Wild Whatcom Blog

Saturday
Jul192014

BEC: Cascadian Explorations Camp No. 1

A full week of exploring is hard enough to remember let alone recount within the confines of a screenful of paragraphs. How could one possibly transmit the smell of the sun on the shore pines, the feel of a waterfall cascading on your head, the excitement of tasting your first trailing blackberry or thimbleberry, the suction of thick mud around your legs, the electricity pulsing through your being as you meet a three-day old seal pup on the shore? Where, amongst these 26 letters is the heat of the day, the breath of the trees, the moisture of the lakes, the gentle south wind, the sting of a mosquito, the thrill of sneaking and chasing, the music of a thrush?

In Explorers Club, we have a practice of reminding ourselves of the events of the entire week during our final meeting. We do this because there is so much goodness in Exploring, and each of these experiences is fully worthy of being reinforced so that they can become a part of us and guide us as we grow with the world.

When asked to remember the events of the week during our closing meeting, Explorers shared a wonderful collage of memories: many games of Hide!; introducing new Explorers to the 100 Aker Woods; learning about plantain; our first game of Spider’s Web amongst the cedars and sword ferns; Ripple through the Forest; Our many chances to have a good Sit Spot; seeing how to make a bow drill and a hand drill fire; being introduced to sticks as tools, and laying the foundations for our future journey with carving and knives; the seemingly endless run along the mud flats out to the water; digging in the sand; the challenge of being safe in full exposure to the sun; discovering our seal pup friend and learning how to take care of them; the Earthkeeper’s Den with the giant metal buoy; Where’s my Egg; mud mud mud!; bull kelp; an adventure to a new place at Lake Padden; meeting baneberry and oregon grape;Bees and the Hive; learning a lot about how to create fair play and good relationships in our group; swimming in Lake Padden; introducing foundations of map reading; Scrambled Eggs; doing so much good earth keeping; exploring the stream; meeting tons of frogs; learning about being lost and what to do; finding our way to the falls; Exploring the waterfall and the surrounding boulders; finding our way to a good Sit Spot place and some good rounds of Hide; recognizing one another, the land, and the magic of the whole week; enjoying one another's company and giving thanks.

This Explorer could add volumes. This camp was rich and rewarding for all involved. Each mentor expressed delight at working with this group of boys. Challenges were there, and they were skillfully transformed into powers as the days went on. Pictures are, indeed worth a thousand words. Experiences are worth ten thousand pictures. So, if you really want to know what this Explorers Camp was like, get out there with your Explorer and have him teach you what he has learned. Not just the information, but the games too. Go out and get dirty! Be a kid and play a few rounds of Hide! Actually rub your hands in mud and touch that frog. This Explorer could (and will upon request) give you all kinds of very compelling physiological and psychological research data that will convince you of the benefit… but do you really need it? This earth is our medicine and we are the sum and the quality of our relationships. Relationships are built by showing up and paying attention. Have your son and the landscape be your guide. Get out there and Explore the magical and vast wilderness of your own back yard.

Enjoy Pictures of our outing by visiting our Photo Gallery.

Monday
Jul142014

Wild Whatcom Hires New Executive Director

Dear Wild Whatcom Community,

Two months ago we announced that we were starting the process of hiring a new Executive Director. We want to share the exciting news that Emily Barnett Highleyman has accepted the position and will step into the ED role starting July 14th. Emily has a long history with Wild Whatcom and is passionate about the organization and its mission. She has extensive non-profit experience, and is deeply rooted in the Bellingham community. We feel so fortunate that Emily is bringing her energy, creativity, and talents to Wild Whatcom. She is excited to collaborate with Wild Whatcom staff and community as she leads Wild Whatcom through its next phase of adventure and growth. Please join us in giving Emily a warm Wild Whatcom welcome!

With gratitude,

The Hiring Committee

Sunday
Jul132014

BEC: The Salish Sea Camp, July 2014

A full week of exploring is hard enough to remember let alone recount within the confines of a screenful of paragraphs. How could one possibly transmit the smell of the sun on the shore pines, the feel of your first experience carving into green willow, the excitement of getting close enough to a bald eagle to be able to see the feathers near his feet, the suction of thick mud around your legs, the electricity pulsing through your being as you hold a red legged frog or a newt? Where, amongst these 26 letters is the heat of the day, the breath of the trees, the moisture of the lakes, the gentle south wind, the sting of a mosquito, the thrill of sneaking and chasing, the music of a thrush?

In Explorers Club, we have a practice of reminding ourselves of the events of the entire week during our final meeting. We do this because there is so much goodness in Exploring, and each of these experiences is fully worthy of being reinforced so that they can become a part of us and guide us as we grow with the world.

