Amber Paulsen, Kaleidoscope Preschool and Child Care Center’s director, perches on a tree stump in the woods off Enchanted Forest Road and articulates the concept of “nature deficit-disorder” — the growing gap between human beings and nature.
“It’s a common idea among forest schools,” she says. “Outdoor schools are a way to combat it and do things a little differently. Being on an island, the resources that we have available to us in terms of our natural beauty are….”
Her thoughts halt as a loud cry emanates mysteriously from the distance. A howl much louder than the sound of playing kids on the personified “Little Mountain” tree echoes through the Camp Orkila forest.
“You guys, listen!” Paulsen whispers urgently to the kids and the forest goes quiet again.
“I was spooked!” 4-year-old Archer Vierthaler exclaims as he sits by the campfire, his hands comfortably tucked in his tiny Carhartt jacket, a stick poking out of his blue knit cap.
“I think that was a Barred Owl,” preschool teacher Vanessa Daquilante says quietly. “I heard the ‘who-cooks-for-you’ call.”
Archer howls towards the sky.