We are designing the nature clubs to be as engaging as possible. Of course, we would rather be meeting you in person in High Park, but since that is not possible, our goals are to: 1) help you connect with nature either in your neighbourhood or from your home, and 2) to continue to connect with other naturalists in our city in a supportive, safe environment.
The learning packages will include activities to try from home, resources, links, challenges and more. These can be done together with your child. The Zoom meetings will be 45 min – 1 hour and will be quite different depending on the age of the group. Most age groups will include sharing circles, lively guided discussions, naturalist show-and-tells, and challenges. For the early years clubs, there will also be songs and rhymes.
You will need an internet-enabled device. Learning packages will be sent in PDF format to your email. There will be links to follow, resources to explore and challenges for you to engage with in real life. For the Zoom meetings, you will need either a computer with webcam and mic (many computers have these included already) OR a tablet OR a smartphone. There is also an option to call in to the Zoom meetings, but while you could hear us and speak in the sharing circle, you wouldn’t be able to see the group or access links we send through the chat function.
Once the temporary closure due to COVID-19 is over and we can safely meet in High Park, we will be returning to in-person programs. However, if there is demand to continue online programs, we would consider continuing some online options.
We set the minimum fee at 50% of the original program fee. This portion of the fee allows the Nature Centre to cover the most basic costs of the online clubs including staff time. Of course, the Nature Centre is a registered charity and we rely on the program fees to continue offering engaging programs.
We understand that these are also busy times for folks. We do not want to add to that stress! You can still participate in the Zoom meetings without doing the activities from the learning package. As well, you can do the learning packages without participating in the Zoom meetings. We fully understand and hope people learn at their pace in a way that works for them.
More than anything, we care about the health and safety of our participants, staff and larger community. Our programming will continue to be responsive to the calls for social and physical distancing from Toronto Public Health. At this point, short walks in our neighbourhood for exercise and fresh air are still viable options if we adamantly physically distance. All suggested activities will align with physical distancing. We are also mindful that staying inside may become necessary. At that point our activities will be relevant to that situation. There are plenty of ways that we can connect with nature just outside our window. We feel that maintaining a relationship with the natural world is just as important now ….and perhaps even more so.
We recognize that the online world presents a different set of risks. We are taking steps to reduce those risks and create an environment that is safe for all our participants. Here are some of the ways we minimize risks through Zoom:
We are in the process of creating an HPNC online code of conduct and will be discussing our expectations of participant online behaviour during online club discussions.
The short answer is: it depends. 2-year-old Waddlers aren’t going to be able to log in and carry on a discussion on Zoom, but the 12-year-olds in Coyotes would probably be horrified if their parent/caregiver helped them out in the sharing circle.