I learned recently that the word April can be traced back to the Latin word aperier which means "to open." As we look outside we can see how fitting it is to mark this month as the time for opening; we see leaves on trees unfurling, flower blossoms blooming, new plant life pushing through the surface of the ground -- opening up and receiving warmth and sunshine.
As we enter the month of May, I invite us all to ponder ways in which we might have experienced an opening during the month of April. Personally, I have felt an increase of energy that has allowed me to feel more open to the possibility of saying yes - yes to taking on more projects, more activities, and more opportunities for connection.
It will be my work next to ensure that I am staying balanced with my energy...but what about you?
How do you perceive blossoming in your life this spring? Leave a comment below, I would love to know.
In the rest of this letter you will find calendar items for May, a couple of community announcements, and photos and reflections from the month of April at RTS.
As always -- Be Well and Stay Curious,
With love from Chrissy and the RTS Staff
Looking Towards May
Saturday, May 13: 10am-12pm Parent Dialogue on RTS Campus. Look out for a sign-up form as the date approaches. Please note that if less than 10 folks sign up to attend, the Parent Dialogue will be cancelled.
Wednesday May 17 - Friday May 19: Family Campout at Carpinteria State Beach /
RTS campus will be closed
Families are invited to join the RTS mentors at Carp State Beach for two nights of camping and community bonding. More information to come in a detailed email from Jim.
Monday May 29: RTS Closed in observance of Memorial Day
News from the Community:
On Saturday May 6 RTS Staff members Chrissy and Maka are hosting a May-Kers Market at Greater Goods. The May-Kers Market will feature over 20 local artisans including some of our very own Rock Tree Sky Learners and parents.
Please come out and support your community of makers and shop local for Mom this Mother's Day.
The May-Kers Market will take place from 3-8pm at Greater Goods, 114 N Padre Juan, Meiners Oaks.
The time has come to sign-up for Rainbow Camp!
Rainbow Camp is a one week summer camp offered by Chrissy and Ella for children between the ages of 5 and 7. Rainbow Camp is a great way to introduce new learners to daily life at Rock Tree Sky while supporting the transition back to RTS for returning Roots learners.
At Rainbow Camp kids will build new friendships, reconnect with each other, enjoy daily craft activities, free play time, and water play in the garden.
Rainbow Camp is open to all children between the ages of 5 and 7; a child does not need to be enrolled at RTS to attend Rainbow Camp.
If you would like to sign-up please email Chrissy or Ella to request a sign-up form.
Reflecting on April
When considering all that happened over the past month, the number one activity that learners of all ages enjoyed were the many outings to the creek and river.
With the warmer weather, learners have been positively ecstatic for opportunities to play in and around the water. Throughout the month it seemed there were daily requests from learners to take walks to the creek.
As a mentor facilitating some of these outings, is it always fun to witness the pure joy that emerges from spending time in nature. And, it is always gratifying to see kids support one another on these adventures. Older children are often observed helping the littler ones navigate rock hopping, pointing out the best swimming spots, and even providing piggy-back rides and offering to help carry water-bottles during the long walk up to the trailhead.
Another way that the learners at RTS have been working on the very important agreement to "take care of each other" is by engaging in conflict resolutions to work through disagreements in healing ways and by practicing speaking and listening from the heart in a "council" (listening circle) container. For a little over a year now, Chrissy and Vera have been facilitating a council for teen learners. But just recently, we began facilitating "friendship circle" for the middle aged learners.
By creating a weekly opportunity to practice listening and speaking from the heart, in addition to the conflict resolutions that occur on an as-needed basis, learners are developing the social skills needed to navigate decision making that honors individuals' differing needs and feelings.
It became important to put these skills to use when making a plan for an end-of-the-school-year dance. While there were some differing opinions amongst learners regarding who should be included to a school dance, learners were able to sit together and hear each other out in order to determine a compromise that could work for everyone.
While it is not always easy work to participate in these intentional conversations, I am filled with the faith that with continual opportunities to practice non-violent communication skills and problem solving, these young people will grow into adults who really know how to navigate difference with love and care.
Other noteworthy activities from the month of April include the Annual Yearbook Cover Art Contest. During the final week of April, learners were invited to create artwork that demonstrates Celebrating Nature to be submitted to the Cover-Art Contest. Next week learners will cast their votes to determine which piece will be the cover art for the 2022/23 Rock Tree Sky Yearbook. Throughout the week, learners could be found busy at work in the art room creating multimedia pieces to submit for consideration.
Other Art Room activities included many favorites such as altering and upcycling clothing, sewing, loom weaving, and collaging.
In the Design Room, Peter observed a lot of coding throughout the month. Other favorite Design Room activities included "the second coming of the marble runs," designing dream playground equipment, lots of 3D printing, and model airplane building.
Meanwhile, in the Imagination Room, learners began their yearly exploration of eggs and nests. Ella pulled the old incubator out of the supply closet and kids have been excitedly searching for freshly lain eggs around the chicken coop and garden area to put in the incubator. While waiting for the eggs to hatch, kids have learned about the life cycle of chickens, discovered what types of animals lay eggs, and practiced nest making. We hope to see many healthy baby chicks hatch in May. Stay tuned!