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WildPlay Co is a nature immersion service providing children of the Greater Bendigo region the opportunity to engage with the natural world through wild, nature play. I am Courtney, and I founded WildPlay Co to meet a need in our area for programs that both celebrate the beautiful bushland that we are surrounded with and promote the healthy development of children. 

WildPlay Co provide child-led and inquiry-based programs that focus on self-directed free-play intertwined with direct instruction in riskier play activities and outdoor skills such as safely using tools, fire and bush cooking and rope play. It is our belief that play is the work of the child and our team foster this by observing play, offering guidance when asked and making the most of any spontaneous learning opportunities that arise. We often learn alongside the children in our programs.

Our term-based programs run from multiple wild locations throughout Central Victoria including private land and public nature reserves. We cater to babies and toddlers in our nature playgroups, pre-schoolers in bush kindy and school-aged children in our homeschool program, not to mention the parents and carers who benefit from the community that is invariably created when you bring like-minded people together. Although we do offer casual sessions, our term-based programs are our flagship offering as they allow children to develop a meaningful connection with nature over time while increasing resilience, building confidence, and mastering skills.

One of our core values is honouring the land on which we play and learn on, Djaara country. We begin each session with an acknowledgment to country which the children actively participate in as they learn the words and actions. Our team regularly discuss what it means to care for country and we and learn about Indigenous culture through written and oral storytelling. We embed Indigenous perspectives throughout each of our programs with the materials and resources that we use as well as paying our debt to First Nations peoples by purchasing these resources from authentic First Nations businesses. We are a relatively new business however, we are committed to developing long-lasting and meaningful relationships with Djaara by attending community run events and inviting local First Nations Peoples to join us at our sessions.

WildPlay Co programs provide opportunities for people to access nature immersion in a way that works for them, however unique this may be. We are inclusive and invite all people to attend our programs regardless of age, race, religion, gender or ability. We have partnered with local organisations to offer subsidised nature immersion sessions for the community removing the financial barrier of attendance.

Our team consists of beautiful souls who respect the natural world and have made it their life-long mission to share this love for the environment with younger generations. They are mentors and guides who share WildPlay Co’s vision for celebrating and sharing the learning experiences of the children who attend our programs. Our team are uniquely qualified Nature Playworkers from a variety of backgrounds including Education and Wildlife Conservation. Furthermore, our core team are trained Bush Kindy Leaders and meet regulated industry standards in regard to First Aid, child safety and staff to child ratios. Our team meet regularly for practical skill reviews including how to keep children safe during supervised risky play activities and emergency management.

At the core of what we do, is a deep level of respect for the natural environment and an understanding of environmental sustainability. These principles are not only embedded within our programs through learning about local flora and fauna, how to protect habitat and only taking what we need but also extend to business operations including decisions we make about the types of materials and resources we use and our footprint on the land. Respecting ourselves, respecting each other and respecting the land are the pillars of WildPlay Co and we are honoured that we get to share or love for the natural world with the little ones who will be looking after this Earth in the years to come.

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