One of Fynn’s greatest loves was being outside and exploring. Unstructured, outdoor play fostered his imagination, creativity, self-confidence and independence. We feel compelled to remember Fynn by supporting kids getting outside and exploring nature.
The proposed Treetops Community Forest and associated trail would contribute to children’s physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being by providing a natural outdoor learning experience for students and the greater community. As well, the Treetops Community Forest would support and enrich classroom-based learning by providing a setting for hands-on, experiential learning across the curriculum.
Your donation will help towards the acquisition of the Treetops Community Forest, so we can create a nature trail that will simply be called Fynn’s Trail. It is our hope that this trail will help to foster the imagination, creativity, self-confidence and independence of kids for generations.
To help you get a better sense of Fynn and how much he loved exploring nature, we would like to share this story with you:
Fynn wasn’t exposed much to nature in his first few years of life, having been born in the desert, but he made up for it when we returned to Canada just before his 2nd birthday.
His first experience with Canadian nature was during our first trip home in July and August when he was 9 months old. Because he wasn’t yet walking or crawling, we could put him down and not worry about him disappearing anywhere. One beautiful breezy day, we placed him in a laundry basket under a white pine tree, overlooking the lake. He sat there, silently, mesmerized by the wind in the whispering pines, the cool breeze on his cheek, the song of the sparrow, all of which he’d never seen or heard before. He sat there quietly and happily all afternoon.
When he wasn’t playing with Lego, he could usually be found outside, no matter the weather. You see, nature, play and his imagination were inextricably connected. He was fascinated by science, nature, seasons and transformations. One day, unprompted, he said very seriously, ‘Mommy, let’s climb a tree and be caterpillars.’ On another occasion, excited by the sleepover at his cousin Zev’s house, he was too wound up to get into his sleeping bag. Nana said, rather cleverly, “It’s like a cocoon. Crawl in, and you can be a caterpillar.” He snuggled in, delighted at the idea of being a caterpillar. In the morning, he came downstairs and told everyone he had transformed overnight into a beautiful butterfly.
Fynnie was a great lover of sticks – they were his swords, javelins, bows and arrows, magic wands and his Lego Chima power. He’d often cry over lost or broken sticks and he couldn’t be settled until another, suitable, stick could be found. We coined the phrase ‘Fynnie time’ because if we were travelling anywhere by foot, he was either running or skipping ahead of us, or lagging behind, lost in his imaginary nature games, usually with a stick. There was really no in between. It was always full steam ahead – “Race you to Foley Beach” or lagging behind, lost in his imaginary world.
Fynnie knew the woods around our home like the back of his hand. He loved drawing maps, from a bird’s eye view, of our home and the surrounding woods. Depending on the day and his mood, the maps would change, but they often featured: his favourite rock by the creek for after school snacks; his favourite fallen Beech tree for hide and seek; his favourite tree to climb and his favourite hill for bum slides in the winter.
He loved science, he said, because he learned new things. There’s a well-loved Science Experiment book in our home, and choosing an experiment to conduct was a favourite summer past-time. One of his more recent favourites was using dye from a red cabbage as an acid indicator. We must have tested every item in the fridge, in the cupboards and in the pantry. His desire for learning and curiosity about how things worked was insatiable.
Fynn was in constant search of treasure. His ideas about what he wanted to be when ‘he grew up’, as with most young children, fluctuated like the water levels of Georgian Bay. Most recently, he wanted to be a treasure hunter. We even had to partake in practice treasure hunts before going to Belize so we were ready to find treasure when we got there. In very early March, he dug a hole through the snow and down into our septic bed. That’d be some nasty treasure if he actually kept going… Fortunately for all of us, the ground was still frozen.
But it wasn’t just gold and pirate treasure he searched for. The lakes, streams and forest around our home were equal sources of treasure – natural treasures. Fynn collected his ‘treasures’ and stored them in his nature treasure box. It contains all of his favourite treasures from nature: crawfish pincers, acorns, special rocks, feathers, shells, bits of beehives, fish bones, birch bark, butterflies and a snakeskin. When no pirate treasure was to be found in Belize, he told us he wanted to be a herpetologist, or in his words, “I want to study snakes.”
When Fynn and David were out exploring the woods in April, he was doing what he loved best. Meandering the woods on Fynnie time, looking for treasure. We know he’s found it.
We greatly appreciate your support of the Fynn Bywater Outdoor Explorers Fund.
Sincerely, David Bywater & Meg Wallace