. Something I want to start is my own herbal field guide for remedies and other stuff that is edible for this area and I want to have a section on mushrooms and fungi.

Here is a poem that I wrote about homeschooling:

All around where grass grows green we run and dance in one green hug. Horses and ponies run and dance to.
Clear minded children just like you know the way to staying clear in a cloudy world. 
After reading this paper does this sound like something you would enjoy?
I hope I have inspired you in some way. May your days be full of JOY!  Thank You!

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