For decades the Waldorf School of Princeton has done in summer what Waldorf schools do best — offer natural, healthy, developmentally appropriate activities for children — through its general and specialty camps. However, this year, they’re doing it even better.

“Parents have been telling us they really appreciate the Waldorf approach,” says Jamie Quirk, communications and marketing director for the school, “and they’re asking us to kick it up a notch. So we looked at what worked well, and what we could expand upon or do without.”

First, the Waldorf Summer Camp trimmed the top of its age range from 14 to 13, having found that the oldest children preferred to apply as CITs (counselors in training) rather than as campers. Second, instead of offering small specialized camps to the oldest group, Camp Director Suzanne Cunningham reimagined the general camp rhythm for ages 10 to 13.

“Every year, we’d see that some themes were popular and some weren’t,” says Cunningham, who is entering her third camp season with the school. “Plus, at that age, children are still generalists themselves, curious about many things. So we wondered, how can we offer this group richer, themed experiences without forcing them to choose just one?”

The Hawks, as this oldest group has been renamed, will reach new heights with special guests, projects, and experiences such as working with local chefs, naturalists, artists, and musicians, as well as harvesting in the garden for the community soup kitchen. But they’ll also still enjoy the activities they’ve come to know and love from Waldorf, with lots of art and outdoor exploration, as well as visits to the shallow waters of the school’s creek.

The group names are another change, to help paint a picture of what’s different developmentally from age to age. For the younger groups, Cunningham and others looked at the hallmark characteristics of each stage, and matched them up with an animal native to WSP’s grounds. For all children, the days will be filled with singing, free play, handcrafts, and nature walks, with plenty of time for children to explore, create, and dream amidst the school’s 20 acres of fields, forests, gardens, and creek.

Children ages 4 and 5, the Tadpoles, are ready to explore. After free play and circle time, Tadpoles will embark on a host of activities designed to stimulate the imagination, fine motor skills, and social harmony — finger knitting, bread baking, dip dyeing, felting, and feeding the chickens.

Crayfish, ages 6 and 7, can snap into action and indulge their evolving love of learning with daily projects such as sun painting, making toy sail boats, tie-dyeing shirts, and gardening. Like the Tadpoles, they’ll also make daily trips to Waldorf’s magical creek to explore and play near the shallow waters.

The curious Foxes, ages 8 and 9, can dig deeper into fun through experiments and other stimulating activities. Foxes follow free play with activities that feed their growing independence, such as gathering herbs, cooking over a campfire or in a brick oven, candle making, and treasure hunts. Foxes cool off at the Watering Hole, their special spot along the creek.

Waldorf offers three two-week sessions, June 29 through July 10; July 13 through 24; and July 27 through August 7. Children in all age groups can come for one session, two, or all three. The last Friday of each session is an outdoor festival day with games, wholesome refreshments, and surprises.

Let the Waldorf School of Princeton spark your child’s imagination, wonder, and exploration this summer, in a safe and beautiful environment where the just the right discovery can be made at just the right moment.

Waldorf School of Princeton, 1062 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton. 609-466-1970 x110. www.princetonwaldorf.org.

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