Jun. 28—Local kids got a chance to try something new during a summer gardening camp at the Wilson County Civic League last week.
The camp was hosted and organized by Vine Branch Fellowship, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the source of food that people eat. Its leader, Alex and Shené Scott, have created and cultivated numerous community garden beds throughout Lebanon, and they are determined to sow those seeds and share the rewards.
The camp combined several elements of living a healthy lifestyle, including yoga, gardening and food knowledge. The local kids who were attending said that it was a fun way to make friends during summertime while learning about food and ways to be healthy.
“On different days, at the end of the day, Ms. Leslyne (Watkins) comes and talks to us about different stuff, like grains and fruits and vegetables,” said Cooper Kirby, a 9-year-old camper.
Watkins is the lead agent for the Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program in Wilson County and showed the campers a rule for distinguishing foods.
“Some foods that people think are vegetables are actually fruit, because they grow from flowers,” Kirby said. “Fruits are grown from flowers, and vegetables just grow.”
Another camper, Shaddai Chinyanga, said that he did not know the difference before coming to camp but that now he can apply that information to a garden he has at home.
“I like to go check on my garden at home,” Chinyanga said. “I’ve got some stuff growing in there right now that I don’t know what it is. It’s just green.”
With what he learned at camp, Chinyanga may be able to figure out what it is that’s growing.
Not every single event on the schedule involved learning a new skill. Sometimes, it was just for fun.
“One day, a bunch of puppies came into the gym,” Zach Willson said.
Like a lot of 9-year-olds, Willson and Kirby like to play video games in their free time.
“Me and Zach play Roblox and Fortnite together,” Kirby said.
Willson and Kirby agreed that it was fun to be able to get out of the house and spend some time together in person, while making other friends.
Part of the camp involved learning how to do different yoga poses. Kathleen Drake, owner of Rise Fitness in Mt. Juliet, led a yoga session on Thursday, where the students practiced everything from downward dog to warrior poses. She explained that the lesson goes far beyond the basics of yoga.
“We encourage them to learn how groups come together to support each other,” Drake said. “In each session we try to teach them how to calm their fears and calm their mind, with different techniques.”
One of the lessons encourages the kids to let it all out.
“We do what I call coo-coo brain,” Drake said. “I have them tell me everything going on in their mind at one time, really loudly. Everyone is doing it at the same time, so it creates an example of how our brain feels at times, when we try to do too many things at one time. Then, I will have everybody come back to one thing. Sometimes, I will suggest picking a letter of the alphabet and start there. I get them to think about that letter and something that goes along with that letter. If their brain starts to go toward something else, I tell them to just go back to that letter.”
Drake remarked just how easily most of the kids picked up on the yoga positions.
“I started crow with them yesterday, and I was surprised at how quickly they caught on,” Drake said.
It was a her first time helping with the summer camp, but she indicated that she would like to continue.
The campers had a bit to say about yoga as well.
“My favorite yoga pose was the crow,” Kirby said. “It’s the hardest one to learn.”
The crow is an arm-balancing pose, in which hands are planted on the floor, shins rest upon the upper arms and the feet are lifted up.
Willson said that he liked the flower pose. The flower pose is a seated yoga position that stretches the hips and reinforces inward thighs and lower legs.
“You put your legs up and your arms under it,” Willson said, as he acted out the pose.
The camp may only have lasted a week, but the organizers are hopeful that seeds were planted with the campers that will last a lifetime.