When asked to remember the events of the week during our closing meeting, Explorers shared a wonderful collage of memories: many games of Hide!; navigating Whatcom Falls Park; finding a dead shrew on the trail in learning about these fascinating mammals; discovering the strange spontaneously grafted tree; an epic game of Spider's Web; meeting our Explorers Club EMA, Soren; finding fish and frogs; stalking deer; eating berries and learning new plants; swimming in the lake; meeting the challenge of fitting everyone on the Pine and Cedar Lakes sign; skillfully backpacking to Cedar Lake; carving with so many different types of wood; discovering newts and nymphs and carnivorous plants; a very challenging Spider's Web game; having an opening meeting in a tree; running for over a mile along the tide flats; standing in the middle of the ocean water; seeing herons and storks and eagles and crabs and flounder; learning how to sharpen knives and cut greenwood; lounging and enjoying the freedom of summer; discovering the Earth Keeper’s Den and creating a new game; mud mucking all the way to our destination; piling into Stubbs and being a part of the bus breaking down; games under the shore pines by Sunset Boulevard; parents to the rescue; setting up camp; navigating the big field; discovering the deer beds; finding pockets of trees and water and learning what indicates them; enjoying Hovander Park; learning how to take charge and work as a group to scout an area and find a desired location; service with the knotweed; Burritos!; Setting up tents; the quiet night walk with a green heron flying overhead; the calls of coyotes and great horned owls; the slap of beaver tails on water; the harvesting ofswamp gas and the ghostly blue flame; morning oatmeal; a new game inspired by the osprey and the tower; enjoying one another's company and giving thanks.

This Explorer could add volumes. This camp was rich and rewarding for all involved. Each mentor expressed delight at working with this group of boys. Challenges were there, and they were skillfully transformed into powers as the days went on. Pictures are, indeed worth a thousand words. Experiences are worth ten thousand pictures. So, if you really want to know what this Explorers Camp was like, get out there with your Explorer and have him teach you what he has learned. Not just the information, but the games too. Go out and get dirty! Be a kid and play a few rounds of Hide! Actually rub your hands in mud and touch that frog. This Explorer could (and will upon request) give you all kinds of very compelling physiological and psychological research data that will convince you of the benefit… but do you really need it? This earth is our medicine and we are the sum and the quality of our relationships. Relationships are built by showing up and paying attention. Have your son and the landscape be your guide. Get out there and Explore the magical and vast wilderness of your own back yard.

P.S. You can check out many more pics in our Photo Gallery.

Tuesday
Jul082014

BEC: Red Squirrel Kits Camp

The Red Squirrel Kit camp was a truly wonderful three days! We explored three great locations throughout Whatcom County and introduced these new Red Squirrel Kits to many of the skills and practices that are so important in the Boys Explorers Club. The camp was a great experience with plenty of smiles, learning, exploration, and, of course, getting dirty.

June 30:

We spent the first day of the camp at the 100 Aker Woods. Peter and Dave introduced games that worked on our ability to hide in the forest and blend into the surrounding environment.

Hiding games evolved into other games that also worked on stealth skills and moving quietly through the forest. Soon, the boys were using fox feet to move quietly in the woods and using deer ears to hear more subtle noises in the forest. Parents, please ask your boys to show you how to do this.

As our skills got better, the sounds of breaking sticks and rustling sword fern fell away. Boys began to disappear into the base of stumps and curl up into the dark forest duff.  The day concluded by sneaking up on another Explorers club group without being seen, which was a great test of the boys’ new found stealth and hiding skills. Following our motto, Attitude of Gratitude, we ended the day in usual Explorers Club style with a Circle of Thanks.

July 1:

On the second day we met at Lake Padden Park. The boys took initiative and immediately navigated a route on the map that would take us to "The Big Fallen Tree".  Excitement was high to see "The Big Fallen Tree,” but there was still time to play a few games of Hungary Marten and Hide along the way, two of the favorites for the camp.

Our attention was soon captured by a large mud pit where the boys enthusiastically scoured the mud in search of animal tracks. We continued on our way, eventually reaching "The Big Fallen Tree" for a lunch break. Explorers spent much time clambering over the fallen tree trunks, examining the large uprooted sections, and counting tree rings.

The afternoon was hot and our energy drew us to the cool shady shores of the lake. There we all turned amphibious, exploring the shoreline with dip nets in search of aquatic life. We ended the day smiling and refreshed from our time in the lake.

July 2:

Our final day was spent at Clayton Beach in the heart of the Chuckanuts. We entered the woods with the tentative plan to end up at the beach by midafternoon. The theme of the morning focused on learning many of the common plants in the ecosystem.

Poisonous Water Hemlock (Cicuta douglasii) grows in swampy habitats like along the disturbed, sunny bank of the train tracks. Dave carefully explained to us how to identify this powerful plant. If we learn about the dangers of the ecosystem and what can actually harm us, then we know how to be more cautious while exploring. This knowledge also creates opportunities for us to thrive and have fun because we know what to look out for.

