Island Center Forest is such a treasure on Vashon, with varied ecosystems from swamp to forest, dynamic terrain, flourishing birdlife and diversity of flora. FIre Tenders were thrilled to be back at one of our favorite haunts.
We began with an old favorite, Blindfolded Ninja, which teaches spatial body awareness, quick reflexes, intuition, and emphasizes hearing over sight for one of the players. This day however, something more was needed. What if we combine Blindfolded Ninja with elements of another favorite, Nutty Squirrels? How did this change the game? Was it more fun? Harder? Maybe your Fire Tender has an opinion. We’ve noticed over the years, that Fire Tenders are very good game designers and reviewers and often have valuable suggestions or feedback to make games more fair, more challenging and more FUN!
Since this was our first field trip of the year a primer conversation on park etiquette was in order. We’ve also been noticing that some of the students have gotten into the habit of talking at very loud volumes when conversational levels would be much more enjoyable, so we had a request for the students to find ways to channel their fiery energy into different expressions including large body movements. We will continue working on this in the future.
The park offered a wealth of exploration and a game of Nature Bingo drew all of us into deeper awareness of our environment. Did your student get a Bingo? Of course it’s prime mushroom season, and some students learned to take spore prints. Have you tried it? They’re beautiful! Just put a mushroom cap face down on a piece of black or white paper. Light spored mushrooms show well on dark paper and dark spores show well on white. Great for positive identification! Some students melted into the understory unseen by the standard denizens of the park. Another group challenged themselves to not speak and timed themselves to see how long they could go. Everyone made it for at least 30 minutes. How long did the longest non-talker go? How did they communicate about the fascinating world around them without speaking? I don’t know but somehow the students learned edible and medicinal plants, and even not to eat the seeds of the rosehip. (why not?)
Most of the group met in the beloved Valley of the Firs for another favorite: Capture The Flag. But in this CTF, no human language was allowed and there were dangerous predators who were drawn to the noisy people. Don’t worry, they only pretended to eat them. Each Fire Tender selected an Honorable Opponent to challenge them (how did they do this?) and in debriefing the game the Fire Tenders again demonstrated their genius for game with ideas of how to make more fun, dynamic, and fair. Isn’t that cool? What a great life skill!
We finished our day all together again with the invitation for anyone who wanted to do an interpretive dance (tiny impromptu skit) for the group of their favorite part of the day. Sometimes they used “props”. Seeing so many of the students eagerly hop up to accept this challenge to act in front of their peers told us that they are feeling safe and invited to be themselves in front of their peers. That’s pretty awesome. It was a celebration of the work they’ve done this fall, welcoming the new students, making new friends and learning to be kind and inclusive with all, and forming a solid identity and belonging as Fire Tenders.