These four themes seem to follow the Grey Fox Kits from outing to outing. Whether diligently working on the art of shelter building or exploring the hidden niches of fun forest hideaways, these Explorers are constantly aware of the elements. More than any group, the Grey Fox Kits are focused on the present moment; their awareness skills have grown so much and they are just starting their fourth season!
Much thanks go out to Jake Ray who stepped up as a mentor for this outing. He has joined the Grey Fox Kits and other Explorers club groups before, but he took a day off from studying for finals in order to be a mentor with us when one of our team was sick. Thank you for joining us on this outing, Jake!
After last season, boys were not soon to forget the importance of keeping their eyes out during and after wind storms. We started the day a bit hesitatingly as boys observed the wind and trees, nervous about any falling widowmakers. This reverence and respect for the natural world is invaluable. Though they may have started off the outing frightened, they came into their own as they settled into their outdoor home in Larrabee State Park.
Spring brings with it a new life that we observed in the fruiting mushrooms and sprouting Indian Plum. Even Stinging Nettles were popping up after a dormant winter. We also learned about the life inside of dead trees or snags. Though they can come crashing down and be destructive, these same trees hold the power of life. Indeed boys learned the term, “Fatwood” and are starting to recognize that decomposing stumps hold fire! Even the snags, especially the Red Alders which are most prone to falling in windy conditions, harbor tremendous amount of firewood and bow drill kit spindles and hearths.
We didn’t get into the art of fire with the Grey Fox Kits, as they have much to learn first. But they are definitely excited to learn and practice their earth skills so that they can progress to learning that art. This season, they’ll consider the art of harvest- this includes edibles that we’ll find later in the season in addition to that of wood for shelter, fire and carving. And speaking of carving, boys have already begun to express their interest in edged tools and it seems likely that they will start the Carving Journey in the fall (perhaps flirting with it in the summer).
Explorers monitored the trees and settled on a safe forest nook to eat lunch. From there they found a swampy meadow and insisted on clambering through mud slicks, nettles, salmonberry and trailing blackberry to get to a downed bigleaf maple in the middle.
We then discussed ethical harvesting as licorice fern root became a focus of many an inquisitive hand! Boys were keen to harvest this plant but only one was patient enough to open the plant identification book and make sure that it was a safe idea. Though this is an edible plant, we have to change our behaviors to make sure that we don’t harvest without knowing exactly what we’re harvesting!
A short jaunt into the forest led us to Explorer-high sword fern. Organic shelters were built, Elven palaces discovered, and inclusiveness became a theme. We played countless games of Hide and it’s clear that these Explorers are getting better and better at the art of camouflage each season!
We hiked up the hill for a final adventure and came to two huge glacial erratics on the hillside. They formed caves in which Explorers didn’t hesitate practicing the art of spelunking! Mentors cautioned boys about climbing atop the boulders, however, because they were slippery but a couple of boys slid down the rock faces.
Though the boys were unharmed, they took out mosses, lichens, and licorice ferns along the way. Part of the responsibility that comes with the Art of Harvest is learning how and when to amp down the exploration and adventure feelings. These boys are in the perfect place to begin distinguishing when and how to balance fun with responsibility.
After having paused for nearly four hours the rain began to fall again while we held closing meeting. We gave thanks and started the long downhill walk to the parking lot, grateful that the wind and rain gave us a small window of time to explore and have a rad outing.
Thank you Explorers for stretching your edges and grasping the nettle. You are definitely growing into a cohesive and caring community! Thank you parents for your support of these boys and this program. We appreciate your letting wet Explorers into your cars!