Conference 2013

presentior bios and workshop details

The opening notes of The Natural Phenomena 2013 were threatened by looming rain clouds, with campers nervously praying their tents would be up to it and organisers scurrying around to bring in more marquees for shelter. 

It was with great relief that we welcomed inspirational speaker Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere, along with her wisdom, enthusiasm and wit, she brought the sun with her into the Wild Woods.  It shone from her and the sky, and was reflected back on the faces of the audience which laughed and cried simultaneously, such was the power of this amazing woman.  Many were inspired by her message of the need to take care of ourselves so that we can take of others.

Steve Gurney, New Zealand multisport athlete and author, thoroughly entertained us with his stories of impressive feats.  These drove home the need for children to be able to take risks early on in life so they can learn about risk and consequences, and make well calculated decisions later in life, or have good reflexes to assist them when they don’t! He posed the question: “are we breeding stupid children?”

International speaker Griffin Longley provided some shocking statistics relating to children’s development and screen time, but conversely provided some great internet based strategies that are changing this…go figure!

Marghanita Hughes travelled from Canada to share in the fun, and to show some great nature based artistic creations to share with little people.

Regular presenters Pennie Brownlee and Anna Gentry continued to provide new and inspiring material and refresh the hearts and souls of delegates, as did a number of other local and national presenters.  Workshops provided options for hands on participation, learning from the experiences of others in connecting children and nature, and nurturing oneself in a vocation that demands a lot of giving of oneself. Worm farming, working with flax, connecting with music and sound, developing relationships with natural environments (in both urban and rural contexts) through design and experiences, and recognising patterns, systems and energies within nature, were just some of the themes covered against the backdrop of assisting children to connect with the natural environment, and the importance of doing so. However, the problem of deciding which workshops to attend amongst such an amazing range of choices still remains the most difficult aspect of being at the Natural Phenomena!

However, one of the biggest highlights was the wonderful food throughout the conference, and fantastic participatory drumming and dancing on Saturday night. 

Conference 2013 was a powerful experience and over the 2 ½ days people’s minds and hearts expanded.  I think by the end almost everyone felt in perfect resonance and harmony with the beautiful trees that stood over them throughout.  Thanks to the Wild Woods, and the Natural Phenomena, delegates left recharged and inspired, ready to go back to their workplaces with new tools, refreshed love for their vocation and a vow to return, with more of their team, to the Wild Woods next November 2014!