Upon reflection, it’s clear to me that Sunday’s Jumping Mice outing was a scarcely manageable tangle of ebullient energy.
According to Wikipedia, “Common energy forms include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the radiant energy carried by light, the potential energy stored by an object's position in a force field (gravitational, electric or magnetic), elastic energy stored by stretching solid objects, chemical energy released when a fuel burns, and the thermal energy due to an object's temperature. All of the many forms of energy are convertible to other kinds of energy, and obey the law of conservation of energy which says that energy can be neither created nor be destroyed; however, it can change from one form to another.”
The Jumping Mice experienced and exhibited all manner of energy at Whatcom Falls Park on Sunday! Our rainy, overcast November took a breather, resulting in an increase in radiant energy - the sun came out! Gravitational force pulling ferocious Whatcom Creek over the falls for which the park is named thundered at all times in a persistent reminder of the power of nature’s energy - it was loud! Mentor Steve taught us that the water in the creek is colder than the Pacific Ocean water at the surface, which combined with the raging and heavy surge of the water required constant vigilance on the part of both mentors and our first time EMA (Explorers Club Apprentice) and Vespula Veteran explorer, Xavier. It was nature in all its glory and we tried to soak in as much of it as we could in a few hours.
Of course, central to our interest is the Jumping Mice explorers. How was their energy, you might ask? Well, in just under 5 hours, we:
• played a name game so Xavier (and the mentors) could get to know who was who,
• checked out the juvenile salmon and trout in the rearing ponds,
• played a game of Cougar Stalks Deer,
• had lunch in the sun,
• launched sticks into the creek and watched them tumble over the falls,
• worked through the rules for Spider’s Web for a half hour or so,
• played Spider’s Web and Hide!,
• gave thanks in our closing circle, and
• checked out the raging creek one more time from the famous stone bridge.
Along the way, we learned about how to properly harvest licorice root, the qualities of Yew trees, the job of the Tribal Elder in Explorers Club, the importance of sitting in a circle when collaborating as a group, and marveled at the power of the creek.
Whew! Plenty of energy of all forms at Whatcom Falls Park for our outing. Of course, as long as no one gets hurt, on the inside or the outside, lots of energy is exactly what we want.
By no means is it our sole focus, however. We do things because they’re fun, energetic and exciting; we do things so the boys can learn and grow; we do things that combine the two. For example, most of our explorers love the game called Spider’s Web. It’s a capture the flag type game that emphasizes strategies that are often used by creatures in the wild, most notably stealth. Boys new to the game tend to run through the forest to get to the flag (or “food source” in our parlance) which more often than not leads to detection by the spider and a free trip back to the “web”, from which they need to start over. With greater experience, the boys are more inclined to sneak through the ferns and approach their prize stealthily. So, while playing a game, they’re learning about survival in the natural world.
In fact, before we begin a game of Spider’s Web, we discuss the ground rules for the day. This often involves meeting in a circle (so everyone can participate equally) to work through particulars such as how far the Spider needs to stay from the food source (to minimize “puppy guarding”). Or, as was the case on Sunday, how far away from the web a “fly” needs to be to free captured flies by waving them off. Our discussion was led by one of our explorers, whose job for the day was Tribal Elder. He did excellent work ensuring that all points of view were considered and consensus was reached. This takes a different kind of energy - a discipline on everyone’s part to listen, consider other’s input, suggest resolutions, and the like. The Jumping Mice are new to these Explorers Club expectations and get understandably antsy after a time in circle. On Sunday they showed great promise as they hung in there, mostly, for the better part of a half hour. It was great to see.
Two games of Spider’s Web and a round or two of Hide! and we were ready to call it a day. We have one more outing (Dec. 5 - check here for the details) in the opening chapter of the story that will be the Jumping Mice group experience. I can’t wait to see where their energy takes them.
Click here for more photos from our day at Whatcom Falls Park.