Preschool in the Kodiak Island Borough began last week and one outdoor program which debuted last year has just opened a class for 3 and 4-year-olds. The expansion at the Kodiak Baptist Mission comes after its success last year with 4 and 5-year-olds.
Lead outdoor preschool teacher, Josh Bell, says the outdoor class idea was a dream of his, and he’s overwhelmed by the response in the community.
“I really wasn’t sure that other people would think it was a good idea – let me take your kid and just keep ‘em outside all day – but people [said] oh, no, this is great, and my kid loves it. And so, every time I hear somebody say this, it just – I feel like, okay, I’m not crazy, and I’m doing a good thing here. We’re onto something.”
Bell says the kids have 32 acres over which to roam and play, and that includes both wooded areas and a farm with horses, chickens, and other farmyard animals.
“All of those things give the kids opportunity to see a glimpse into farm life, and they get a chance to do a lot of the things – feed baby goats, milk a goat, see how to properly take care of horses. That’s a huge draw for kids of all ages.”
And as a home base, the kids have a tent.
“Going inside the wall tent is as much inside that we get. Barring going to the restroom, but that was a question we had a lot. Is this tent gonna be warm enough? And we found out last year that the wood stove makes it quite toasty in there, so there’s no worries about getting too cold as long as we can warm up in the tent.”
Staff is full of ideas for new programs. Bell says they’re looking into establishing an adventure summer camp for older teens. He says they hope to have backpacking and kayaking trips, among other nature-oriented explorations of the bush and beyond.