What a fun-filled autumn day in the forest! Thank you for being a part of it. This is a brief “story of the day” to reflect on some of the day’s highlights and adventures. We will send one to you after each program so you can get a taste of the moments and memories from the day and can discuss some of the activities with the participating member(s) of your family.
The morning started with many welcomes, introductions, and reconnections as we met at the forest gate. After we had all arrived and all had the chance to reconnect with instructors and friends, we gathered as a group and headed into the forest where we found a spot for a big group game of Hawk and Mouse Tribe! The mice and hawks all worked together as teams for a full and fun game.
We then came together in our first large circle to welcome everyone and to each share some gratitude and our names with one another, before breaking to enjoy our snacks. During snack, Jenna told a story about a boy named Stalking Wolf, a Lippin Apache who received his name because he snuck up on a wolf and touched him. When Stalking Wolf was older, he traveled all around North and South America learning and living with Indigenous peoples. He learned an immense amount about how to live closely with the earth. He had a dream about finding his last and final student. He traveled to New Jersey where he found Tom Brown Jr. He taught him for the next ten years and, before he died, told Tom that he would know his next student because he would be carrying the world on the end of a string. Driving through town one day, Tom came across a young boy who had a snapping turtle on the end of his fishing line! Tom knew this was his first student, Jon Young. Tom spend the next 10 years mentoring Jon, including teaching him how to make Snapping Turtle soup! When Tom was older, he started a school called the Tracker School and Stephanie, another Soaring Eagle staff, went there to study with him. When Jon was older, he started the Wilderness Awareness School and Jenna went there to study with Jon. When Jenna grew up, she started Soaring Eagle Nature School and now everyone who comes to Soaring Eagle is a part of the lineage of Stalking Wolf and Tom and Jon.
After being reenergized and refueled with Jenna’s story and our snacks, we then broke into our smaller groups to go exploring some more!
Jenna’s group (filling in for Klara): we headed off into the forest and found a spot where we all sat down and picked our nature names. Everyone was excited and happy to receive theirs. Then we headed off and found a spot where we turned into mice. We had to collect Alder leaves and store them, but could only collect when the owls were sleeping. When the chickadees sang, it was daytime, but when we heard the owl calling, we had to hide by a tree. We did some exploring and then ate our lunch, which tasted better in the forest. When it started raining harder, we looked out for spots in the forest where we could take cover and tested how dry each spot was. Some were totally dry, some had just a few drops of rain coming down. We talked about what animals and insects do when it rains. We wandered to another spot in the woods and everyone found a stick. Everyone was excited about watching Jenna carve them. She safely showed everyone how to take her knife out of the sheath, and how to carve away from her body. The group did NOT actually go through knife safety and haven’t been permitted to use their knives yet, but have had a really good introduction. Thanks for a great day!
Kristen’s group (filling in for Tom): we went on a wander through the forest, where we explored and found some interesting things. We found fascinating objects in trees that looked like a birds nest, and we found a tree that was covered all over with little holes. We examined the tree, and asked many questions such as: what could have made these holes? Why are the holes evenly dispersed on the tree? We also learned about different plants in the forest on our wander. We learned how to identify sword ferns, and we even found some licorice fern that we got to taste, and were surprised that it did in fact taste like licorice! We learned about some sneaking and hiding games, such as camouflage and warrior stalk, and we played these games as we wandered along the trails in the forest. When it started to rain a bit more, we rested under the cover of a tarp. While we were under the tarp, we all received our nature names in a special naming ceremony. At the end of the day, we met up with the other small groups and played an epic game of raven spy, where we used the sneaking and hiding skills we had been practicing all day.
Kaylie’s group: we started our time together with a wander. Following our intuitive body radar, we chose a direction down the path, keeping our eyes open for beings we recognized. In particular, we kept our eyes open for plants that we saw — which of these plants are edible? could any of these plants contribute to a “forest tea?” We practiced our plant recognition and tuned in to our surroundings, testing our skills by playing “camouflage” and “you’re safe if” along our path. After wandering a ways, we came to an open area where we stopped and decided to tap further into our forest awareness. Some people can identify birds and other animals just by the sounds they make — can we do this too? can we identify who is where in our group just based on what sounds we make? We each took a turn working on this skill, as well as learning each others’ names, by being blindfolded and trying to listen to our group members make various forest animal sounds to guess who was who. After breaking for lunch, we started another game, “Watchtower,” where we continued to build on our silent moving and awareness themes. Kristen’s group joined us as we were starting to play and we included them in our game as well — creating one epic watchtower challenge. While we were playing, we saw some other signs of nearby life too and paused our play to watch a small mammal busily run nearby (maybe a mouse of some kind?). After spending some time working together as a large team to hide and move across the forest, we left Kristen’s group and went to find some final ingredients for our forest tea. Along the way, we discovered some more nature paint and other pieces for camouflage, inspiring us to try to blend into the forest with our camouflage costumes before sneaking back to meet the other groups for a final group game of “Raven Spy” with all of the groups. After this large group game, we took a short break to hear a story about the power of names, taste our tea, and receive our own nature names for the year. It was then time to head back to the park gate and reunite with our families. Thank you for a wonderful time today — I’m looking forward to a fun year ahead!
For next month, we invite all of you to learn two cool facts about your nature name that you would like to share with your group.
Thank you for spending time with us in the forest this week and here’s to a wonderful year ahead! We hope you all have a wonderful month and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
All the best,
Jenna, Kristen, and Kaylie