Inspiration from nature — art program wraps up, more coming

Experts say outdoor immersion programs, like the ones at Nature’s Backpack in Rollingdam, help kids hone language acquisition, increase their reading and writing skills and ability to think critically, and make them more aware of nature. (Submitted)

ROLLINGDAM — A local organization is nearing the end of a program to use nature to inspire art and starting other programs this spring and summer.

Serving communities around the region, Nature’s Backpack is a “nature learning centre.” Rhonda Sage, executive director and founder of Nature’s Backpack, wrote in an email that the weekly Earth Art and Sound program, started on Jan. 14, is now complete.

“The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing how their children have blossomed in confidence and independence after just three sessions,” she said. “It’s a testament to the power of combining nature, music, and art to nurture the well-being of our young participants.”

Music therapist Nicolas Scott and nature artist Avril Bull-Jones instructed.

In one part of the program with Scott, kids ventured outdoors for sensory-based activities to inspire them to create music, Sage noted. Bull-Jones then asked participants to make art interpreting what they see in nature, explained Sage.

Participants can use their imaginations and creativity, while being immersed in nature, Sage said, noting this improves cognitive, sensory and emotional development. Adding there are the few outdoor immersion programs in Charlotte County, Sage sees them as complementary to the education system, helping kids hone language acquisition, increase their reading and writing skills, and ability to think critically, and make them more aware of nature.

The Earth Art and Sound program uses a “Pay What You Can” model to help students who may not be able to afford an extracurricular activity, Sage said, explaining that on a sliding scale, people can pay “from zero to $125 per month.”

In addition to the Earth and Sound program, Nature’s Backpack is offering a March Break Camp and a pancake breakfast on March 10.

Sage wrote that they offer a forest school called Wild Wee Ones for three- to five-year-olds, where kids learn and play outdoors to foster a connection with nature. For kids up to age three, there’s the Oaks and Acorns program from September to December, with lots of nature-based activities and parent-child bonding.

Running from September to December, the Earth Works program allows kids from six to 12 years to explore the outdoors and learn essential outdoor skills while developing relationships with the land, added Sage.

Meanwhile, they’re looking for “enthusiastic individuals” to lead and support their summer programs for ages six to 12 and “service-minded” residents to join their board of directors, Sage said. Learn more.

Jake Boudrot

A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and a resident of Arichat, Jake Boudrot is an award-winning journalist with decades of experience as a freelancer, reporter and editor representing media outlets across the Maritimes.