The Roosevelt Elk Calves first meeting of the season took place at Lake Padden Park. This park is known to many for the beautiful lake and the trail that skirts its perimeter. Our missions as Explorers on this day was to explore the steep forested hillsides and valleys that dominate the topography above the lake. These less traveled places are what draw our curiosity to explore and play on this land.
We met on the open field and played a fun game of Fox Tales and a quick name game to get to know one another. Soon the unseasonably warm sun had us all packing up for the protection and shade of the huge Douglas Firs, Cedars, and Hemlocks that grow in the upper reaches of the park. We made our way to the secret valley (Parents if you take your Explorers back to Lake Padden they just might show you where this spot is) for our opening meeting. Along the way we could not resist the temptation to play a few rounds of Hide! The Sword Fern and logs provided such perfect camouflage. We soon reached a small clearing that was perfect for opening meeting. Being the first opening meeting of the season it is exciting and important to remind ourselves of Explorers Club culture and set our new intentions for the upcoming season. It took some time and energy to gather the boys into a circle, but we soon achieved this and began to hand out jobs and talk about our Earth skills focus for Fall season (shelter building and survival!). As the circle came to a close the boys energy exploded into a chants and shouts to play Spider’s Web. Although there were many that did want to play there were several that did not. We stuck with it and finally reached a consensus not to play, but to continue on in search of another spot for Spider’s Web. This decision was by no means easy and pushed the edge for many boys; for those that took the decision making process seriously and collaborated with each other the mentors were truly impressed by their patience and ability to express themselves. For many of the boys making decisions as a group is new, and they are exactly where they need to be right now. These group decisions take a lot of time but they are such an important part of creating a strong cohesive group that can continue to explore all season.
After wrestling with the decision-making process the Explorers did what they do best! Fallen Cedar trees, Sword Fern, Hide!, bush waking, sliding down hillsides, discussions of white spiders, Devils Club, exploring, playing Wolf Stalks Deer, telling stories, lounging in the sun, watching hikers without being seen, more sliding down sandstone hillsides, and of course lots more exploring.
We had found a perfect spot to eat lunch on a small flat spot part way up a steep hillside. As soon as lunch was finished the call for Spider’s Web was again voiced. There were some boys that felt uncomfortable playing because they did not know this new place well, but after Tim suggested that playing games is sometimes the best way to learn a new place these boys felt more comfortable with playing. Again this decision took a while but everyone had a chance to speak and thanks to some strong leadership by a few Explorers we were able to agree on playing. It was a great spot to play and gave us a great opportunity to explore the land and enjoy the competition.
Closing circle and the practice of giving thanks is a very important part of the day. We have a motto in boys explorers club: strong beginning, strong middle, and strong end. This strong end is really important after having such a great day and part of this strong end is focus and respect for the closing circle. Again most of the boys showed very strong commitment to this, spoke from the heart, and held their focus. Our edge as a group is making clear decisions as a cohesive unit. With so much great energy and excitement in a group this can be challenging but the power is in this same enthusiasm for embracing every moment. As mentors we are here to challenge these boys where they need challenging and bring out strengths. The outing went very well and as always it was such a joy to explore with these boys! I am confident with so many focused and good leaders in the group they can set an example for those that are not there yet to create a strong group for the rest of the season.
For more pictures from the outing please visit the Roosevelt Elk Calves Photo Gallery.