by Sheri Vettel
“[Children] don’t have to look for the magic in life. They can see it, feel it, and taste it’s sweetness everywhere. Our job isn’t to correct that, but to nurture it, to preserve it, and perhaps to re-learn it.” – Cristen Rodgers
As you may have previously read, there are many special reasons why I choose to bring my son to the Firefly Gathering. This year, his brother, freshly earthside at 5 weeks-old attended too (very likely the youngest gathering attendee!).
“You guys are hardcore.” This is one of my favorite responses to the fact that we brought our newborn camping with us. My husband and I are lucky to have been blessed with a calm baby who loves nature, however I would be remiss if I did not mention many moments were difficult. It required teamwork between my husband and I, fueled by the importance of sharing the Firefly community with both of our boys.
This community gives us hope for a more peaceful future. Children are sponges soaking up the world around them and I am happy that my boys will be able to remember the magic they encounter at Firefly. As they grow, I look forward to them living what they learn as a result of exchanging priceless knowledge and skills with others.
With all of this in mind the fact that we had a new family member did not stop us from returning this year. So, we found a bigger tent and headed for the mountains unsure of what to expect.
Camping with our little one was easier than I thought it would be. In truth, it was quite liberating. The weeks prior to Firefly were spent recovering from childbirth and I spent significant time in bed resting and nursing my son. At the gathering I reacquainted myself with nature and found the sunshine and fresh air were soothing to my soul.
Most of my worry revolved around how my young son would adapt. Would he be uncomfortable in the tent? Too cold? Too hot? Overstimulated? This required reflection on my part and seeing the present moment for what was truly unfolding. I also reminded myself that it was quite normal for babies to sleep in natural settings throughout history and around the world.
My son adapted to life at the gathering beautifully. He slept well at night, bundled in layers on a changing table pad—in fact, he experienced his longest stretch of sleep to date! He snoozed most of the day nestled close to me in a sling while my husband and I attended classes. One class was even for him—infant massage!
We had minor difficulties. It was challenging to keep his delicate skin out of the sun and despite our effort, he was kissed with a tiny patch of sunburn on his cheek. Since walking up hilly terrain was still uncomfortable for me, I had to make sure that I had most items I needed for us all with me to avoid multiple trips back to the tent. We also missed a class or two due to the logistics of meeting all of our needs throughout the day. Overall, we agreed we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
I was very excited to witness more children at the gathering this year. It made me smile to watch the little ones expressing gratitude, forming friendships, and appreciating the earth. These children will take the foundations presented to them at Firefly and together build upon it year after year. What has been created must be nurtured and preserved and I believe this starts with the youngest among us.