This week’s adventure took us out to Lake Wyola where the boys were presented with a challenge. Upon arrival at the boat launch they were given their rafts – several piles of two by fours, boards, drills and screws. Breaking up into teams, the boys used their previously acquired skills in fort building to construct two pontoon-style water crafts that they would then captain across the lake.
After lunch on the water, the two rafts split off for separate adventures. One group went and explored the far side of the lake while the other stayed more local and checked out the marshy area. One boy reported seeing around eight turtles by the end of the day.
The boys also found a small island which hosted a fairly active river otter scent post. Otter island, as it was promptly named, was quickly claimed by the Wild Hearted Boys. From what the boys were saying, the island would currently have a flag on it had there been one available. It is unknown how the otters feel about this.
Throughout the day the boys sang songs, invented sea-faring battle chants, fished, got soaking wet trying to catch turtles, ambushed each other on the high seas and took turns captaining their respective rafts. Come the days end, we efficiently deconstructed our vessels the way we made them. Hopefully all the boys will have regained their land legs by the next time we meet.
Last session, the Wild Hearts enthusiastically continued work on their woodsy fortress. This week our carpenter friend, Tibor, helped us finish up the fort’s walls and prep the structure for a roof. What was most exciting about this session, in addition to the work we all put in to making this fort happen, but what has begun to spring up around the structure.
Immediately upon arriving at our work site, several boys began to clear out a small area of forest floor and demarcate it with standing sticks. As fort construction continued, the small fenced area began to fill up with all manner of edible plants – transplanted by boys who had learned about them from previous sessions.
The wild-crafted gardens didn’t stop there, once the first plot of land has been filled with blueberries and huckleberries a second plot of land was made for smaller, low crawling, medicinal plants. Small scout teams were assembled and equipped with burlap bags and shovels to venture deeper into the woods with and retrieve a variety of less common specimens.
During their scouting missions, the boys also learned how to safely use bows and arrows, wandering through the woods and picking targets for each other along the way.
In many ways the Wild Hearted Boys program has begun to take on a life of its own. As the boys have become more comfortable with being in the woods they have also started taking ownership for the spaces that they have made out there, the gardens being a great example of this.
Needless to say, as the summer approaches the Wild Hearted staff is looking forward to seeing what other roots the boys decide to put down on the land and within the group.
This iteration of the Wild Hearted Boys brought our long-awaited dreams of fort (or rather – fortress) building to fruition. With the help of professional carpenters and handymen, Jason and Tibor, the boys learned the importance of building a foundation, how to use a skill saw to cut wood and the safe and effective use of hand saws, power drills, hammers and other such tools.
By the end of the day the group had collectively constructed the fort’s foundation and four walls using a creative assortment of lumber and pallets. Our volunteer handymen were excited to work with the boys and will be joining us again to help us put a proper roof on our new home away from home – after which we can breathe some life into our new structure with a fire pit and whatever other additions the boys choose to contribute.
One of the benefits of our new fort location is that we are surrounded by an abundance of wild edible plants. Our older participants, Deer and Raccoon, spent a portion of their afternoon gathering fresh wintergreen berries. Our end of day count was purportedly 128 berries! There was even talk this week about starting our own wild edible garden out in the woods.
Looking back on the last ten weeks it is hard to imagine that the spring session is already half over. From the staff’s perspective the group has really come together as the boys have added new traditions to the program, discovered new friendships and really worked to make this a safe and spirited space for everyone involved. The boys have built a solid foundation for each other over the last five sessions leaving the staff excited and optimistic about what the rest of spring has to offer.
As the weather gets warmer it is important to watch out for these diminutive arachnids. Ticks carry a whole host of life changing diseases, including the Connecticut Valley originating Lymes disease, that can be easily prevented. Below is a link to the CDC’s website on ticks and Lymes disease where you learn some useful information about protecting yourself during your outdoor adventures this summer.
