|Published:||12 Mar at 6 PM|
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The annual School in Nature tradition originated in Germany with the wish to give children living in the cities a chance to enjoy the clean air and natural greenery of the countryside.
The first such expedition took place in 1904 at the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, and soon spread to France and Denmark. Over the years it became a popular predecessor of the present day ‘forest school’ where pupils spend the entire day outside, swapping blackboards and desks for blue skies and green meadows. The idea was taken up in the Czech Republic in 1924, when working class kids with TB were taken to the countryside to play and learn as well as to breathe fresh air. Two decades later, Czechoslovakian schools and their pupils embraced the concept with enthusiasm, and the tradition was born.
By the end of the last century, the four-week retreats had been shortened to a week at any time in the year, but the tradition remained and was enjoyed by all. However, nowadays a number of expat parents are opting out of the programme as they’re concerned for the safety of their children, especially if they’re younger than six years old. One American parent whose youngest child went to sleepover camp at the age of four said she was scared but allowed the little one to go on the advice of her Czech husband and his memories of his trip. The child, as well as her parents, trusted the camp leaders, and she came back full of stories of what she’d done and how much fun it was.
Apparently, it’s not just expat moms who freak out at the prospect of their babies being let loose in a Czech forest, as Czech parents often feel the same way. For children from cross-cultural parents, it’s an education in Czech culture and its traditions along with the joys of playing outside all day and learning about nature and the country’s varied species of wildlife. It’s also a great motivator for independence, as well as a parental experience in letting go and allowing their children to develop in an exciting new environment.
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