Wild Harvest Offers Hands-On Outdoor Experience

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MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips
Top to Bottom: Campers gather around the fire at one of the Wild Harvest Nature Connections sessions; Tapping a tree for sap to make maple syrup; Wild Harvest participants learn to make cordage out of plants.

MIDDLETON–Learning about wild edibles and medicinals, survival skills and naturalist skills may not seem like your typical summer camp, but at Wild Harvest Nature Connection, wants to change that mindset. The Dane County business offers outdoor experiences for not only children, but adults as well.

“We have homeschool programs from September through May, summer camps June through August, adult groups, and individual classes. All of our groups meet at various parks around Dane County, one of which is Indian Lake County Park (Cross Plains),” explained Heather Hutchinson, co-founder and mentor at Wild Harvest Nature Connection.

She said Wild Harvest takes a wholistic approach to nature that focuses on the well-being of the individual, the group and the land. The programs also aim at forming a sense of community with attendees. 

“We start off all of our days in a circle where each person speaks what they are grateful for, we may sing a song about the season and we play a fun run around game like tag but with our nature-based twist. We make sure we start this way each time, it ensures we start off on a good foot. We close each day in a similar way,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said that the programs are interactive and hands on. Kids learn by exploring and playing and often these trips lead to the kids asking questions. This model allows children to encounter nature in an inquisitive manner. On a typical exploration, participants may learn about frogs, berries or terrain. It could also include playing in the mud, foraging for food, and cooking lunch. 

Some of the activities offered by Wild Harvest include:

• Survival skills: fire by friction, survival shelters
• Primitive skills/crafts: cordage making from plants, wild edibles, wild medicinals, utilitarian uses of plants, hide tanning, carving, cooking with fire, tending to the wild, etc.
• Naturalist skills: tracking, bird language, plant/tree id, animal lifestyle and behavior, using field guides, mapping
• Peacemaking skills/conflict resolution skills (when the moment arises)
• Leadership skills: communication, listening, regular time for reflection, speaking in a group setting

It is not just a connection with nature that Wild Harvest hopes to foster, but also a connection to humans.

“People connection is also important in our programs. We have appreciation circles and time for personal reflection through what we call a sit spot. If there is conflict or hurt feelings, we address that through a variety of practices such as talking circles, non-violent communication, creative problem solving, and our mentors use and model deep listening skills and questions to support,” Hutchison said. 

Wild Harvest is enrolling for summer programs now, and offers individual classes, summer clubs and summer camp. You can learn more about the programs and register online at wildharvestnatureconnection.org.

“The hope is that it ripples out into the larger community and the future generations, and it does, we get stories coming back to us all of the time about some Wild Harvest kids leading a bunch of families in playing some of the games we play or go on a hike and sharing about Dogbane and how it’s good for cordage, they then show them how to make cordage out of it. Some families that have come to our programs incorporate gratitude or singing into their home and others go on to share that in other areas of their lives,” Hutchinson concluded. 





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