Published by CELA on 17 Apr, 2017

This is the first of four articles by two NSW educators, Bec Carey and Sarah Hammersley, who want to share their journeys in nature and outdoor learning with our readers.

Deep within something moves, shifts and unearths. Imagination is unleashed.
A deep connection is made and the world slows down creating time to just be.
The raw and unearthed child is born.

The valley echoes with the call of young magpies to their parents, a diamond python is basking in the sun, a tree decked in gifts for the fairies stands tall and proud, the gift-bearer even prouder.

A puddle ripples after being poked first with a stick, then a finger. Giggles build as toes dip in. Laughter explodes as water splashes and play becomes a whole body experience, sitting happily in the puddle.

Trust and confidence grows as a deep dark cave begs to be explored, leeches squirm and chase us after the rain and jack jumper ants make us mindful of where we sit, where we walk and our curiosity leads us to follow their trail. The vine swing hangs in the shadows of nature’s playground, but is seen with a whole new light.

Our beloved ‘puddle rock mountain’ provides endless climbing challenges, a new perspective, view and a space to sit, dream and just be. No matter where or how we play in this magical place – Kincumba Mountain Reserve – Old Grandfather Kookaburra watches over us.

Beyond the gates of an early childhood setting is an abundance of opportunities for children to explore, investigate and discover. Children follow their rhythms and urges as they embark on journeys filled with fun and rich learning. It’s authentic. It’s real. It’s early childhood the way it should be.

It sounds like a dream (we know) but it’s our reality. We are Bec Carey and Sarah Hammersley, two Early Childhood Teachers on endless adventures in the wild. In this fast-paced world we reflect on our own childhood memories where our natural desires were fulfilled and there was time to simply ‘be’.

Collectively we have over 23 years’ experience working in early education and care settings and have worked in both educational and service leadership roles. After establishing a pilot program that took children outside the gates and into a wild space we were motivated and inspired to create more opportunities for the children and families of our local community.

We run nature play sessions for children from 18 months- 5yrs. Families enrol their children each term and attend one two-hour session per week in groups of up to 15 children. We are privileged to be able to share the land of the Darkinjung people up on Kincumba Mountain on the Central Coast, NSW. The children and their families of our community have all become connected to this amazing space and now often visit to explore on the weekends with extended family members, friends and relatives who visit from overseas.

In this series of articles for Community Child Care’s Amplify! blog we will be talking about:

  • the theory behind our program
  • how we help children and parents to feel confident and connected to nature
  • the remarkable differences that we have observed in children who participate in outdoor learning.

We’ll be sharing our journeys with you and learning from your experiences as you respond to our stories too.  Please make sure you subscribe for the blog updates so you don’t miss out – we can’t wait to get started!

Meet the authors

Bec Carey and Sarah Hammersley​

Bec Carey and Sarah Hammersley are early childhood teachers on endless adventures in nature. With 23 years’ ECEC experience between them they have created a program that takes children outside the gates and into the magical spaces of Kincumba Mountain Reserve on the NSW Central Coast.

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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