What’s Newest!

11/19/17 – Story of the Day with ReWilding Families

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Photo: Vashon Beachcomber

How amazing that the rain held off until after our program time! A big welcome to our new families. To the families who weren’t able to join us yesterday, we missed you, and look forward to your return — hopefully next month!

Our day was an adventure into the life of salmon, into our interwoven world — and the incredible way in which Salmon feeds so many — the creatures of the ocean, the animals, trees, and more of the forest and stream, as well as ourselves! During the course of our time together we experienced the difficult life of the salmon in a game called “Salmon Upstream” in which salmon attempt to swim upstream without being caught by Bear in the water, and River Otter and Wolf on the shore! Once tagged a salmon nourishes the the animals, water, and forest, and the person tagged ceases to be a salmon but becomes a tree in the water, providing pockets of safety for other salmon heading up or downstream …. What other hazards to Salmon face during their lives, birth to death, in river and in ocean? How might a salmon evade capture? What senses and abilities does a salmon have that allow it to survive to return to its birthplace — to then spawn and to die? How does a salmon find its way home? A wonder question for you to explore with your family in any way you please: “What inside us ‘knows the way home’?'”
Salmon are spawning in our island creeks! Our location provided us with a wonderful opportunity to not only explore and wander a beautiful forest, but to discover if we too could spot a salmon. We learned the importance of listening, moving quietly especially near the water, and of being still with our senses open. We learned about what we might look for when hoping to see salmon (alive or dead!), and the importance of staying out of the water (in order to protect the eggs and salmon). Then we had the opportunity to practice salmon watching as families — sitting and perceiving in a place by the creek for 15 minutes, just as the salmonwatchers do when engaging in salmon research on the island.
Even without spotting a salmon (though one family did see some!) there was plenty to notice and experience in that forest, and plenty that you all did notice, whether you realize it or not!  A fun thing to do might be to go back to that time and place with your family.  You might take a moment to say: “Remember how yesterday we …” walked into that forest full of big leaf maples and evergreens, watched those big leaves from so high above … heard the rushing sound of the creek, felt the soft leaves under our boots  … Just bring yourselves back to that place and time to whatever your family chose to do.
Whether you sat by the stream or enjoyed time exploring the forest you can ask yourself and your family these kinds of questions: what did you experience? What caught your attention? Can you recall the smell and feel of the air? What were the sounds? What feelings within you arose? 
We humans have the amazing ability to perceive on many levels. You may all discover that you recall more than you might think! Not only that, and you may uncover something rich in your experience that speaks especially and uniquely to you.
Whether you were able to join us yesterday or not, you can practice this kind of exploration of experience with your family. When you’re next outside together, or after a Thanksgiving gathering — or any time you share that feels connective, you can gently bring yourselves back into that moment and memory, and open your senses to what you might have noticed without realizing it. Let yourself to be gently inquisitive, and invite that in your family. Be relaxed and playful with the notion, and see what you all discover together.

11/16/2017 – Story of the Day – Coyote Kids Meet Deer

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Our last Coyote Kids adventure was a day for exploring Deer. Imagining ourselves in the mind and form of Deer, we headed out into the woods. We discovered mushrooms sprouting, a vibrant plant world, and plenty of water — tiny streams, and larger, and a very full pond! Along the way we found secret places right near the trail in which to, like deer often do, “ghost and hide” when hikers passed by, and we followed a deer trail that led into dense foliage. Your children met the challenge of making their way over and under brush, transforming into raccoons at one point to help them along, and working with balance, coordination, and perception to make their way through this natural obstacle course.
Games helped us explore the world and perceptions of the Deer. In one, children as Cougars stalked others of us as Deer. The challenge of the Cougar was to move quietly and to freeze when the Deer looked up. The challenge for the Deer was to hear the movement and catch the animals in motion. Deer’s eyes located on the sides of their head help them perceive subtle motion and have a wide field of view, but are less helpful in sensing dimension, especially when you blend in (as a cougar might) with the landscape.
What did it feel like for your child to be a Cougar? A Deer? Which did they prefer, and why?
Another game we enjoyed was a silly one, called Sleeping Fawn. In the early weeks of its life, a fawn will often lie alone in a secret place while its mother grazes nearby. If someone or something comes near, the fawn’s quick heart rate will slow, and the fawn will ‘freeze,’ remaining motionless while whatever ‘danger’ is near. Because a fawn has little scent, they can escape detection from predators. In this game trickster Coyote guesses that fawns might be in the area. He then displays silly antics trying to trick the fawn into revealing itself by laughing!
With Deer being a wild animal that we often see on the island, we have so many opportunities to expand into a widened experience of the nature right outside our doors, and to explore what it feels like to be at home within the land as the deer are. May you and your child enjoy these gifts that Deer offer us!

