Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center (HPCRC) is one big step closer to implementing a new outdoor early education and childcare program this upcoming Fall.
HPCRC recently received a $10,000 grant from the Presbyterian Women towards necessary building renovations. With these renovations, HPCRC’s property is equipped to care for the holistic needs of children enrolled in the Nature Preschool program.
The Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering funds programs that meet basic human needs. The renovations of HPCRC’s community building to include two single-stall ADA compliant bathrooms not only meets the physical needs of children and their families, but also enables the implementation of a preschool program to meet their social, psychological, and developmental needs. In combination with the generous contribution HPCRC received from the High Country Charitable Foundation this past fall, the gift from the Presbyterian Women covers the cost of the renovations! Construction is expected to begin mid-March.
In partnership with Banner Elk Presbyterian Church (BEPC) Preschool, HPCRC plans to implement the nature preschool program in Fall 2021. BEPC Preschool will continue to provide morning childcare for children ages 2-5 at the church. Childcare for children ages 3-5 at HPCRC’s facilities will begin at 1:00 PM and end at 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Children enrolled in both programs will receive transportation mid-day between preschools.
In Fall 2021, HPCRC will also pick up elementary children from Banner Elk Elementary for a separate after school program at the camp. Located on 150 wooded, High Country acres with streams, rocks, and bountiful plant life, HPCRC offers children a resource rich-environment to explore, discover, and grow. Age-appropriate nature play spaces, such as HPCRC’s, ignite a child’s imagination, encourage cooperation, foster connection to others and nature, and combat the effects of prevalent violent video games, inane television, and other social influences unique to the modern world. Given the realities of “zoom fatigue,” perhaps children now more than ever, need supervised, unstructured playtime in the outdoors.
HPCRC preschool and after-school program will follow an emergent curriculum which allows children to self-direct lessons as they learn through play in the outdoors. In “Last Child in the Woods,” Richard Louv explains that play-based outdoor activities enhance children’s natural sense of wonder, exploration, creativity, and self-worth. Nature-play in resource-rich environments fosters interpersonal and problem-solving skills, improves emotional strength, resilience, perseverance, and independence, engages fine and gross motor skills, and encourages critical thinking and leadership.
Although the nature preschool program is new to HPCRC, the camp has a long history of providing safe and enriching programs for children and their families. Since its inception in 1955, HPCRC has specialized in summer camp programs, seasonal retreats, and group accommodations for churches, students, quilters, families, scouts, and more. “We look forward to expanding our ministry to a demographic that is typically underserved in our community: our youngest members,” says Jim Austin, Camp Director.
For more information regarding the nature preschool program or other HPCRC programs, please visit HolstonCenter.org or call 844-465-7866. The camp is located at 6993 Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk.