The recent school holidays were enjoyed by a fortunate group of kids in a way which is now somewhat unusual. The foundation of the Conscious Kids program is free play in a natural setting, with as little assistance as possible from equipment and technology. It offers a chance for children to play as they like, for as long as they like, within a framework of respect for those around them and the environment - an antidote to the fast-paced technology-filled world many children now inhabit.
Programs go ahead in all weather; rain brings exciting opportunities for play and exploration, and of course shelter building! Conscious Kids follow the maxim "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
Blockhouse Bay Reserve is a hidden wonderland for children, waiting to be explored. It offers opportunities to explore tide pools and discover secret coves on the beach, and then to build huts and climb trees in secluded bush tucked up on the hill. Children play like previous generations in Auckland did; away from screens and schedules, exploring and appreciating the natural beauty of their surroundings.
Kate Webber, a mum of three boys and also a teacher, runs Conscious Kids in Blockhouse Bay. “These holidays completely blew me away,” says Kate. “Kids would arrive and not really know what we were going to do, and they would have these huge bags with about three changes of clothes. But after just 5 minutes outside, shoes would be caked in mud and squeals could be heard when crabs, prawns and small fish were discovered under rocks. By midday we'd all be in our second change of clothes, making huts, booby traps, doing tightrope walking between trees or trying to light fires with magnifying glasses.”
“Constantly kids would say 'this is the best day ever, I'm coming back tomorrow,' she says.
Kate goes on to comment, “it just blows me away that it’s such a simple idea, getting kids outside exploring, getting muddy, taking a few risks, but they love it. It's like every day they were on some exotic new planet realising how fabulous it was. I felt pretty lucky working there!”
Conscious Kids also run a One Day Nature Programme every Wednesday at Blockhouse Bay for school aged kids, if you want your kid to have a day playing in the trees. See their website for more information www.consciouskids.co.nz