To paraphrase a story that Tim told us:
“One man builds a big fire and stands away from it. He gathers a lot of materials and it gets really hot. The other builds a small fire and sits close by. He needs only a little bit of fuel at a time to keep it going.”
Daredevil’s Club Explorers chose the latter, deepening their connection and relationship to their growing skill. Throughout this outing, boys garnered more skills in the Fire Journey and put them immediately to use. They kept a vigil over the fire, feeding it fuel as more was needed, and safely breathing air into the waning embers. Their firekeeping skills are excellent as their attention and care kept us warm for three and a half hours.
Two boys identified Vine Maple (Acer circunatum) and got new bows for their bow drill kits. The same two guys found a larder of “fat wood” which proved vital for the fires. Many boys made excellent nests, from bark of cedar, soft and inviting enough to catch sparks and coals. We even de-seeded Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) buds and used the fluff for our nests. We practiced using the bow drill kits as well as a magnesium kit to start fire.
We considered the morals of firebuilding too. Like last outing, we recognized that fire can create and destroy. It is a tool like our knives and computers. It is our discernment that will help us to use those tools wisely. We must practice the art of discernment always, in addition to the hard skills of carving and making fires by friction. Mentors feel pretty good that boys got the point-- every moment is a chance for us to practice being responsible and caring. They have the power to create and destroy so they had better stay focused on what is right action at any given time. There are still many adults who have yet to recognize this.
These boys are not afraid of hard work or difficult decisions. In fact, did you see the hill from the parking lot? Yeah, we started the day by going straight up it… and the equally long and steep one behind it! Atop the ridge, under the power lines, we learned a subtle lesson of how to be properly dressed for ascents and rest times. If we sweat too much then our base layers get wet. We can get cold really quick if we do not bundle up after our climbs. In fact, many people suffer from mild hypothermia atop mountain peaks when cold winds and sweat combine to steal our body heat.
But as the chill began, we sauntered into the woods and found a great forest opening to spend our day as we engaged with fire and morals. Fortunately, there was an adjacent landscape on which to play a couple of rounds of Spider’s Web too :) This outing had it all: skills, leadership, relationship with the land, games, community-building, and challenge. How cool! Please see more pictures of the outing in the photo gallery.
Here’s a big thank you to Jake Strich, my brother, for making the journey to Bellingham (from South America) and surprising me to staying the weekend with us. Your participation and volunteering with the Daredevil’s Club was particularly special because I had the chance to share two years of my life with you. Thank you for being a good mentor for the Explorers and integrating so naturally into our community. Undoubtedly the boys enjoyed seeing us together and more so that you laughed and played games along with them.
As we remind the boys, it is important to have a strong beginning, a strong middle, and a strong end. The easy-going-ness of the outing felt like a perfect ending to a good season- which included games and mentoring a younger group to service at our Boys EC restoration site, and a solid foundation into the gamut of skills required making and keeping fire.
And for me personally, this outing provided a nice culmination of two and a half years of service to this program. Though the future is uncertain, there is a strong likelihood that my time as a mentor in the Boys Explorers Club is over. If that were the case, I would be happy with how this last outing went. I saw the boys dictate their experience and grow along the edges that they need to stretch in order to become whole people.
I’ve seen them grow so much in the past two years; I’m thankful to have been a part of their lives for this small sliver of time. Thank you Daredevil’s Club families for the opportunity to serve as a mentor for your boys. It is truly an honor.
The Fall Season celebration (scroll to the very bottom) will take place on December 6th from 4:30-7:30pm. It’s an optional outing and many are scared of the cold and dark but we’ll have a fire to keep our community strong and warm. Enjoy the winter!