Cancelling Syrendell Summer Camp 2020 was one of the hardest decisions we had to make. Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, we based our decision on the following:
SSC thrives on social interaction. Instructors need to closely demonstrate the workshops, food prep and meals are communal, the kids want be with their friends. Managing and enforcing safety protocols would have posed a major challenge. We wash hands, we sanitize. We can even wear masks. But social distancing in the construct of our daily camp routine would have been near impossible to monitor and enforce.
SSC holds itself to the highest integrity. The reason families return year after year is for our reliably unwavering commitment to the pedagogical approach of camp. We created a camp experience that embraces and enriches the child's whole being. We model respect in our interactions, we teach with compassion and encouragement, we create an inclusive, nurturing space for expression. With state mandates in place, we would be committed to instituting best practices in safety measures. We strongly believe that the safety protocols would compromise the integrity of camp.
SSC is resilient. So mother nature had plans that were different from what any of us would have imagined for 2020! We could cave, shut down, panic. Or we could acquiesce and demonstrate human resiliency. Syrendell can look towards the future with reopening SSC for 2021. We could go online and offer workshops. We could reinvent teaching. The doom and gloom give us an opportunity discover new light and new hope.
We feel for the families who had signed on with us this summer. We were all looking to see our children emerge from the lockdown and be with their friends, to engage in camp workshops, to interact, to smile. But there was something more powerful at play in 2020. We have to be at peace with that.
Rick and Jennifer Tan
Photo | Bethany Petrik Photography
Syrendell Summer Camp 2020 promises another summer of wool, wood, food, friends, and fun! SSC2020 is the only Waldorf-inspired summer camp in northern California. Directors Rick and Jennifer Tan assembled an expert team of educators with Waldorf experience to create a program that is unique to summer camps. It has all the makings of why parents send their children to summer camps and more! Hands-on activities with handwork, woodworking, meal preparation, and an assortment of crafts are rotated through the day in an atmosphere of respect, friendship, and playtime in nature.
If interested in giving your children an enriching and memorable camp experience this summer, register your child today!
Where else can a child learn about herbs, clay sculpting, nature journaling, and movement? Only at Davis Wholistic Learning Resources. Syrendell's Rick and Jennifer Tan have been partners with Wholistic Learning Resources based in Sacramento to bring enrichment classes to the Davis area homeschooling families. This fall-winter term opened the children's imaginations through clay creations and learning about herbs, among other fabulous classes. How great is it being at this 10-week term? As one child put it, "I wish I can be here every day!"
"You complete me," said the wool.
"No, you complete me," said the wood.
And thus the two elements went on with their love affair. Together, they were partners, equals in their relationship, intertwined, yet retaining their own personalities. Together, they lived in harmony. Together, they brought such joy to everyone who would see their sweet partnership!
I've never worked in the medium of chalk until I became a Waldorf teacher. Several years ago, I witnessed a teacher at East Bay Waldorf masterfully create a chalk drawing on a blackboard with an Impressionist quality. I was hooked!
As I experimented with different techniques, I discovered I preferred Realism in depicting my subject matter. This series of drawings is of a performer in the Cirque du Soleil, which I used for my Human Anatomy class in the middle school. Here are a few helful hints on how to create a large scale piece.
Step One | Use a grid method. Traslating an image or photograph you like onto a blackboard is much easier if you scale it up with a grid, then draw in the outlines.
Step Two | Rough chalk in the larger shapes to give a base color, something neutral.
Step Three | Start layering chalk colors. The blackboard by virtue of being black gives an immediate depth to the work, so layering the colors becomes important to balance the black, allowing the colors to give the 3-dimensional quality.
Step Four | Identify areas where light is hitting your subject. This further makes the subject pop, as contrast is made with the black and surrounding colors.
Step Five | Add in detail chalk work. While layering the chalk involved the flat, long edge of the chalk, detailing will need the point end of the chalk.
Step Six | Create a background for your subject. Here, I decided to clean up the board by adding in more black chalk as it made the performer appear to be in a spotlight in a darkened space. The background should complement the subject, unless the whole board is used to create an entire landscape or scene.
