We gathered at the base of the Sehome Arboretum for our final outing of the Fall season. Giant mulch pile provided a great training ground for our agility and ninja skills as we waited for everyone to arrive. After we had spent a while running up and down mulch piles we gathered under a stand of Douglas Firs for our opening meeting. Jobs, discussions about our day and a few rounds of Hungary Hungary Martin Were all we needed to get ready for our day.
We made our way up the trail and stopped at the first map to decide on our route to the top. We gathered around the sign to identify what trails led where we wanted to go and to get a lay of the land. The Roosevelt Elk Calves began to talk amongst themselves regarding what route to take and where they wanted to go. Steve and I sat back and for the most part let the Explorers come to the decision. Making decisions as a group is a very important part of Explorers Club. Even though it can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, letting the boys do this as much as possible is really good. As a mentor we are really just there to guide their decision making skills rather than make these decision for them. We concluded that the Ridge trails would be the best approach to the towers and began our hike up.
Discovering interesting orange fungus, stopping to identify new trees and plants, running across routes, through mud, getting off the Trail, sandstone cliffs, safety, sliding down rocks, eating, laughing, hiding. The Arboretum offers some really amazing terrain and a cool opportunity to explore a place that is right in the middle of the city. We soon found a low gully filled with sword ferns, fallen trees, and salal; A perfect spot to play Eagles Eye. They boys spread out and our “Eagle” counted as the rest of us hid. The Roosevelt Elk Calves were feeling a bit high energy for a hiding game so we kept walking toward the tower. Their energy was contagious and soon enough we were all moving at a brisk pass. WInding our way up steep paths, through sandstone cliffs and across valleys of sword fern we soon reached the lookout tower. From here we looked out West over the san juan islands, North toward the canadian mountains, and watched the high pressure system move back in from the coast.
After leaving the tower we headed into a series of steep ridges and deep ravines to find a location for a sit spot and a closing meeting.
As The boys trickled back in from their sit spots. Steve and I pulled out our Bow Drill Kits and began talking about fire by friction. As smoke rose from the bow drill sets the boys drew closer and quieted down to see what would happen next. Soon enough Steve produced a nice little cole from his kit. As he blew the ember into flame the boys excitement was near overflowing. We coaxed a small fire into existence feeding it small Western hemlock twigs. Despite the fact that Fire by Friction is not the skill focus for the Roosevelt Elk Calves this season it is important for them to see these skills in use and know that if they continue to practice their skills they too will be making fire by friction too.
We had a very pleasant closing meeting. Circled around the small fire the boys gave some very sincere and heartfelt thanks as they roasted slices of apple over the dying ember. As the circle ended We doused the fire and buried the ashes in trenches. By the time we left no one could tell where the fire had been. Thank you Roosevelt Elk Calves for an amazing season. You all were truly a joy to work with. Parents please check out our photo gallery for more pictures, It really is true that pictures speak louder than a thousand words.