By Emily W, Jan 2014
My girls and I roughed it last week, camping for the first time ever!
Well, roughing it may be a slight exaggeration-Thank goodness for running water, flushing toilets, showers, refrigeration and fantastic company!
Oh, and the sweltering weather let off for just long enough for us to enjoy a week in the sun without literally melting, what a bonus!
The girls and I spent the week just ten minutes from home at Hilltop Resort on the Murray Valley Highway. New owners Jenni and Roman Domansky have been hard at work breathing new life in to their recently acquired home at Hilltop, a beautiful and renowned local Resort which is seeing renewed interest since the introduction of the wonderful new management in December 2013.
I recently had the privilege of meeting and spending time with Jenni and her family at Hilltop, during the annual NOT Back to School CampFest, which she runs. This event is sponsored by the Home Education Association of Australia and Home Education Network Victoria, it attracts home schooling families from across Victoria and beyond.
Being from Swan Hill myself, I was very excited to spend time with two other local families, as well as meet some great new friends from other places! This was actually the first time I'd ever met home educated children, what an absolute blessing it was to be able to witness these amazing kids first hand! Of all the negative things I've been told that my children will experience if I choose the home school path, these kids did not embody any of it, not one bit! They're 'normal' in every sense of the word, they're socially adept, friendly, welcoming and oh so clever. Watching these children (ages varying from 2 to teenagers) interact with one and other was the most eye-opening, uplifting experience. It was simply beautiful the way they all worked together, sang together, played together.
My favourite, most memorable moment with them was the night before we were to go home, and it was absolutely the icing on the cake for the entire week.
One of the eldest girls had a birthday and all the families came together for a celebration which had the kids super excited, in my experience this can often lead to unhappy campers by the end of the night, this was not the case at all!
All the kids had glow sticks, and while the older ones had a night time pool party the young'uns played nearby on a merry-go-round (spinning park equipment, that's what they're called, right?) Each night they'd been out there, spinning and singing catchy tunes like Alice the Camel, this night was different however, this night they were spinning and singing with glow sticks. They each radiated joy as they spun and sung their little hearts out, no one making a fuss or fighting over anything. I had my head turned for a few minutes whilst chatting and when I turned back I was amazed...
The kids had gotten this wonderful idea. They'd ALL taken off their own glow sticks and joined them together in a circle around the merry-go-round. I watched in amazement at the beauty of what they had created, it may seem insignificant to others but I took real meaning from this event. Watching their joy just intensify as they spun watching their massive joint creation, I felt euphoric. Tears welled in my eyes as I described how overwhelmed I felt by the simple beauty of this gesture. The glow sticks had transformed in to this beautifully coloured blur at the feet of these wise children and I realised that this is what I want for my girls.
M oney can't buy that kind of happiness, and school can't produce these kinds of kids, all so unique but all sharing this amazing, indescribable quality which seems so rare in our 'normal' society.
All in all this camp was the best money I've spent, probably ever in my life! I got to spend time with so many amazing people and families, I can't wait to do it all again in March at the longer, even more jam-packed CampFest!
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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