11/10/17 – Story of the Day – Guilds with Fire Tenders

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This Friday, we celebrated life with a beautiful day on the land at Camp Sealth! We kicked it off with a story from the instructors introducing a fantasy world where there are 4 main characters that have specific skills that they contribute to their village. This set us up for splitting up into 4 guilds that we will focus on for the next couple of meetings. Here are the four groups and what they did:

Hawk (Phoenix Guild) – Phoenix’s focus is on fire and shelter. To start the day, we learned how to identify the western hemlock and practiced looking around the landscape for these magnificent trees for they provide us with some of the best flammable small kindling that you can find. As we explored the land we collected hemlock “wispies” and learned a technique to dry semi wet materials  – put them against your body and dry it up with your own body heat: we stuffed ourselves full! We later brought these materials back to our Fire Tender community to share for the year. Other things we worked on were shelter basics, lighting a fire with matches and a lighter, and the basics of using a hatchet. 

Ted (Plant Guild) – My guild encountered the new “road” cut through the forest along with stumps and tried to show respect for the plants and landscape that was injured by using what materials we could find, like incredibly old huckleberry for digging sticks, or even trying to replant an entire uprooted fir tree. 

We puzzled over the morphological differences in the same species, talked about how some plants go into hiding along with their medicine in the ground through the winter, and talked about our love for and experience with making medicine with plants. We were watched over by a Barred Owl while we conspired about what to do next with plants. 

Ariana (Art of Wandering Guild) – The focus of this guild is to learn about intuition and navigation on the land. This clan began at Rainbows End and went on a quest out to find a hidden message in Hartman meadow. We expanded our awareness to begin making a mental map of our landscape. We encountered a deer that bolted from the tree line. Preformed the lost lest through a thick section of forest and rounded back silently to the Labyrinth Fire pit. At the end of the day we made a wheel mapping the four directions. 

Willow (Mammal Tracking Guild) – The group transformed into cougar who are slow and quiet and freeze when spotted in order to sneak up on Willow who was peacefully browsing on huckleberry twigs. Later they studied the track characteristics of some animal families – rodents have 5 toes on the hind feet and 4 in the front while cat and dog family members have 4 and 4. Over lunch they brainstormed  questions they had about Camp Sealth residents: “are there apolodontia here?”, “where are there bird nests?”, “where do the deer most like to hang out?” and then they headed out to search for answers. They found that the deer like to walk on the new logging road and poop a lot in the meadow. Ok they already knew the last one. Also they found a very interesting marking on a tree that Willow was very excited to see!

Looking ahead , we have one more time to meet before a small break. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

11/10/17 – Story of the Day – Deer Abound at WG

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Something very unusual happened last Friday — the Wind Gatherers and their instructors all turned into deer!
We’re not exactly sure how this came to pass. Maybe playing a game of Ninja, in which a blindfolded child must rely on hearing and other senses to tag others in the circle, or maybe following a challenge course through the undergrowth (one child even did this blindfolded!) had triggered this transformation.
It might have been the way we used our “storytellers mind” to become deer. Our joints loosened, fur with hollow hairs grew over our skin, our fingers and toes fused into hooves, our faces lengthened, and our ears grew.  Suddenly the world was full of sounds that told us so much about who else was in the forest and what was happening around us, and the plants became just about everything to us!
We listened to the quietest sounds, near, far, in every direction. As we wandered down trails we plunged into the best hiding places that lay just alongside the trails — mere feet from “oblivious” humans strolling by. Some of us followed deer trails that led to some serious bushwhacking. One group discovered Boneland, and the mysteries there. What is the skull that lies in Boneland? What are its teeth like? If your child saw the skull, do they think it was an herbavore, carnivore, or omnivore? What do the eye sockets tell you about the animal? Do the bones seem to indicate that this was a recent death or that it happened awhile ago? How long ago?
Other children resumed their human forms to create deer beds, dragon bunk beds and fairy shelters.
The day ended with all of us back in human form, but if you look and listen carefully, you might discover that your child still has a bit of Deer about them!