More tromping through the woods put us into the bright sunshine of the beach. We quickly dropped our packs and began hopping over rocks exploring the many tide pools. Soon our investigations led us into the shallow water along the tidal zone, picking up dead crabs, examining sea anemones, and discovering the delicate, hair-like feet on the underside of sand dollars.

Later, we made our way back up to our packs and moved again back into the forest. The shade cast on us from the big leaf maples and red alders was a welcome relief from the intensity of the beach's sun. Our day in the Chuckanuts was the perfect culmination of our three day camp, blending learning, games, and a healthy portion of simple exploring.

Explorers thank you for being so active and engaged during these three days. It was great to be outside together!

Parents thank you for supporting these boys and this program. We appreciate that you trust us with your sons and are honored to be working with your families. Thanks also for the World Cup score updates when we weren’t able to watch them.

Please see more pictures from this camp on the TWO pages of pics at the photo gallery. Though the words can describe a lot the pictures often give you a different insight into our days. Hope you continue to have a great summer of fun and exploring!

Monday
Jun302014

BEC: Komo Kulshan Camp

To say that the Komo Kulshan camp was epic might underestimate just how great this week of camp actually was. From adventurous beginnings to strong endings, these ten boys and four mentors embraced what “summer camp” means.

This camp would not have been a success were it not for the volunteer efforts of Natty Hagood and Asher Suloway. Natty, a strong adult leader, showed Explorers new ways of caring for the land and helped us rise above the walls of Whatcom Creek’s cliffs. He explained and then showed the boys how to be safe in swift water situations.

Asher, a dedicated EMA who joined many of the Daredevil’s Club participants last summer at camp and during various outings during the year, shined as a mentor too. His well-rounded skill set had Explorers laughing and playing during slow times and focused when we had to get work done. Both of you added so much to this camp and we are thankful for your work.

Each day could be an entire blog post in itself, so we’ll resort to summarizing the most memorable points. Please ask your Explorer to elaborate on the other details; undoubtedly they will remember more than us :)

Monday- Whatcom Creek Traverse: Getting lost in the forest, learning about trailing blackberry, raccoon prints, well-executed group decisions, playing in the creek, catching frogs, walking up the creek, falling in the water, salmonberries, traversing up a steep hill, clambering up the cliff’s edge, laughing on the way back, arriving exactly on time.

Tuesday- Racehorse Falls: Eating cherries at Samish Woods, boarding Stubbs, meeting Steve, Japanese Bus Driver, lots of “Earthkeeping,” discussions about bullets and safety considerations in public lands, exploring Racehorse Creek, throwing rocks, harvesting cedar for our fire kits, deliberations about fire, eating corn on the cob, true “fire-lining” to put out the blaze, crossing cold swift water, mossy rocks, western redback salamanders (Plethodon vehiculum), rock-hopping, scout-walking the way out.

Wednesday- Bakerview to Locust Beach traverse: Arriving at the Campbell’s house, opening meeting in a tree, seeing American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), scampering down to the beach, exploring the tide flats, walking to the water’s edge (30 minutes!), bald eagles and great blue herons feeding, surrounding flounders, hunting for geoducks (Panopea generosa), more carving, collecting bags and bags of rubbish, visiting the Earthkeeper’s den, making up a new game, experiencing the changing tide, covering ourselves in mud, washing off and being squeaky clean.

Thursday-Friday- Pine Lake backpack & overnight: Gathering gear and repacking backpacks to carry group stuff, missing the USA/Germany World Cup match :) , hiking up that steep hill, stretching edges of comfort and perceived ability, enjoying the top half of the hike, finally arriving at the island, being effective and efficient in setting up camp, providing for our needs- shelter, fire, water, & food; impressive efforts from every boy, “stay out of the kitchen,” Asher teaching us how to filter water, Matt starts a fire using materials we collected at various sites all week, a new game called Asher-stalk, late-night frogging, sleeping under the stars, crawling into the tents when the rain started, waking up leisurely, eating and packing in the scattered showers, hiking home jovially, everyone’s packs are lighter :) , games of Hide along the trail, arriving 15 minutes early, strong finish and goodbyes!

Explorers- truly you were a blast to hang out with all week. Your commitment to working together was paramount in our ability to function well and have such an expansive week. You stretched your edges yet again and are really maturing into great boys… and soon-to-be, arriving adults. See you in the fall!

Parents- thank you for having your boys participate in camp this summer. This program exists because you send your boys out with us and we are grateful for the chance to learn and teach alongside them. Certainly there are no mentors without mentees and their supportive and caring families!

Please look at the 156 pictures in the photo gallery if you have the space and time to do so. It was really a great week!