Adventure plays a big role in all our programs – whether it is a quest for small insects on a trek around a local bushland with our Mud Pies Nature Playgroups, or a saunter down the river foreshore for a change of scenery and to explore the land ahead. The main thing is, it’s never a ‘walk’ because going for a walk doesn’t have the same ring to it. Dare I say, a ‘walk’ is a little pedestrian!

This story occurs on one of our adventures along the sandy beaches of the swan river, headed for the stormwater drain (a favourite element for many of our regulars). That is another story though.

While making our way to the drain, one boy, who seemed to like breaks from the bigger group to find quiet times for himself, decided to explore the water lapping at pylons below the boatshed. With bare feet, wide eyes, hand-made wooden spear in hand and an inquisitive mind, he tiptoed through the shallow water peering with all his might.

Suddenly – screams, high pitched alarm calls radiated from his location almost under the boat shed. Alerted by the shrieks, Daniel turned to spring into action but quickly realised these were the trills of joy and elation – not of danger or fear. The boy had found a seahorse… a real living seahorse floating in the reeds. In this new discovery, the unexpected creature had clasped onto the boy’s hand as he reached down to move away the seaweed and leaves.

He was bombarded by his peers, some in disbelief, others overwhelmed by his discovery. Care was taken and advice was given to ensure the safety of this precious creature. It was gently coaxed to grab on to the boy’s spear where, after everyone had a opportunity to inspect and marvel over it, the seahorse was gently placed back amongst the pylons.

‘I CAN’T BELIEVE I FOUND AN ACTUAL SEAHORSE,’ were the words this boy repeated about a 100 more times that afternoon, each time with the same level of elation and joy as when he first made his discovery. Nature had touched that boy’s heart and left an impression in his mind that would stay with him – when he retold the story to his mum at pickup and even months later when he once again returned to another Educated by Nature program.

Children need access to nature in all of its diversity, in all of its glory. Access to new and varied spaces. When given this access to spaces, those spaces in which nature itself provides provocation, children can explore and discover. The elements they find are authentic surprises for them. These opportunities empower children to make decisions for themselves based on real life experiences. Children become resourceful and have the chance to use their inbuilt creativity and spontaneity as the inspirational platform for leaning. They find JOY in the unknown and surprising.