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An exclusive nature-based and homestead immersion with college-level graphic design and art experience
residency camp for teens in mid-south Tennessee.

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This dynamic and fun learning environment in the form of a residential summer camp workshop was developed by a former tenured graphic design associate professor who has left academia after more than 20 years of interacting with college age students with the belief that design education should be taught at a younger age as technology and social media has advanced the recognition of aesthetics and interest in d.i.y.


Why wait until your junior year in college to begin developing your design voice?

This program is very different than pre-college offerings at universities. Here you can hug donkeys! It's a disconnection experience in a rural location, just under two hours drive SW from Nashville, with farm animals (chickens, peacocks, donkeys, cats, dogs, and 2 cute rabbits), and a variety of landscapes as the setting. With a maximum of eight teens in each session, they will receive true one-on-one coaching to dive deep into learning about graphic design. All projects and other art related creative workshops have a nature-based and/or sustainability theme.


They will start the week with a guided Forest Therapy walk in the beautiful landscape where senses are engaged and the focus is on the present moment. Participants truly learn how to disconnect in this NO phone zone and discover themselves as they engage in an array of creative activities formal and informal and dabble in homestead activities such as gardening or animal care.

Dates (Stay for one week or two):

July 9 - 16

July 16 - 23



In this heart-centered, compassionate, secular, and joyful place, individuals may begin to understand that we are Human BEINGS, not Human DOINGS.

Young people need to know that they are more than just grades, that they are more than just a part of a bigger system out of their control, and that they are more than just users of tech / consumers of media.

Val, the founder and primary 'camp counselor' instructor, is passionate about helping them to forge their own paths as they learn:

endurance from bamboo
resilience from wildflowers
harmony from 'weeds'
tenderness from donkeys
individuality from feathered friends
delight from fireflies
calmness from water
patience from dirt
energy from compost
power from fire
and wisdom from trees.



star-gazing in one of the best spots in the state of Tennessee



Create art and traditional craft using natural objects that you forage on the land.



Camp starts with a guided Forest Walk experience to engage all of your senses.



Discover more about edible flowers, foraged items, gardening, and eating healthy.



Understand the cycle of life as you wander through the land and see the garden grow. Use materials saved from landfill or littering the environment. Forge new friendships.



Fall in love with chickens and learn how you can shift from Mass-Ag production chain to local sourcing including your own backyard.

Organic Compost


Learn about composting and the general waste impact on the land. Use upcycled materials in projects. Discover ways to reduce your personal environmental footprint.

"Expect three main benefits from nature: restoration, contemplation and inspiration. All of them are crucial for creative leaders. Nature restores us. It gives us physical and emotional health—when it comes to stress relief, breathing fresh air is as close to medicine as you can get. Being in the mountains or near the ocean directly affects our health in a good way. After just 20 minutes in a natural setting, our levels of cortisol, which is a stress indicator, decrease significantly." for the full article click here to read "The outdoors prescription: how nature ignites creativity" by Kate Inglis

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

At Camp Wonder Wander, participants will be in nature or close to nature in the dwellings or studios, not industrial buildings or clinical computer labs. Val witnessed firsthand on a daily basis how college students were tied to their digital devices and she wanted to create a space that allows people to look up at the sky as often as possible, rather than down at devices or in virtual reality realms. This starts with a guided Forest Therapy walk and is reinforced in activities including bonfires.


A highlight of camp is spending time with the donkey crew - Pepper Patrol.



Channel the calmness of water and the peacefulness of life away from modern hustle.



 The refreshing water of the Buffalo, the sounds of birds and sights of fireflies are just a few of what you'll find.



Improve critical thinking, creative problem-solving and a visual expression by advancing your observation skills.



The basic language of design is all around us and by spending time in nature your sense of understanding these will increase.



Graphic Design is more than just an aesthetic or using digital tools, it is about creative problem-solving and that is what is emphasized here. Learning about happy accidents not failing is key!

Forest Therapy

what is Forest Therapy?

