We know that children can be inquisitive, explorational, adventurous, and messy at times, among other characteristics. Many of us here at Earthaven enjoy having children in our lives. In the community, we generally try to take reasonable measures regarding safety and child-friendliness, and ultimately, parents are responsible for their own children and their children’s safety.
If we plopped an Earthaven-born child down in the city, they would have a lot to learn about how to stay safe, sense dangers, relate to others, etc. Likewise, Earthaven is a new and unusual environment for many visiting children and families, with numerous invisible boundaries, cultural norms, and physical risks different from the world they normally live in. While families and children visiting Earthaven have an opportunity for connection with nature and one another in a unique way, visiting here can be akin to traveling to a foreign country, and the transition can be difficult. As children and parents acclimate to a new culture, there is a learning curve.
When you and your child(ren) visit Earthaven, you may notice there are other children of the same age who have more freedom/autonomy than would be safe for your child. Remember that many Earthaven children were born here and/or have lived here for years, gradually developing a multi-sensory comprehension of the “lay of the land,” including social expectations and natural dangers such as poison ivy, streams/ponds, roads, etc.
Below are some basic ground rules to support visiting parents, their children, and our community.
Earthaven is likely to have a different level of structure than your kids are used to. This can be challenging for kids to adjust to. Watch for behavioral signs in your kids so you can provide the support they need to adapt.
Please prepare yourself and your child for these expectations ahead of your visit and plan to have an appropriate level of oversight during your visit.
At Play: All visiting children must be supervised by an adult, frequently and regularly. Of course, very young/non-verbal children are expected to be under parental care at all times. With children under 10, please physically/verbally/visually check in with them continuously. With older children who have had time to adapt to the Earthaven environment, use discernment and check in at intervals. Many challenges can arise in a short time that a parent’s watchful eye can prevent (for example leaving of messes in common spaces, tampering with property, danger to the child and/or other children, behaving disrespectfully to humans and/or animals, etc.)
Around Physical Dangers: Visiting Ecovillage (and/or living rurally) requires special attention to safety issues, including around realities such as working farms, water features, roads, utilities, etc. In general, at Earthaven, we live more closely with weather, creeks, wild animals, tools, and in-process building projects. Please educate your child about safety regarding these facets of ecovillage living. Also, please note that there are flyers posted at the campground, in the Council Hall, and in the Mail Trailer regarding common dangers, such as poisonous plants and animals, in our ecosystem.
In the Community: Please plan to do regular visual sweeps around your campsite and places you visit for messes, dishes, toys, unfinished projects and the like. In a similar vein, we value children participating in chores. If you’d like your child(ren) to participate in chores, please work with them and supervise them during your stay at EH. That helps support order and safety for all.
The above points are intended to bring about awareness of how to keep visiting children physically safe. In addition to unfamiliar environmental situations, as mentioned earlier, you and your child(ren) will inevitably encounter unfamiliar social situations while at Earthaven.
This village is our home, and yet we are a diverse constellation of roughly 100 individuals who are doing our best to live congenially with one another—and that’s with each other as residents. Of course, this gets amplified with visitors. Rather than try to spell it all out here (with rules, agreements, unspoken expectations, etc.), we ask that you have care for us and our community, that you act as observers first and foremost. This is actually a profoundly important skill for navigating community: taking initiative in seeking consent and guidance on community and individual matters, rather than making assumptions.