Three years ago the ECO program was introduced to the students at Twinfield Union School and at first the program seemed unusual and daunting. My first thoughts were about exposing children to the cold as it began in late fall and some days were frightfully chilly. I fretted just as much about how to keep their soup warm as I did their bodies. The packing list for warm clothes seemed just as overwhelming to remember as to afford for a family with multiple children participating. The program immediately proved itself worthy of the cost and fret.
The first day of ECO, my youngest participating child came home so excited that he could hardly sequence his thoughts in a fashion in which we could understand them. Luckily, the glow on his face spoke louder than his jumbled thoughts. The next oldest told me exciting things he was able to learn and that soon they would be learning to build a fire. My oldest had similar tales and the same glow shining through.
I fully support the ECO program at Twinfield. The children have learned many things, although I assure you they do not see it as learning but more as a fun exploration. Over the past two years my children have taught me many things about the animals around us, the vegetation around us, what is edible in the woods, and which plants you can make tea out of. In fact, the youngest says his favorite part, next to catching his own “claw-fish” (a crayfish) with his bare hands (see photo above), is making pine needle tea.
When my second oldest is asked his favorite thing about ECO he says “everything, but especially the warm fires and building structures”. My oldest was not participating last year due to her grade level and expressed a longing for the program.
Not once have my children complained that it was too cold or their soup not warm enough, they are having too much fun to have noticed either way.