Summer Camp for Little Farmers
The Little Famers Learning Center aims to not only provide children from urban areas opportunities to experience the life and nature in satoyama, but to also give children from farming families a chance to rediscover the surrounding nature and living organisms. This program also teaches children the power to live, in other words survival skills and the ability to adapt.
The “Summer Camp” for children began in the farming villages in Aso after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 and the subsequent nuclear meltdown.
These camps not only enabled children from urban areas to experience the life and nature in satoyama, but they also gave children from farming families a chance to rediscover the surrounding nature and living organisms. The camps take place once or twice a year. Farmers provides 10-15 participants a place to stay, a place for activities, and a place to learn.
They do not want the camps to merely serve as a platform for exchange between children in rural and urban areas. They place great importance on teaching children to think and act on their own. At the camps, the children decide what they want to do and the rules during their stay together. Adults simply help arrange, for example, the type of food the children want to eat or the resources they need for their activities.
In 2016, the Kumamoto Earthquake hit Japan, and in response the Heroines of the Country renamed the camp the “Summer Camp for Little Farmers” and redesigned it to teach children from farming families about business management and philosophy, to help them discover the intrinsic strengths of farmers, and to nurture this strength. The workshop was held from July 26 to 30, over 4 nights, 5 days, to help develop talent capable of thinking for themselves and working collaboratively with others.
The children set aside time for adults 1 hour a day to talk about “Philosophy for Children.” For 1 hour, they were asked to talk freely and explore a specific theme in depth. On the last day, the Little Farmers Market was organized and children split up into 3 teams and competed against one another to see which team could sell the most.
Of the 15 participants, 13 were children from farming families (from Chiba, Fukui, Niigata, and Kumamoto prefectures) and 2 were not. Considering that until 2015, there were only around 10 participants and half were from urban areas, this year’s workshop was slightly different from those held in the past.