The Forest is the therapist and your host - main camp counselor and instructor, Val, is the certified guide. Have you heard the term "Forest Bathing" or "shinrin-yoku"? This nature immersion process was developed in the 1980s when the Japanese healthcare system recognized an increase in health problems brought about by the intensity and demands of an urban work environment. They conducted much research with focus groups being given different treatment plans and found that the group that spent time in nature and their indigenous forests had increased benefits. They also discovered that trees emit "Phytonocides" which helps to increase NK (natural killer) cells in humans who are breathing and absorbing that air.


This is a slow guided walk where you disconnect from technology and time in general to focus on the senses while you observe the surroundings in the moment.


What motivated Val to become a certified Forest Therapy guide?
She has been to Japan seven times over a period of 9 years with the most recent trip in May of 2019. Each experience was a cultural immersion in place whether a guiding a group in a study abroad or a personal discovery on sabbatical for 5 weeks, creative immersion research in 2 or 3 week increments and even participating with the Manjiro Society and Grassroots Summit for a home-stay in the small village near Nara. The impact of seeing and feeling a society that embraces the natural world was an impetus to founding the retreat center and becoming a certified guide. ANFT, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, is an international accrediting organization that has developed their own standard practice inspired by the Japanese.

Here's another resource from PBS – Windows to the Wild episode.


Watercolor Painting
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a more detailed agenda will be provided closer to the event


Some of our group meetings will be in the main living room of the Lemon Lodge, pictured above, with a lot of graphic design and art books ready for eager eyes. As reading and research (as well as writing) are very important to the graphic design discipline, you'll be asked to do some preparational summer reading before arriving at camp. 


Before camp, each participant shall read and be prepared to discuss the following:



COLLAGE - Val teaches collage as the fundamentals of design and composition are aspects of using found elements emphasizing the design elements. This is also a coaching practice where she gets to know how each individual approaches problem-solving.


NATURE JOURNAL - In your camp swag kit, you'll receive a lovely little journal of waterproof paper for journaling natural encounters. Why Nature Journaling? Nature Conservation Way of Life | Rewards of Nature Journaling

ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY basics - In your camp swag kit, you'll receive a modern version of the instant camera starter set so that you can experiment with this medium. We'll also create CYANOTYPES which are the original photographic process where light sensitive paper exposed to sunlight will develop into a blue color except where an object is laid blocking the sun. Using natural found elements we'll learn about the process and embrace happy accidents.

FINE ART (drawing/watercolor) basics - You'll receive a basic set of tools and paper for this workshop taught by camp counselor and artist-in-residence TBA.

GRAPHIC DESIGN PROJECTS - will include understanding research and thumbnail sketching in the design process and creating visual solutions without digital tools. We'll work on basics to more advanced projects based on the skill level of each participant with each participant also receiving one-on-one coaching. Design projects are focused on nature themed and sustainability issues. They may include experimentation with up-cycled materials or found natural material for example in the study of typography.

COOKING & GARDENING - participants will get involved in meal preparations and impromptu cooking classes as a life skill and learning how to follow information leading to a solution. Gardening will help them learn about the various needs of the garden and explore trials and tribulations as we nurture the spaces daily.

Camp Life
Camp Wonder Wander has a total of 17 acres in the Western Highland Rim region of middle Tennessee with about 500 feet of frontage on the Buffalo River. This is an area that has little light pollution - part of the reason to read the short book by the Japanese philosopher on modernism and artificial lighting. As often as the weather permits, we will have evening campfires.

Don't fret you won't be 'roughing it'. Campers and counselor will reside in the Lemon Lodge where most inside activities will also occur. The accommodations are dorm style, but an upgrade from typical campground cabins. The Lodge was originally built in 1930 and has undergone some additions and upgrades over the years. The room assignments include a loft room with 7 twin beds and a private room with a king and a twin with ensuite bathroom. Campers will be assigned spaces with consideration to gender and if necessary, one group may reside in the Raspberry Residency House for a bit more privacy and oversight.
As a integral component to the experience, campers will be required to participate in meal activities and other duties that will be assigned on the first night of camp using the scouting tool of a 'kaper chart'. Campers will experience a variety of tasks on the land such as care and feeding of the animals, collecting eggs, and gardening.
Campers primary physical activity will be walking on the land. Shenanigans and unsafe physical outbursts are not acceptable, but we want each person to feel they have the opportunity to gaze at the clouds and stars, and indulge in wonder wandering. The river is on our doorstep, but river activities besides observation and walking in are not included in this program. During breaks, campers may request permission to swim in the river and should notify adults on site of this activity and be accompanied for that excursion. At least one staff is certified in Wilderness First Aid.
If you have questions before registering, please contact us today.



