I would be horribly remiss, if I didn’t dedicate this last blog post of our academic year to the other two-thirds of the DRC staff. Christopher Raymo and Trish Pielnik - are both essential components of our team, and, both, quite literally, appeared exactly when they were most needed (whether they or I knew it at the time). Without them, their talents, skills, hearts, and personalities, DRC would not be nearly as awesome as it is, (I would be considerably less sane), and, we would not have experienced such amazing growth, so quickly.
You may remember, at the end of the 2015/16 academic year, we decided to lower our beginning age from 7 to 5 and develop a program specifically for the 5-9 year olds. In July 2016, after advertising for an intern and not finding one, I asked Chris, the parent of our youngest student that previous year (whom I met while tabling at the Farmer’s Market the summer before), if he would be willing to take on the job. I am incredibly grateful that he said, “yes.” And in agreeing to come on board, we not only gained a knowledgeable Seedlings Coordinator but also an amazing Music Director.
On any given day, Chris can always be found as the calm nucleus surrounded by the sometimes chaotic, always energetic, creative vibe that abounds. I rely on him to be the steady touchstone for everyone – Seedlings, Tweens, and Teens. He brings infinite wisdom, immense patience, a natural love of learning, and a kind, genuine, nurturing presence to this space.
Chris provides a loose structure to the Seedlings days, which allows for plenty of investigative play to satisfy the imaginative pursuits and natural curiosity of all our youngest students. He is also a rocking musician, who has created a music program that provides a safe encouraging space for young people to explore and to develop a relationship with sound, freely, on their own terms. And, we discovered this year that he also has some mad MMA skills that he has been willing to share in a self-defense class.
Last February, as a group of us were leaving to walk up to the library, Trish called the Center to ask about volunteering at DRC. I told her I had 5 minutes to talk; however, as with all of our conversations over the past 16 months, I would come to discover, it lasted a quite a bit longer. It only ended because I was being dragged out the door by several antsy kids waiting to explore the library stacks, and, we had decided that she should visit the following day.
The rest, as they say, is history. Trish volunteered every Wednesday for the last four months of the school year. She spent most of her time with the Seedlings, under table “tents”, becoming completely immersed in their imaginary worlds - whether it was fighting (or, was it becoming?) super villains or making up new poke-mon characters. She was always a willing accomplice to their adventures, letting them lead the way. On one of her last visits, in May, she mentioned that she has always dreamed about getting kids out in nature to share her love of the outdoors and on the most basic level to combat nature deficit disorder, which she has encountered in her patients over her entire career. Long story short – that conversation led to our inaugural Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Program, this year. One day, each week, for the past nine months, Trish, in her completely magical way, has led excursions in and around St Lawrence County and the foothills of the Adirondacks. Our kids were totally immersed in nature, in all types of weather and conditions, where they were given free rein to explore, play, and discover the amazing diversity, versatility, resilience, and healing properties of our Mother Earth. By simply sharing her love of all things wild, Trish, in her gentle, playful, and loving manner, introduced our kids to all of that and more. This program has become so successful, in many ways, transformative for many of our students, that we are expanding it. Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders will have a permanent home base on my land in Pierrepont and it will be available more often during the week for kids who simply feel the need to get away to the woods. I am incredibly grateful to have found these two people, who are dedicated, on the most fundamental level, to everything DRC stands for, and who are willing to share their whole-selves with us all. We are all better for their dedication, devotion, authenticity, generosity, empathy, and, yes, love.
DRC News Our last day of this academic year is Friday, May 25th. We will celebrate with a picnic and games at the Bend-in-the-River Park.
Summer Hours: By Appointment The staff will be in and out of the DRC facility all summer long. Please get in touchto schedule an appointment, if you are interested in checking DRC out for your child, would like to learn more about what we do, or would like to volunteer in the coming year – we don’t want to miss out on talking with you.