Our first outing of the season began with a bumpy bus ride out to the far North end of Lake Whatcom. Being the watershed for our drinking water in the city as well as one of the least populated parts of the lake the foothills of Mt Stuart are an exciting place to explore. Crisp Fall weather, leaves changing, new mushrooms, clear skies, and excitement can all describe our first Fall outing with the Red Tailed Eyas.
Our earth focus for this season is the art of shelter building. A shelter is not only protection from the elements and a safe place to spend the night, but also a way to connect with the land and learn how the forest really does have everything we need. After arriving via stubs we quickly unloaded and began the search for both a good spot to build a shelter and any materials we could gather along the way. We began asking ourselves basic questions about shelter building; What do we want close to our shelter? What hazards should we watch out for in a potential shelter building site? What debri would work best for insulation? We soon decided on an open spot not visible from the main trail that had good amounts of debri and no dead trees or branches that could fall on our shelter. Explorers sawed away and found branches to use as supports, beams, and ribs. At first it was only a few explorers interested in the shelter building process, but as we lay Douglas Fir branches over the main structure more explorers joined in. We had a solid hour with most of the explorers really focused on gathering debri. During this time the shelter grew from just a pile of sticks to a structure resembling a home. We were all surprised by how sparse the debri was this time of year, the Red Alder and Bigleaf Maple leaves have not fallen yet, limiting our debri gather to last years decomposing duff. After about an hour we had a solid foot of debri on our shelter. Steve and I then shared with the explorers that a dry and warm shelter should have at least three feet of debri on it. The explorers decided to give it another fifteen minutes of hard work before calling it a day on the shelter. We were all pleased with our Shelter and took turns crawling inside to see what it would be like to sleep in.
Lunch, games, hiding, Wheres my egg?, hiding in the shelter, Hide!, Crawling on old stumps, Spiders web, laughter, dirt, exploration.
After this we marveled at how invisible our shelter was from a distance and packed up to head toward the lake for some afternoon sunshine. At the lakes edge the boys took an immediate interest in carving. They all showed excellent focus and craftsmanship while working with their knives. Inspired by some beautiful spoons and chopsticks that Steve had showed them earlier in the day they boys worked hard to perfect their own knife skills. We did have one cut finger that was an accident and had nothing to do with misuse of a knife. The boys all showed a lot of compassion and concern for their fellow explore. The experience turned out to be a great learning moment on the seriousness of using a knife and continue to practice good knife safety.
With time running short we all quickly made our way back to stubbs for our trip back into town. With no time to do a proper closing circle we shared apple slices and some thanks in the bus. The Red Tailed Eyas were such a great group to work with, they are obviously very cohesive as a group and really showed a lot of focus and good work. Their focus obviously lies more in the art of carving rather than that of shelter building so our focus may shift toward that more as the season progresses. Explorers thankyou so much for a great outing and parents thank you for trusting us to bring back your boys safe, muddy, and happy at the end of the day. Make sure to check out our photo gallery for more photos!