Amy (October 2015):
Growing up in a small town on the Central Coast of California, I spent almost all my time outdoors. At school if it was cold, we wore a jacket. If it was hot, we lined up at the drinking fountains. If it rained, we always got wet walking from classroom to cafeteria. Summers were spent camping, playing at the beach, or running on our backyard hill. Nature was my life, because I knew no other way. With each passing year, I fell a little deeper in love with the world my God created. But I wanted to know more, not just appreciate its beauty. How excited I was to discover Nature Pal Exchange! Here was an opportunity not only for my children, by also for myself to learn more about the environment around us. I had no idea though that it would introduce me to a family who would become real-life friends. And here’s that story.
When we were assigned Calli (@calli_sparrowandlillies) and her girls as our Nature Pals, I was thrilled to see she would also be attending the Wild + Free conference in Portland shortly after our exchange. Well, at least that would be one familiar face to search for in a sea of strangers. I am definitely extroverted in small-group conversations, especially when there’s good food and coffee. But when it comes to crowds and introductions, I fit more into the “awkward conversationalist” category. The closer I got to the conference, the more I began have thoughts such as “Oh shoot, what was thinking going alone. I don’t know know a soul there.”
But it turned out that Wild + Free mamas are lovely, and I also found my Nature Pal Mama almost immediately. Glory be! I had barely entered through the doors when I saw her walking right past me. My arm shot out and grabbed her, and quite a loud and excited “Calli!” flew out of my mouth. We had a fabulous two days together, meeting other nature-loving mamas like the awesome @alison_winter, who of course co- founded NPE. Since then, we have texted about curriculum (or rather I have asked Calli’s advice), my boys have written letters to “their new friends,” and ultimately, we planned a special family meet-up for Wild + Free in Williamsburg, with a side trip to Jamestown! And the best part, my kids will get to meet “their new friends”—their first ever Nature Pals.
Calli (January 2016):
Reconnecting with Amy (@mamalamoo) at the November Wild + Free conference, and then spending an entire day together with our families was a highlight of the season for me and my girls! Our children knew each other immediately, and while they romped around Jamestown—exploring wigwams, watching demonstrations, chasing roosters—it felt like Amy and I had so much to talk about, so much ground to cover.
Because the thing is, as most homeschooling mamas know, entering this world of home education can be a daunting and isolating experience, so to find a friend who shares your passions and struggles, someone you know can be a sounding board on a stressful day—now, that’s a treasure indeed! While I’ve helped Amy with curriculum,
she’s advised me in creating a weekly rhythm for my home, and her guidance has become a model for me this year.
Although we both have enjoyed subsequent Nature Pal Exchanges, excited to meet new pals each time (all of which have been wonderful), I think we agree that something special happened with our first exchange. Instagram pals turned into real-life friends.