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What's included in the program fee?

7 nights dorm style lodging (+applicable taxes)
healthy food for all meals
and all activities including:
- Forest Therapy guided walk
- tour of the camp and interactions with animals
- campfires
- collage workshop
- nature journaling instruction
- photography worksh
op including an instant camera & cyanotype paper
- watercolor & drawing basics workshop (tbd)
- Graphic Design Projects over the entire week including one-on-one coaching
- workshop supplies

care package on arrival day includes:
- camp water bottle
- camp T-
shirt (size ordered after registration)
- Instant camera Fuji brand starter kit (camera is yours)
- journal with waterproof paper
- basic set of colored pencils and watercolor set
- tote

Must purchase reading material prior to camp (not included in fees)

maximum 8 participants per session

1 WEEK PROGRAM (registered before June 15) : $2,799
+ processing fees

(register after June 15: $2,999 + processing fees)

  • Sun, Jul 09
    Camp Wonder Wander
    Jul 09, 3:30 PM CDT – Jul 16, 12:00 PM CDT
    Camp Wonder Wander, 599 Gaither Hinson Rd, Hohenwald, TN 38485, USA
    A nature immersion and graphic design intensive for a week in rural mid-south TN at Camp Wonder Wander creativity retreat center with a maximum of 8 participants.
  • Sun, Jul 16
    Camp Wonder Wander
    Jul 16, 2:30 PM CDT – Jul 23, 12:00 PM CDT
    Camp Wonder Wander, 599 Gaither Hinson Rd, Hohenwald, TN 38485, USA
    A nature immersion and graphic design intensive for a week in rural mid-south TN at Camp Wonder Wander creativity retreat center with a maximum of 8 participants.
Q & A

WHY this camp? / ABOUT the Founder


The camp was founded by Val after more than 20 years as a college professor witnessing students having many difficulties managing all of the things that were being thrown at them from personal to academic. Since early 2020 and through the pandemic, Val has been a remote academic tutor assisting students in challenging environments that were exacerbated by the pandemic. The variety of educational systems is daunting and it's quite sad that there is so much disparity. Immediate access to grades is a dopamine hit created in the 24/7 world where young people can't put it aside to learn for learning sake not to mention the hit on the psyche of whether or not you are good at anything. Being forced to sit in a classroom that is still primarily a technical experience from screens in class or the digital classroom can be boring and therefore excruciating. If it feels like torture to a witness, it must be a significant challenge for the individuals.

The itinerary in this camp experience has been created to give a nurturing experience on the land, with the animals, with food, with creative activities, and personal interactions with the participants and the artists/writers-in-residence that are offering their expertise in a variety of workshops.

As a former Girl Scout earning the silver award, a former Girl Scout leader for 5 years in her early 20s without children in the troop, and a former 20+ year tenured graphic design professor with a coach style,Val has a mission to help young people find themselves in a safe place in our roots as people. She believes that we should all embrace the qualities and attributes of Wonder and Wander.

Please note: Although inspired by Japanese Shinto, Camp Wonder Wander is a secular, non-religious affiliated place. At Camp Wonder Wander (Wonder Wanderful Enterprises, LLC.), we value all people as unique individuals, and we welcome the variety of experiences they bring to our nature immersion space either as a participant in a retreat or residency or a guest on the land. As such, we have a strict non-discrimination policy. We believe everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, national origin, native language, religion, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, genetic information, pregnancy, or any other characteristic protected by law.


©2022 Wonder Wanderful Enterprises LLC.


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