Friday, August 22, 2014

Kids Art and Nature Camp- Garden Camp

Campers holding up their garden inspired banners
Chickens, snap peas and bunnies, oh my! We finished the last art and nature camp this past week at the North Cascades Basecamp, entitled Garden Camp. We had 13 kids join instructors Deirdre Cassidy, Kim Romain-Bondi and Raechel Youngberg. Our week kicked off with in-depth exploration of vegetable plants in the beautiful Basecamp garden. 

Amelia works on her carrot banner
Each kid completed a series of sketches in the garden focused on the garden plants and pollinators. The kids then drew a picture inspired by the garden, which they transformed into brightly colored garden banners. 
The wonderful intersection of art and nature did not end there. The kids used big luscious cabbage leaves gathered from the garden as a template for creating concrete birdbaths. The cabbage leaves left beautiful and intricate impressions onto the concrete. These birdbaths will be a wonderful addition to all the kids' home gardens or yards.
An unpainted birdbath
Later campers furthered their knowledge of garden plants while we practiced saving seeds. We smelled the calendula flowers while learning that it can be made into a salve to help treat rashes, as well as cuts and scrapes. We tasted spicy mizuna, a Japanese mustard green, that is a great addition to any salad. We crushed coriander pods in-between our fingers while inhaling its pungent aroma. The last seed we collected was swiss chard, a bright dark leafy green that can be transformed into a variety of dishes. 
Campers saving seeds
We also had the chance to hold baby chicks that have hatched in the garden within the last couple of weeks. It was a great opportunity for both human and feathered friends to become socialized with each other. We all enjoyed assisting the chicks with their perching practice by placing them on our shoulders and sometimes heads!
Emmet with his favorite chick, Pineapple.

Nichola with a perching chick

Lily familiarizing with chicks and their little sharp nails
We finished the week creating colorful designs with rocks, twigs, weeds, and other natural materials down near the river. Our designs were inspired by Andy Goldberg, an artist famous for transforming natural materials into awe-inspiring works of art. 
Evan showing off his mullenweed design 
Lilliana working on her concentric rock design
All in all we had a wonderful week here at the Basecamp exploring the garden, river, artistic endeavors, and friendships.   

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kids Nature and Art Camp- Flowers, Plants, Leaves and Trees

Campers with their finished mosaics
We had a beautiful botanical adventure-filled week at the North Cascades Basecamp with Native Flowers, Plants, Leaves and Trees Camp led by Deirdre Cassidy, Kim Romain-Bondi and Raechel Youngberg. The rain may have filled the sky for the better part of the week but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits!  We warmed up our creative juices with fun drawing classes led by Deirdre and Kim, and practiced our blind contour drawing with flowers and then faces to hilarious results.
Jessie with her blind contour drawing of her sister

We ventured outside for some fun in the Native Plant Restoration Garden where we completed a scavenger hunt to identify each plant and their medicinal/ethnobotany facts.  We also examined and sketched native flowers and leaves. 
Examining flowers for botanical illustrations
These flowers and leaves then became inspiration for individual mosaics,
Freya adds grout
which were the perfect art project for this week as they allowed us to stay dry inside the classroom, but with the barn doors opened up for fresh summer air.  The kids worked from designing their mosaic, to applying glass, grout, and finally wiping the whole thing clean for beautiful and colorful trivets to take home with them! 

Campers cleaning up their mosaic creations
The soggy weather didn’t stop us from playing camp games, climbing the play structure, or taking a stroll down to the river to look at rocks in the calm river bed.   What a fantastic group of campers and a great week of art and nature!
Freetime on the Basecamp play-structure
Happy campers outside during a sunburst

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kids Art and Nature Camp- Habitat Habitat!

We just finished our first Art and Nature Camp at the North Cascades Basecamp, titled Habitat, Habitat, Habitat.  We had 12 kids join Deirdre Cassidy, Kim Romain-Bondi, and Raechel Youngberg for a great week.  We started our week with nature walks and discussions of habitat, and native wildlife's adaptations to to live in Methow Valley.  Our sketch books came in handy as recorded our observations and created imaginary creatures with a random variety of adaptations, such as long claws, a shadow tail, big ears, round body, and a nut-cracking bill. The kids created incredible paper mache animals based on what we had learned, some with realistic features in the end, and others with folk art colors of their imagination.  Games in the grass and a fair amount of waterplay kept the days fun and cool.   The photo below shows our floating habitat we found in the swimming pond, where we identified 7 species of insects or animals that were using it.  We can't wait for next weeks camp- Native Plants, Trees, Flowers, and Leaves.
Raechel's lesson about how snakes are adapted to different habitats

Busy children were amazingly focused as they started their paper mache animals

Folk art color creations on Nella's snake
Kelley fox is ready for paint
Payten adds detail to her kingfisher masterpiece


Floating habitat in the swimming pond


Homemade Apricot Honey Fruit Leather

The Basecamp has been swimming in ripe fruit lately due to our CSA's from Smallwood Harvest Farm. We decided to make a couple of different types of fruit leather the other night but the recipe we will feature is for apricot fruit leather. Homemade fruit leather is an excellent way to use up overly ripe fruit and tastes absolutely amazing any time of the year.

Homemade Apricot Honey Fruit Leather 
For our fruit leather we used a dehydrator but you can easily adjust this recipe to be baked in an oven. Yield: 2 plates fruit leather-about 10 fruit roll ups

8 cups organic ripe apricots
1/2 cup homemade grape juice (you can substitute 1 cup water if necessary)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup organic white sugar 1/2 cup fresh organic honey

1.) Cut apricots in half and remove the pits
2.) Combine apricots, sugar, honey, grape juice, and lime juice in a large sauce pan and place over medium-low heat.
3.) Continuously stir and mash the apricot mixture for 20-30 minutes while it remains on medium-low heat.
4.) Blend mixture in a stand blender until smooth.
5.) Line dehydrator plates with parchment paper
6.) Pour mixture onto lined dehydrator plates, ensure that the mixture spreads evenly over the plates or else dehydrating time will vary between sections.
7.) Dehydrate at 150 degrees F for around around12 hours.

The finished product waiting to be cut up! 
Yum! Fresh apricots and finished fruit leather!