Trail school with Lise

Hello! My name is Lise Brown, I am an owner & facilitator at Momenta Inc. and I wear a few hats….I provide clinical direction for our organization, I provide adventure therapy sessions for individuals, groups and families, I provide consulting for youth serving agencies who would like to recharge as a staff team, or rethink existing policies and procedures, goals or strategies and I support our incredible staff team to deliver meaningful programs. I love this work, I love people and I love leading this value driven organization. 

On March 15th my professional priorities shifted. I am a sole parent, so if child care centres are closed and I can’t access my support systems, my focus is my son 100% of the time. Side note….#childcareisessential. I knew this would be a challenge to balance my role at work and my role as a mother and instantly be a grade 4 teacher.

For some reason, when I woke up on March 15th, I knew that I needed to maintain a deep connection to the land, to myself and to my son in what I knew would be a challenging time ahead. I also knew that traditional school work with my leadership may not be the best way to move forward. Another sidenote…#teachersareamazing. So, we committed to a daily walk – ideally on a trail in a forest, but any 2 km journey would do the trick. My son and I are at our best when we are outside and surrounded by the natural world – it helps to regulate, to process feelings and to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. We have named our journeys “Trail School” and as I am writing this, we have logged 44 days of social distancing, and have walked around 150km together. Additionally, on day 23, my son transitioned from verbal reflection about the trail experience, to written documentation about his trail experience which includes where he went, how far he travelled, what he saw and heard and how he was feeling. He also includes facts about one thing he saw in the natural world that day. 

We have defined Trail School as:

-a daily journey of at least 2km

-child-led pace

-open inquiry – which means we don’t have a set agenda, but we are noticing and logging our questions that arise during our walks for further research about the natural world

-incorporates a mindful moment (stillness) and reflection 

Trail School has been the daily routine we needed and has allowed for my son to be more focused and regulated when we need to be at home, and I need to go to work in the basement. Trails and journeys have always been at the heart of our family but never to this extent, my hope is that this instills a deep connection to the land for my son and he remembers these difficult times as moments of joy and wonder in natural spaces.

Trail School, episode 1: Today on the trail Lise shares a story about emotions, a mindfulness moment and a reflection you can do with your body. Resource: My Many Colored Days, Dr. Seuss, 1996, Random House Inc.

Trail School, episode 2: Join Lise on a new trail for a mindful moment and reflection. Resource: Imanginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids, Carolyn Clarke, 2011, CreateSpace

Trail School, episode 3: Lise will share a working definition of Trail School, a story, an open inquiry, reflection and a mindful moment. And, what Trail School looks like off the trail. Resource: All in a Day, Cynthia Rylant, 2009, Abrams Appleseed

Trail School, episode 4: In this episode on the trail, Lise reads a story about family, sings a song that helps her family to regulate and asks you to join her on the trail to notice the trail surroundings. We will be sharing a resource list soon. Resources: Looking After Me, 2005, Denis Lecoy from the “Caring for Me” series produced in partnership between the Penticton Indian Band and Theytus Books Ltd for the BC First Nations Head Start Program. Music in Isolation – Episode 1, Allison Davies, 2020, YouTube

Trail school, episode 5: Today on the trail, Tian and Lise show you what is in their backpacks, Lise reads a story about feelings, and ends with a mindful moment at a pond. Resource: The way I feel, written and illustrated by Janan Cain