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03/10/2018 – Shelter Building with Forest Trackers

i Mar 13th No Comments by

It was a beautiful day on Saturday as the Forest Trackers met at Wrangler! Our morning began with a few different games including awareness-building “Flinch Master,” the fast moving “Foxtails,” and the altogether fun “Oh no! I’m Poop.”

After much play, the Forest Trackers met together to sing a song, speak out their gratitude, and share nature updates from the past month. When asked about signs they had noticed alerting them to the arrival spring, the Forest Trackers excitedly created a long list: new buds, daffodils, hatching turtles in Hawaii, nettle shoots, chickweed growth, more sun, and miner’s lettuce.

Ari told the story of the spring she became a turtle mother while rescuing eggs and doing research on snapping turtles in Acadia National Park, Maine. Excited to continue searching for signs of spring, the Forest Trackers split into choice based groups. Steph led a native plant wander. Her clan stopped to observe, sketch, and learn new species. All members of the group made it down the to beach and back-up–an awesome and challenging trek that provided great views through a variety of forest habitat

The remaining Forest Trackers learned about essentials to survival and the importance of  making shelters when lost. We traveled about to find a good shelter site with an abundant supply of sticks and leaves and split into four groups to create. The Forest Trackers began by building a skeleton made of a long ridge pole with many rib sticks. One group experimented with their design using stumps than Y-sticks to prop their ridgepole off the ground. Another group used two ridge poles to create a wide shelter that five people could sit under, and one group choose to build a shelter in a tree. With a strong foundation set, the teams interlaced hemlock whispies and downed branches, and began piling up leaves. Debris is important in creating a shelter that is warm and dry. Leaves, pine needles, and sticks provide dead air space for body heat to get trapped and keep all inside warm. The tight debris huts were built to keep two to five people warm and dry and needed over two feet of leaves to get the job done. The students pulled together to collect all they could while still taking moments to snack, talk, have fun, and notice signs of spring.

At the end of our day, all the students climbed into their shelters to endure a “rainstorm”. Over two water bottles were poured on the debris shelter and not a single head, toe, body, or nose got wet! The clans came back together to share skits and play a final game of Nutty Squirrel.

We hope your Forest Tracker had a great day exploring.

03/02/2018 – Magical Nature with Wind Gatherers

i Mar 9th No Comments by
Spring brings renewed energy and much excitement, as we, like the natural world of which we are members, warm and open after snuggling in for the winter. So it is among the Wind Gatherers! We’ve been together for nearly half a year, and your children are in a new place — with themselves, with each other, and with the beautiful and generous land that is Camp Sealth. We love how they have come to care for each other, helping each other out, and how at home they feel in the forest. 
There’s also a quality to the day emerging that is just magical: as we’ve all grown accustomed to the rhythms of our time and with each other, we’ve entered into something organic. At times  the children or the moment will often suggest something that we have on our lesson plan before we even speak it! Or some event even more amazing comes along, and our plan becomes a springboard. I love when that synchronicity happens, and we can just turn our lesson plan over to nature and to your child’s inquisitive bright nature! This to me is something I experience more and more often with the Wind Gatherers as Spring unfurls.
This past Friday we entered the world of the birds! Did you know that the birds have a language that we can understand? That the birds let us know what is happening in the landscape around us? They act as “on location” news reporters (in fact, even as I type, I hear the strident call of one of my ducks, letting me know that she’s unhappy about some creature that may be prowling — not close, but a little distance away. Cat? The other poultry aren’t alarming so I’don’t think it’s Raccoon!)!  
In Jen and Jane’s society, Jen told a personal story of how listening to the language of the birds led her to discover a prowling creature as well — and more! Does your child recall what the birds said, and how they led her to make discoveries?  
This past Friday was Visit Day, and, in addition to our human visitors (thank you for joining us!) we had a mouse visitor at our fire circle! This mouse scampered about the edges of the circle through our nature news updates and through Jen’s story! You can imagine that our tiny visitor caused quite a lot of excitement! Can your child make the shape of the mouse in their hand? How long was the tail? Was the mouse all one color, or more? And if more, where was the other color(s)? What were the ears like? Can your child become the mouse and show you how Mouse moved and scampered? Some of the kids wonder if our visitor was Jumping Mouse, from the “Jumping Mouse” story we heard before break!
From there we headed out into the world of birds. Turns out that the birds had written a mission for us on a Salal leaf! The first mission was to shapeshift into our favorite birds, and then find a nest-like place where we could sit in a circle. We did so, and ended up at Mossy 6, where we completed our mission by sitting quietly with bird seed in our hand for 5 min. and listening for bird magic. Magic did happen indeed, as that peaceful quiet of Sit Spot descended, and your Wind Gatherers listened and observed and did small things for not 5 but 7 minutes! What was the bird magic your child discovered?
We ended up in Hartmann Meadow with Joanne and Rachel’s society to play a big group game, Jays and Chickadees! Was your child a Jay or a Chickadee? What were the strategies they engaged with to either get and keep their food, or to steal it? 

