In an increasingly fast paced world, being in the present moment seems more and more like a far-fetched idea. The essence of “being present” feels elusive. I see the words “be present” printed on mugs or stickers, more than put into practice.
At Calleva, we strive to encourage people of all ages to “take a leap”. However, whether or not they go off the zip line is secondary to the experience of being in nature. While zip-lining is an adventure, the real magic lies in reconnecting with nature.
Awaken Your Senses
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is doing a large disservice to all of our senses. Our senses go beyond the usual five; engaging our vestibular system and proprioceptive input are crucial to our well being and long term health. As a result, many people don’t realize how an activity out in nature may be the first time in a long while that they truly felt “alive”!
Luckily, being outdoors is the perfect way for the entire being to find balance not just on a physical level but in body, mind and spirit. It’s the ultimate equalizer—nature embraces authenticity without comparison or pressure. Each leaf, each tree, follows its own path.
It is not trying to be anything other than just the way it is. No tree is trying to look just like another tree, no four leaf clover thinks it’s better than the three leaf one, the fall leaf senses when it is time to let it’s true colors shine through without a calendar reminder.
Stepping into nature strengthens one’s inner core, aligning with their individual rhythm. It’s a metamorphosis— an old narrative fades, the original story line starts to fade and you write a new chapter.
Unlocking Inner Strength
While leading a group during a recent College Track day, I witnessed students break barriers. I couldn’t help but smile and feel moved by watching these students break out of their shells. I absolutely believe we learn from, and get inspired by students as much as they do from us.
One student had decided even before putting on his harness, that he was afraid of heights and not going to try the Puzzle Zip. I suggested putting the harness on with the group, just in case. He repeated to me that he had no intention of doing it, but put it on anyway.
Transformative Power of Nature
Just like that, it was like a caterpillar slowly turning into a chrysalis. During the time between putting on the harness and watching his friends go, he embraced the big feelings instead of resisting them and changed the story line. Through gradual acceptance, a transformation began— a story rewritten from fear to determination.
I was shocked to see, as I looked down for the next zip liner, that he was standing at the bottom of the steps ready to go. When he came up on the platform, his body language was saying “I got this”. He went down the zip line. Then he came back up. I felt optimistic that the fist bump we exchanged was a silent nod to a new chapter that will take him to great heights. No pun intended.
Unfortunately, and also fortunately, heights isn’t the only fear that student has or will have but now he has, in his treasure chest, this experience to draw courage from. He will remember that despite his initial resistance, he took that leap and flew across what may have seemed like a never ending line.
People forget the incredible transformation that takes place before a butterfly spreads it’s wings, the caterpillar has to turn into goo first. Willingness to be vulnerable is the goo and without turning into goo, no caterpillar would ever transform into a butterfly.
Kids are often told what to do then measured by numbers or grades. In this natural environment, children find their own measuring stick, discovering unique strengths at their own pace. Though goo sometimes seems unpleasant but it is actually a nutrient rich soup that fuels the transformation process. So maybe instead of staying good job, we should be saying goo job.
At Calleva, we nurture courage through experiential learning. Overcoming one challenge, like conquering a zip line, becomes a lasting treasure— a reminder to face future fears head-on and soar.
Nature’s transformative power isn’t just about conquering heights; it’s about embracing vulnerability, discovering inner strength, and fostering growth.
Dolly found herself knee-deep in outdoor education (and mud) after following her son’s lead. His sense of wonder and curiosity brought them into a world of learning through nature, opening the door to adventures that had a profound impact on their entire being and taught lessons that only nature could offer.
Outdoor education became a bridge connecting Dolly’s passion for social-emotional development and the magnetic pull she felt towards teaching.
She believes the necessary ingredients for seeds to break through their shells are no different for humans. Soaking up the sun, water, and fresh air nourishes us and guides us towards infinite possibilities. Dolly is grateful to have witnessed the countless seeds that have sprouted at Calleva over the past three seasons and looks forward to enriching the soil for future seeds to grow.