The boys and I belong to a Forest School Co-op. We meet weekly at a park, forest preserve or nature center to play, explore and experience the great outdoors.
It is pretty amazing what the kids come up with no adult interference. They just play and let their imaginations lead them to new and exciting discoveries.
We met at a local park with trails that led to a beach. The kids had a blast building volcanoes, splashing through the water and finding shells to take home.
We were the last to leave the beach and we took what I thought to be a shortcut back to the van.
Turns out, I was wrong.
I kept thinking the trail we were on would lead us to the parking lot at some point.
Stubbornly, I did not want to backtrack. I just knew the parking lot was around the next turn.
“Just a bit further boys and we’ll be back to the van.”
The boys were wet and full of sand from their playtime on the beach. I was tired and starting to get irritated.
Then Joe saw a turtle.
“Look at that turtle Mom!”
Jake saw little minnows.
I saw the unplanned adventure we were on and my irritation melted away.
We were lost in the woods. Granted, we were on a trail and could hear civilization through the trees, but we didn’t know where to go to get to our van.
I pulled out a compass Joe had packed in his backpack, handed it to him and told him how it works. With a little help, he figured out which way we were facing.
We’d parked in a restaurant’s lot so I pulled up the map on my phone. We were a 20 minute walk from our van.
“Which way do we need to go Joe?”
“That way,” he said pointing to the flag on the map.
So we headed “that way” munching on apples and looking for birds, frogs, turtles and deer.
We came upon a wooden walkway where we saw huge dragonflies chasing each other and flittering from reed to reed.
Tiny fish were swimming in the water, a few small turtles were sunning themselves on logs and a big snake was slithering through the tall weeds.
It was one of the best adventures we’ve had because it was not planned. I could have let the irritation fester and negatively impact our walk.
But Joe saw a turtle and Jake saw a fish and, just like that, they pulled me out of my bad mood and into an amazing and unplanned adventure.
Taking me on their journey
Turning gray skies blue