I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this sooner. I guess I had a bit of an idea about something like this ages ago, but never took it to its full potential in my mind, so nothing ever came of it. Recently this seed of an idea was planted and it has bloomed in a very exciting way and now I am extremely excited and I think it could really work!!
It all started recently when I was lamenting (as I am known to do) the fact that it will be ages before we ever can afford to purchase the land I dream of having, so that we can have property to take groups on nature trails.This is a long time dream of mine, since I used to lead educational trails at an outdoor school years ago and have long dreamed of having a beautiful piece of property in nature somewhere, making a living off of running similar trails on my own land.
My husband off-handedly made a comment that completely changed my perspective and I am still in shock because usually he’s the annoying voice of reason, squashing my dreams (well, that’s generally how I take his input, lol!)
He said: “Why can’t you rent space from someone?”
Suddenly my mind started whirring. Why CAN’T I use someone else’s space? Why does it have to be my own? For that matter, why do I have to even RENT? Why can’t I take groups onto public land and lead trails there? Of course I will have to look into the legalities, but I’m pretty sure there are all sorts of tour groups that charge groups of people to take them on tours of Yosemite and other such trips in our area…I know I’ve seen them and never considered them since they are pricey.
So why can’t I do something similar for homeschoolers? Charge families to take them up to a public trail and lead the same kind of educational trails I learned how to do (and did quite well, and LOVED doing it) during my time at SCICON Outdoor School?
And that got me thinking more…
If I do this, then I can have a heckuva lot more diversity than I would have on my own small piece of property…we could go ANYWHERE that people were willing to drive to. And living where I live, there are a LOT of national parks and forests within an hour or 2. Tons of lakes, rivers, forest, parks…hell, we have the giant redwoods nearby! We are not far from the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas and nature abounds, if we just drive an hour or so out…which we never do. (I’m disgusted with myself about that, believe me. We live about an hour and half from Yosemite and I’ve never taken my kids!)
Another thing I realized…I tend to bore of ideas pretty quickly. Maintaining activities is not easy for me and I tend to lose steam after just a few months or a year or so and then my enthusiasm wanes and I tend to drop things. If I waited until we had enough money to buy just the right land and do all I need to do to get this kind of biz up and running, how long will it be before I start to lose my excitement and am looking for the next cool idea? After investing tons of money and time and energy?
Knowing myself and how I am… Which I believe is a result of being a military kid, constantly moving and seeing new things. We had major moves throughout my entire childhood every 2-3 yrs (even international) and minor moves basically every year ( within the same area, just moving houses), so I crave change. I am starting to get the hang of how to keep things exciting and interesting for myself, now that I’ve lived with me so long, lol!! One thing I’ve learned is not to strap myself into something that tends to be more permanent and unchanging. Like I had the idea to create an indoor play place for kids but then I realized a permanent brick and mortar place like that would become like a prison for me over time…and I’d be stuck with it indefinitely! Not an easy business to move on from when I get tired of it!
And I cannot do long term classes that don’t have an ending….continuing month after month, year after year, with no end in sight. I did that with in-home “Mommy & Me” classes years ago…I loved doing the classes, but I realize now that short sessions would have worked better for me…so I could take breaks for some months when I’m just not feeling it…Change things up regularly.
So WHY was I still holding onto this idea of owning and living on a gorgeous bit of natural property where I’d run educational trails for groups for the rest of my life? Maybe a summer camp for variety, but really…that’s an enormous investment for something that I know from experience I will eventually lose interest in!
So now, this new idea…
I can arrange small groups for trips whenever I want…a month or more straight of weekly trails if I am feeling it…then schedule breaks wherever I want! I can run all different topics and I can choose from any number of locations! (Assuming that proves to be legal…if anyone knows the legalities of this, drop me a line!) I can mix it up regularly and do whatever I want, whenever I want, and there’s no massive monetary outlay to get going! BRILLIANT!! Why didn’t I think of this before??
And there’s another bonus: I can finally get my kids out into nature regularly! Can’t seem to get my butt moving on my own. Bad mama!! So excited by the possibilities here with weekly (or so) trips to some of these gorgeous areas around us!
And I’m GOOD at leading educational trails! I know my strengths and weaknesses well….weak on maintaining things that don’t provide enough diversity to keep my interest….STRONG on leading educational activities for kids!
Beyond SCICON, I’ve done a TON of this sort of thing over the years…teaching preschool, running my mommy & me program, working at summer day camps, leading annual trips to SCICON to teach about and share the salamander migration… teaching classes at a local kids science center…and most recently, leading activities and teaching occasional classes at my kids’ homeschool charter. (I have surprisingly few pics of me doing any of this.)
I ADORE this kind of work, and I’m GOOD at it!
I think this could be a really fun thing that will allow me a lot of variety to keep my interest for some time, and bring us some much needed income!
So if you live in the Central Valley, California, keep your eye open for the new “Tina’s Nature Adventures”! I think I’ll be creating a webpage on my local family site, FresnoFamily.com eventually, once I get going on this.
For now, I’ve been digging out all my outdoor Ed and science and nature resources…going through old lesson plans, dusting them off and seeing how I could tweak to my current needs.
Another cool thing…I learned all about experiential outdoor education from my training and experience at SCICON, but I’ve since learned also about Charlotte Mason education, and I am really digging the idea of incorporating nature journals on my trails, alongside the fun games!
This could be the start of something life changing for the Smith family!