Rick and Jennifer Tan of Syrendell partners with Wholistic Learning Resources to bring arts and crafts to homeschooling families who come to them in Davis, CA. The Tans host two ten-week terms in the year. In the colder, wetter, winter-spring term, they create a musical theater play for the children to learn and perform! Rick writes the play and Jennifer writes the music.
Themes include the famous camping trip of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite, the infamous world-wide voyage of Nellie Bly, the legendary strength of Finn McCool, and the fictitious Queen Eliza's royal birthday party. The children learn some basic drama skills and have fun singing and dancing, and their families enjoy a hsort performance at the end of the term.
Rick Tan has also written full length plays when he taught at a private Waldorf school, which aligned with the topics he was teaching in the middle grades. Learn how to write a class play with this free downloadable pdf, written by Rick Tan.
Rick and Jennifer Tan have been teaching side by side as Syrendell for a long time. Informally, as husband and wife, they impart their creative gifts to their own children, often combining their love of art, crafts, and music. For their homeschooling classes and their summer camp program, they enjoy the opportunity to integrate two mediums of creative engagement: woodworking and handwork. For them, it creates a wonderful balance, like the yin and yang, of hard and soft, earth and animal, neutrals and colors. Here they taught the children how to make magic wands and pouches. It engaged all the children's senses and their skills. With time to spare after class, the children ran around outside and began casting (good) spells on each other!
In his diagram of the Social Wellness Milestones through the Grades, a free downloadbale pdf, Rick Tan puts side by side the various child development ideas from Erik Erikson, Kim John Payne, and Steiner. It makes for a fairly neat and tidy accounting of what each grade level builds for the child.
Dr. Tan observed a sweeping arc that builds three very important capacities in the human being: SELF-WORTH, SELF-ESTEEM, and SELF-IDENTITY. While each individual comes to these capacities in their own time, it is essential that educators and parents keep these at the core of nurturing happy and healthy children.
In your path as a teacher, the Five Spheres offers a way of experiencing the education journey. Regard it as a guide on how to equip yourself for the 21st century, a meditation for yourself and what matters to you.
The Five Shperes are SELF, RELATIONSHIPS, BALANCE, RHYTHM, and COURSE. They are keywords that delve into what each brings to the journey. Syrendell has the Five Spheres Trail Guide by Rick Tan available as a free downloadable pdf. Rick Tan would also be happy to lead a workshop for groups interested in learning how to apply it to their worklife.
Here are some excerpts:
SELF | The SELF is everything from which all experiences begin and end. Our experiences encompass thinking, feeling, and doing. In being fully engaged with the world around us, the SELF builds a vitality of being.
RELATIONSHIPS | When we value the RELATIONSHIP that we are in, we are better individuals. We are more empathetic, more understanding, more compassionate. We are more open and trusting. We nurture as we are nurtured. We love as we are loved.
BALANCE | Dynamic equilibrium: maintaining BALANCE in the face of constantly changing conditions. Life is always changing and evolving. The SELF changes (growing older, maybe wiser!). RELATIONSHIPS evolve.
RHYTHM | The flow of blood through the four chambers of the heart has a reliably steady RHYTHM. Whether it is the organism of earth or the human being, life is sustained in RHYTHM.
COURSE | With vitality, synergy, harmony, and sustainabilty, we go on a COURSE of discovery. The adventure of the humankind calls us to explore and to seek. We search for meaning and purpose.
It's really all about heart. It's what guides Jennifer and Rick Tan as teachers of Davis WLR. In the Winter-Spring term that ended yesterday, culminating in a musical theater performance, the children created a collage of heart and spirit, with bits of herbs, wool, and wood thrown in for good measure!
Ten weeks of pure creative soul. Art, Herbal Alchemy, Woodworking, Handwork, Games & Movement, and Musical Theater. Rick and Jennifer teach from a place of intuition and inspiration. The children, in working with nature's gifts, imbue each craft with imagination and simple joy.
Our featured picture at the top is of one of the student's mosaics of the ASL gesture for "love". When the children are given guidance to build artistic skills and given freedom to express themselves, they demonstrate capacities that will always amaze us. Their work becomes a reflection of the underlying lesson that Rick and Jennifer Tan impart - creative heart.