Free Forest School in Cleveland has taken off. A little over a year ago, I had found out about the parent organization off of Instagram when someone mentioned what they did for science in their homeschool curriculum was go to something called Free Forest School. I had no idea something like it existed.
I tried to influence friends to look into starting a chapter. I knew at the time I couldn’t because I was teaching a class and running a co-op, and running Cleveland Blessed Is She among other various things I had decided worthy of my time.
June came around and everyone I knew was leaving Cleveland that were instrumental in groups of mine. And the school no longer could provide classes because there were no students of that age wanting the school environment offered. I needed something as a project, I’m a jumper and I like community. Insert Free Forest School.
But then we left for Indianapolis for a month and everything felt as if it was on hold. I couldn’t fill out the paper work and I just felt a bit stuck. I enjoyed Indianapolis immensely, but just needed to get going with this project of mine. At the same time I got invited to a co-op that I wouldn’t be running the show on, so my kids could have that too and it just was nice to not have think of everything on my own.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy starting things and seeing what they become. I really do, sometimes its just nice not to have to expend all that energy to do every activity. Its probably why when my kids play sports I never coach. Even if I have a lot of knowledge of that sport, I literally need the rest and they need the break from me running the show.
We came back and right away I started up a group that would be scouting sites for a pilot forest school location. It took us at least 5 tries to get the right location. We had glass, or mega drop offs, sites with only creeks and not enough varied terrain. It was a patience thing because I really wanted to be able to say we were doing this and we knew what we were doing. We then did find a site and I turned in the paperwork and then I waited and waited. One thing about a volunteer run organization is that you cannot expect speediness in reply at times. Its okay and I appreciate what they do but we just ran rogue for a while that way setting up events under an interest group and it was okay. I still had everyone sign the waiver. :)
Near the end of October it got a bit crazy because we got the okay to go with the school and so we did. Simultaneously I had a volunteer speak up saying she wanted to start her own site on the east side of Cleveland, we had settled on a west side location, so this seemed perfect. The one hard thing was trying to balance a new volunteer with me just learning the ropes myself with giant handbooks being given to me to read and a new site to manage. But somehow, probably with grace, we did it.
We then had regular meetings in two places, and it was slow over winter, but also awesome. People hibernate in the winter, at least in Cleveland. But we did not, and I feel like it honestly made me a happier person to do so. I think my kids did better with that outside free time as well. And we just learned how to do proper winter gear along the way.
As more people joined the consensus was to get a Saturday session going. A large portion of our members had week commitments but could make weekend events. So we tried to get volunteers and eventually we did, in two locations!
And now spring has sprung in Cleveland, and the masses are coming out for the forest. We are trying to set up locations everywhere basically at variable times. I think because I like setting people going on these things, you wouldn’t think I’m an introvert, but I am, so I enjoy my books and down time as well. The large groups scare me, that I am in charge of these folks in some way. The movement itself is awesome. That is where I am at today.