Bernheim’s Ambassador Kenyetta Johnson recently collaborated with the Earth & Spirit Center (ESC) in Louisville, Ky. to expand free play opportunities beyond Bernheim’s borders. With support and resources from Bernheim’s Children at Play Network, coupled with Earth and Spirit Center’s determination to create the best camp experience for their youth, the SpiritScape was born!
Last year, the ESC Executive Director Kyle Kramer and the Program Manager/Retreat Director Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp visited Bernheim’s Spirit Nest and the Playcosystem and decided to create something similar at the Earth & Spirit Center. Children at Play Network Director Claude Stephens visited the ESC site to discuss what their natural play space might look like.
This summer ESC carved out time during their Camp Odyssey for unstructured play at their SpiritScape. After the first two weeks of facilitating play and learning from the campers, the ESC shared the impact of free play within their camp community. A big shout out goes to Hadorn-Disselkamp, and Bernheim’s Children at Play Network Director Claude Stephens, for continuously working to ensure that youth can explore free play!
Here are a few comments from staff at the Earth and Spirit Center:
“Children are hardwired for creative free play and for connection with the natural world, and yet they often are put in situations – school, camps, extra-curricular activities – that are overly structured and that take place indoors or otherwise apart from nature.”
“Camp Odyssey started 15 years ago. The camp was created to enhance children’s relationship with the Earth, learning about nature, eating from the garden, hiking on the land, meditating, and playing games together.”
“Within this [new] structured time of hands-on learning, I feel it is extremely important for the campers to have time to just play without structure. They have over an hour to create, invent, play, and imagine. The campers enjoy this time. I believe it adds to their experience of the camp.”
“Bernheim and the Playcosystem were the inspiration for our additional camps.”
“We were so impressed that we brainstormed ideas of how to bring such innovations to the Earth and Spirit Center.”
“The SpiritScape will serve our growing camp programs, youth and adult retreats, outdoor concerts, and many other events, all of which will invite participants to experience the natural world in a creative, playful, and meaningful way.”