Apple Tree Center forest school

Apple Academy Forest School students explore their outdoor classroom with teaching assistant and mentor, Devin McRoberts. The goal of Forest School is to boost self resilience, team building skills, problem solving and self esteem. The Apple Tree Center’s Summer Adventure Camp started May 18 and continues until Aug. 5. Caitlin Baker, the lead forest school teacher, took this picturing at Detering Nature Preserve, an Acres Land Trust site off U.S. 6 at 1421 Kammerer Road, Kendallville. Forest School students visit local sites such as Kendallville’s parks, the Community Learning Center’s yard, Acres Land Trust locations and other natural habitats.

KENDALLVILLE — The Apple Tree Center, in the heart of Kendallville on the corner of Riley and East Mitchell streets, is grateful to be slowly and safely reopening.

Debbie Norris, program director, said they are excited to have launched their Summer Adventure Camp.

“We have re-opened with new policies and procedures to keep our families and staff healthy and safe,” she said

Safety measures include masks, extra sanitization throughout the hours of operation, curbside delivery of children and more.

“It has been a slow restart but more and more our parents are getting back to work,” Norris said. “Looking past summer, we will have before/after school programs and we are enrolling for our Forest School nature-based preschool this fall.

“We will be offering morning and afternoon sessions. We transitioned into Forest School last fall and it was a huge success. The lead Forest School teacher, Caitlin Baker, attended a training at Wauhatchie Schools in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with Jean Lomino this last February.

“This was supported by the Dekko Foundation; it was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other area educators interested in nature based learning,” Norris said.

Forest School students enjoy local sites such as Kendallville’s parks, the Community Learning Center’s yard, nearby Acres Land Trust locations and other local natural habitats.

Norris said they will be implementing the training in their Apple Academy Forest School and throughout all of their programming at The Apple Tree Center.

“We continue to train our staff and welcome new teachers Emily Renkenberger and Corrina Goolsby,” Norris said. “We are excited to keep working alongside others. The seeds our preschoolers planted before the stay-at-home order have developed into hardy young plants and our summer campers will care for a fruit and vegetable garden in our raised beds.

“We are very excited and we see hope blooming all around us. Here in Kendallville we have had an outpouring of love and support through monetary donations, an abundance of food, and volunteerism for our Open Table Free Community Meal Tuesday evenings at 5:30 p.m. (carry out), plus many blessings being filled in The Blessing Box.”

About 100 people per week are participating in the Tuesday meals.

Norris added that they have been praying for the community and they have experienced many answered prayers.

“We are so thankful,” she said.

To contact The Apple Tree Center call 599-0207 or go online to theappletreecenter.com or Facebook.

The summer camp hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. but children can come as early as 5:30 a.m.

New summer camp students (ages 3 to 12) will be accepted throughout the summer. So far, about 17 are enrolled; last year they had about 40. Numbers are expected to increase as parents return to work.

“We have been very blessed even through this whole COVID crisis,” Norris said.

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