March 10th 2018 – Winona LaDuke and Honor the Earth

i Feb 26th No Comments by

Please join us in welcoming internationally renowned activist, environmentalist, and farmer, Winona LaDuke to Vashon!  Enjoy a festive evening with live music and an uplifting talk by Winona LaDuke and local indigenous leaders to raise money for her organization, Honor the Earth.  

Winona is an internationally-acclaimed authority on indigenous environmental justice issues, which she balances by leading on-the-ground initiatives that support restorative economies, land rights, renewable energy and local food systems. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch, Winona has lived and worked on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota for decades, and was a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.

Honor The Earth Fundraiser with Winona LaDuke

March 10th at Open Space for Arts & Community

Main event starts at 7 pm; doors open at 6:30. Tickets are $25/person ($15/students/seniors)

A special reception with Winona is at 6-7. Tickets are $150/person.

Tickets available online here and at Vashon Bookshop.

02/16/2018 – What did the eagle see at Fire Tenders?

i Feb 22nd No Comments by

What a beautiful day on the land we had! If an eagle flying over Camp Sealth had looked down it would have seen many wild and wonderful things!

On Friday, the oldest clan had a sit spot while checking in with the land, the plants, and animals. Is this a good place for a shelter? The natural canopy of hemlock trees clutching the remains of nurse logs certainly seemed so. But what messages do we receive from the woods when we stop and sit and listen?

Maybe we have thoughts occur to us, maybe it feels like it comes from elsewhere. Maybe an animal calls out at an auspicious moment or after a particular comment. And our humanness tends to love that sort of thing. Also, what do we notice with our eyes? What is the history of this land? How fragile is that nursery log? Can it handle foot traffic? Are there any rare species or microclimates nearby? What resources are close by to build with? How much will we impact this space by building and playing and learning here?

The oldest clan took this to heart and made maps and lists, of everything they could put a name to that they could see. And the verdict: yes!

In the exploration and building to follow, so much magic was found. Red capped lichen towers galore, cedar snags, ferns and a beautiful canopy was built.

Under that canopy, we spoke of challenges and each of us took one upon ourselves. Maybe they can be done alone, maybe we’ll need help. Maybe you’ll hear about it. Maybe you won’t and it’s already happening!

Another group of Fire Tenders set out with Hawk to wander and explore. They observed signs of spring such as nettle coming up and new salmonberry shoots. They had a fantastic time doing some parkour training off trail down to the beach and climbed back up the hill in record time, taking in and breathing energy from the trees.

The remaining Fire Tenders were busy at work creating a debris shelter. After traveling about to find a good shelter site with an abundant supply of sticks and leaves, the Fire Tenders began building a skeleton long ridge pole and many rib sticks. With a strong foundation set, they interlaced hemlock wispies and began piling up leaves. The tight debris hut was built to keep three people warm and dry and needed over two feet of leaves to get the job done. The students pulled together to collect all they could while taking moments to notice signs of spring and perch up in a few trees. A few brave Fire Tenders climbed in to endure a “rainstorm”. Over seven water bottles were poured on the debris shelter and not a single head, toe, body, or nose got wet! Many were inspired to continue building shelters and to sleep out at the end of the year!

Other highlights of our day included a hilarious game of Oh no! I’m Poop!, a wonderful story of Rabbit’s Inner Song, and deep questions that were shared so open-heartedly!

We hope your Fire Tender had a expansive day and is now enjoying their mid-winter break adventures!