instill a sense of wonder

develop the skill of wander


for homeschoolers, virtual schoolers & families wanting

an off grid, nature, farm, and creativity experience

find out more

"Let children play, it's good for them!" -

"The Power of Play - How Fun and Games Help Children Thrive" -

"The Secret Power of Play" -

"Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature" - child mind institute

"Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature" - the guardian

"5 Really Good Reasons Why Kids Need Time In Nature" -

Do you want to provide your child with unstructured opportunities to explore nature, interact with animals, get involved in gardening or other outdoor chores, and in that process have chance for creativity and play?

Get out of the suburbs, the urban core, or the neighborhood to have an off-grid experience in lovely landscape of the rural rolling hills of mid-south with a private 17 acre oasis along the Buffalo River (90 miles SW of Nashville, an hour west of Columbia, TN and hour north of Florence, AL). Explore an array of environments from the habitats for 12 free range hens on organic feed and our crew of miniature and standard donkeys with foals in 2018/2019, to pasture land with a bamboo grove, raised bed garden and fruit trees, a forested area with an artist studio (pottery will be offered in 2019) and 16 more rare breed beautiful, and sometimes funny, chickens born mid-July 2018. Take a hike on our slice of Tennessee beauty where you leave the farm animals to meander thru a forest into a large field with interesting botanical discoveries all on a bluff above the Buffalo River. Weather permitting and seasonal access down a trail to the river bed to discover river rocks and see the water flow. This is a safe place to let the kids explore, play, experiment, learn from happy accidents on a quest to become wonder wanderers. Instill a sense of wonder in children of any age or rekindle that in adults. Teach kids to wander - to love the sense of mystery, discovery, telling stories, to nurture curiosity, to become navigators in all aspects of life.


  • visit once a week, once a month, or other arrangements
  • small group size preferably no more than 8 kids at any time. not an entertainment complex, but a creativity retreat.
  • no phone zone for the kids, a place for you to withhold technology in this off-the-grid exploring opportunity. phones only for camera. wifi password only for special purposes.
  • access the natural environment a total of 17 acres with trail to the Buffalo River from bluff, to the donkey pasture, to bamboo grove, to garden zone, to forests and field. explore on your own or with Val as your guide.
  • interact with the camp animals. no way to get bored when you are watching chickens or petting donkeys or sitting with the cats.
  • unscheduled experience. take a nap in a hammock or the yurt, wander thru the field and look at flowers, collect fallen leaves or rocks or sticks to make art, watch the clouds, listen to birds, make up stories, climb a tree, tinker and build a tree house or other woodcraft project.
  • assist in daily life at the camp farm. help collect eggs. feed the chickens, cats, donkeys. provide the kids with a physical active-learning experience by participating in volunteer chores while they adventure such as picking up sticks, raking, seasonal gardening or prep for gardening, watering flowers, make signs for the trails.
  • art activities. no skill level or age limit. range in time, scale, and scope depending on your customized camp experience. emphasis on hand-craft, exploring in nature and responding to that interaction thru art. from collage, to drawing, to watercolor, to tinkering, to more advanced: stories into books with simple bookbinding, lessons in photography and design. future offerings will include pottery, paper-making, candle-making and more.
  • optional to let the kids wander with supervision under Coach Val while the adults use the time for crafts in the main lodge - bring your knitting, scrapping, quilting; or learn something new from collage to photography and more; or draw/color, read a book or take your own much deserved nap. let's discuss!



I would really love to work with you and your family to help provide memorable experiences with nature, animals, and art.

here's a bit of my background

  • Started babysitting at the age of 13 for multiple families until graduating high school

  • Was a Girl Scout until the age of 17 before senior year, earned Silver Award

  • During Girl Scouts went to summer camp every year starting around 4th grade. I learned to sail, canoe, fish, primitive camp, sing songs around campfire and on hikes, took first aid classes, made crafts, cooked, cleaned and discovered value of participating in a team. live by the Girl Scout motto and leave every place better than you found it.

  • In high school, worked during at least 2 summers as camp counselor at local school and JCC.

  • Was selected to be one of 8 girls in State of Florida for a wider-opportunity which happened to be during my 16th bday. We spent 3 weeks with 2 leaders who drove a big van from Orlando to Wyoming Girl Scout National Center West property and back. Stopping at such places as Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, white water rafting on the Colorado River, and staying in such places as a Quanset hut on a military base.