This week’s iteration of Wild Hearted boys brought new (and unexpected adventure) to our motley crew. After traveling through the back woods of Leveret, racing stick boats off waterfalls and learning how to navigate with the assistance of a topographic map, the boys reached their destination – the Rattlesnake Gutter Caves!
Although you are unlikely to find the “Rattlesnake Gutter” cave’s namesake animal, we did have the surprise of meetinga live porcupine and enough discarded quills to fill up a small tupperware.
After lunch, with helmets and headlamps, the boys delved deep into these local caves, home to our previously met porcupine friend. Crawling through the ice and mud they wound their way underground and even discovered a new section of cave previously unknown to either Coyote or Chickadee!
Here are some highlights from last Saturday’s adventure:
There is a growing body of research indicating a connection between time spent in nature and the management or mitigation of ADD and ADHD symptoms. We happened to run across an abstract on Pub Med of a paper that indicates just this. Although this is not the full paper it does, in brief, outline the conclusions of the study in question.
Check it out: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18725656
As an outdoor professional I see the effects first hand of time outside in the children I work with. Almost universally the children that come to my programs with attention deficit labels demonstrate an incredible capacity to engage with and learn about the natural world. Being outside seems to calm and focus children who have trouble staying put in the classroom and give them the opportunity to receive the high volume and variety of environmental input that they are predisposed to processing well. For these reasons I perceive these “disorders” as strengths out of context.
If you are interested in reading more about the relationship between our children’s development and contact with the natural world, check out Richard Louv’s book: Last Child in the Woods http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/
The third Wild Hearted Boys session has come and gone! This week the boys came together to construct their “Code of honor”- a group generated document outlining their agreements about how they want to treat each other and be treated by others within the program. Every participant at one point during this process had the opportunity to present their ideas, stand behind their opinions and be heard by the group. Instructors Coyote and Chickadee were left proud by how articulate focused and mindful the group was throughout the whole process.
After lunch the boys set off into the woods where they were met with their first one-match-fire challenge. Participants brought forward all levels of experience to share with their teams from knowledge of right kinds of tinder to the skill and practice using matches. Squirrel, one of our older boys, brought forth an incredible amount of leadership in assisting his peers in successfully making their fire and Red Tailed Hawk modeled incredible patience and commitment as he struck his first-ever matches in preparation for his role as fire-lighter.
During the last part of the afternoon the boys tied in to a safety rope and were able to climb over thirty feet up into one of our old beech trees. The day ended with our customary appreciation circle and an impromptu table, chair, bottle, drumming session.
The second session of Wild Hearted boys started off with a warm welcome to two new members of our group, participant Squirrel and instructor Crow. Crow brought a number of valuable tools with him, teaching us lessons about starting primitive fires with nothing but friction and the value of compromise which we had the opportunity to practice when designing our secret group flag. The children gathered together to co-create their group symbol which they later brought out to our new campsite out in the forest to display proudly over their home away from home. The boys were also introduced to the ‘talking stick’ as a tool to help them listen to each other and have their voices heard by the group throughout their creative process.
Coyote brought forward his background in swordsmanship to teach the children about responsibility, honor and respect. Throughout the day the boys were able to challenge each other to single combat using foam swords under the supervision of an instructor.
Highlights from this week include a precursor to knife safety instruction and workshops on how to properly use hammers, saws and screw guns. Children took turns using a hand saw to practice cutting so they will be prepared to clear a small area for their campsite. As the winter storms roll in we will all be working together to fortify our shelter from the snow, wind and rain.
"The class I attended, called “Inner Quest”, immediately sparked my long, buried interest in not only the structure of a story, but in the way all of the famous stories from long ago and today grasp at a deeper, almost subconscious, since of humanity and our emotions. In the sessions they provided, it was amazing to learn about things like: what an archetype really is, and why so many stories, at there core, are so similar, as far as morals and character trials go. I was very happy to join the Adventure In Adventure Out team during the sessions that they offered. It gave me a chance to delve deeper into why I love the stories that I do, and how I can use the knowledge of story structure in my own personal writing."
- Member at North Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens