The Daredevil's Club and Alevin Explorers met at Galby Lane for a day filled with games, connection, and skill building. The mentors got to the location a little early to set up a game of epic proportions! Walking out of the woods to meet the arriving Explorers the mentors arrived at a traffic jam in the parking lot. Galby Lane is a tricky drop-off location and for future games days it might not be the best spot. Ushering the Explorers into the woods the two groups circled up to bring some intention for the day. The mentors explained to the group that this was not only a time to celebrate and play together, but it was a time to come together and recognize that they are the two oldest groups in the Boys EC, and this means that the rest of the groups are looking to them for guidance and inspiration. They are now holding the culture and it will be their skills and adventures that help decipher future outings and curriculum for the younger groups.
With this intention in mind we made two circles, one inside the other. The outer circle moved around the inner in sort of a speed dating fashion. In one-minute intervals we introduced ourselves and shared our favorite experience from the summer. It fills our cups as mentors to know that so many of the Explorers are getting out on adventures with their families. It is easy to infer from the Explorer’s stories that this time away from their busy schedules and free from distractions is vital for their health.
Once we finished our meet and greet we broke into our groups and had an opening meeting for the season. Dave and Tim gave the Daredevil’s a basic introduction into their skill for the season Fire by Friction. Passing around a fire kit the Explorers got acquainted with the materials they would need and Tim demonstrated the process with his own homemade fire kit. Simultaneously Steve and Peter told the Alevin that they would be revisiting shelter building as their skill for this season. The last time the Alevin worked on shelter building was the fall of 2012, and they were eager to revisit this important and life saving skill.
Circling back up the mentors went over the rules to the epic game we had set up, Life and Death in the Forest. In this game each Explorer is given a role: carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. The goal of each group is to survive a round within a designated time period. Throughout the course the mentors set up food, water, and medicine sources. Each of these sources had a pencil with the type of source and abbreviation so it could be documented on the “stomach” card they each carried. Every animal role was given a specific number of food and water sources that they needed to find in order to survive. The catch is that they also have a limited number of lives represented by rubber bands. Omnivores and carnivores can eat herbivores, and carnivores can also eat omnivores.
Life and Death In the Forest is an exciting mix of stealth, camouflage, naturalist knowledge, chaos, hunting, hiding, and adventure. Right before we were about to start Matt Fogarty sprung up from behind a stump! It was an awesome surprise to have him out to play a round with us. I should also mention that our first Explorers Mentor Apprentice for the season, Logan Bartz, came out to volunteer. The mentors would like to offer up some thanks for Matt and Logan for donating their time, hearts, and skills. During our first round the group was divided into half herbivores and half omnivores. Of the half that were omnivores, one-fourth were given the role of carnivore. Giving the herbivores and omnivores a head start we began.
There are not many words that can describe the feeling you get when you are a herbivore that is being chased by a predator. The Explorers soon found themselves ducking and diving under Sword Ferns and nurse logs, hurdling themselves over obstacles as the hungry teeth of the carnivores bit at their heels. The forest would go silent for a little while the animals gathered their foods sources and then all of a sudden the forest would erupt as the hungry carnivores ambushed the herbivores and omnivores. After all was said and done we circled back up to debrief the round. It turned out that most of the herbivores did not survive. The carnivores did not fair well either, except for Matt Fogarty who ended up with seventeen rubber bands! The omnivores did quite well but the Explorers had to face a tough question, “With the health population of omnivores and the demolished population of herbivores what would happen the next year?” The Explorers came to the conclusion that the balance of the food chain was thrown off and the effects would be seen throughout the food chain in the next year.
Deciding to play another round we experimented and let anyone be any type of role they wanted. The numbers came up five herbivores, two omnivores, and the rest carnivores. Needless to say after the second round only two animals survived. It was an exciting experiment none-the-less because most of the herbivores were mentors.
Tired and sweaty we cleaned up the game and traveled over to a location to work on some skills building. It was powerful to watch the Explorers look so comfortable and at home as they worked side-by-side carving Alder spindles for their fire kits and building Earth shelters. The rest of the outing flew by and before we knew it was time for a closing meeting.
Forming a circle the Explorers gave thanks as we passed around some apples. Although their thanks were heartfelt and meaningful, what was really powerful was to watch the complete and utter focus the group gave to each person as they shared their thanks. Their growing maturity and respect for each other, the Boys EC culture, and the land is inspiring and it was such pleasure to share the circle with them. We ended the day with an adaptation of a story told by Dave about how Coyote stole fire from the firekeepers and how fire found its way into wood. The mentors would like to thank all the parents and family for your support over the years. It is such an honor to share an understanding, community, and vision with your families.