  • Became a nanny for several families during college in St. Augustine, even assisting one mom during days so she could manage her household chores

  • Became a Girl Scout leader after graduating from college for a troop that had no leader in downtown Orlando, some of the girls were low-income and would not have had the opportunity if my friend and I had not volunteered. We did this for 5 years until I moved away. I coordinated our weekly meetings and worked with girls from 2nd grade to high school. We went camping, canoeing, venturing. I also worked to coordinate a council-wide camp event for about 200 girls.

  • Moved back to St. Augustine to teach at my alma mater and started graduate school 75 miles away for a 3 year program. Was a nanny for 2 of the previous families, and baby sitting for some of their friends, as one of my part-time jobs during grad school.

  • Interacted with college students as a teaching assistant during graduate school.

  • Started teaching graphic design at the college level as a full time career path in 2000. Worked with 100s of students from 2000-2018, receiving tenure in 2012. Worked with majors and non-majors. Acted as advisor to student club. Coordinated numerous field trips and travel experiences for day trips and overnight. Traveled to numerous conferences with students, nationally and internationally into Canada. Coordinated a study abroad to London winter 2007 and to Japan winter 2013.

  • Discovered the term Millenial in 2001 when I couldn't understand why students cried over grades lower than an A such as A- or B+. It was recommended that I read "Millenials Rising: the Next Great Generation" by Neil Howe and William Strauss published in 2000. This was eye-opening and the life-changing impetus to change my teaching methodology from professor to coach.
    According to the authors and the research on generations these are the dates associated with each 20 year timespan that can be affected by the society at large.

    • veterans 1924/26 - 1944/46

    • baby boomers 1944/46 - 1964/66

    • generation X 1964/66 - 1984/86

    • millenials 1984/86 - 2004/06

    • generation next 2004/06 - 2024/26

    • (my thoughts about this below)

  • Resigned June 2018 from the tenured associate professor position teaching in some capacity since 1995 with many years towards retirement age eligibility for lots of reasons including:

    • became increasingly disillusioned with the high price of college and the barriers of access to an education, especially in my discipline of graphic design

    • recognizing that the cost of an official degree in graphic design far outweighs the salary range that has stalled for the last 15 years or more

    • morally and ethically opposed to part-time labor in adjuncts responsible for the primary and majority of course offerings, especially in light of the overall costs to attend, and my limited ability as the only full time faculty to interact with our majors some never taking a class with a full time faculty required to have higher degree and higher employment retention standards than adjuncts

    • seeing firsthand the results of teach to the test mentality, combined with helicopter parenting Millenial phenomenon (see the book I mentioned), and the advent of smartphones over the last several years especially on the students aged 18-22 in how they can manage or resist outright methods to teach them critical thinking skills, resistance to working without a definitive strict guidelines preventing a comprehensive problem-solving approach to creative process, the increase in blatant cheating and plagiarism, addiction to technology, and an overwhelming amount of students experiencing anxiety on a regular basis impacting their ability to even attend classes including test anxiety.

  • Why I started the creativity retreat center:

    • I no longer believe that it's beneficial to attend college for anything related to art or design, due to the rapid changes in society and technology. I want to provide families with an alternative as well as be a sounding board as you make those difficult life decisions.  I want to break down those barriers to an education and be a part of creating learning experiences for a new generation.

    • to reach young people in the natural world not the isolation of a college class

    • to be a coach and mentor providing access to design, photography, and other craft for those who may not have access in their school or to be a tutor for those in home school or virtual school

    • to share my creative philosophy with young people and families to help impact the next generation providing memorable experiences in nature

    • to establish an off grid experience where one can learn the very important skills of wonder and wander as one matures to manage life's lemons and navigate how one interacts with the world around us.

    • to have an animal sanctuary type space because animals are great and therapeutic too

    • share my love of creativity that is enhanced by a relationship with animals and natural surroundings

    • to encourage handcraft and be a teacher without walls


there is a landline phone for emergencies.

this camp is easily accessible on a well maintained state highway not off the road for miles on gravel.

Val is certified first aid.

Food not included but space to eat and prepare.

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© 2020 Wonder Wanderful Enterprises, LLC.

Camp Wonder Wander

599 Gaither Hinson Rd.

Waynesboro, TN 38485


voice: 931.321.3520     text: 931.213.1901