Cold, clear, brisk, but calm. I was so thankful it was calm as the Grey Fox Kits gathered around stubs for our final outing of the season. On our previous outing we had experienced winds that picked up and caused a tree to fall very close to us on the trails above Lake Padden. This experience shook up many of the boys and the mentors. Safety is always in the forefront of our minds as we explore but there are always risks that you cannot plan for. As we loaded Stubs to take us out to North Lake Whatcom I was happy to hear many of the boys joking about wind and expressing how excited they were that it was sunny and calm today. Stubs started on the second try and we were off along the sunny shores of The Lake.
North Lake Whatcom is an incredible place to explore. It is part of the watershed for our cities drinking water and offers great opportunities for exploration of both waterfront and the steep flanks of Mt Stuart. Our first decision was whether to Commit to a trek to the summit of Mt Stuart or to head down toward the lake. As mentors we are not only focused on sharing information regarding the natural world, but also helping these boys become strong leaders and contributing members of a group. Group decisions like this are the perfect time to use these skills. The weather was chilly and everyone wanted to move, but i was impressed by the patients most of the boys had to stand their and make a decision that everyone felt good about. After many compromises and negotiations we headed toward the lake and left Mt Stuart for future explorations.
It was cold in the forest as we headed down toward the lake. We picked up a brisk pace and swung our arms to stay warm as we followed the dark path through large stands of Cedars and Douglas Firs. The minute the Explorers saw the sunny shores of the lake they raced toward the inviting sunlight. Within a few minutes we had all dropped our packs, taken off a few layers, and sprawled out on logs and rocks in the sunshine. Pretty quickly all of us settled into our individual projects. Some boys harvested “Fat wood” (ask your explorers to show you this stuff!) from old stumps, built shelters along the beach, worked on carving, explored the shallow water, helped me work on my bow drill kit, lounged on logs, ate lunch and laughed with each other. It was so cool to see all the boys so focused and happy with whatever project they had decided to under take. Some days you work so hard to find this kind of focus in the boys with no results and then days like this without any effort they find this kind of focus for themselves. It is so powerful to see them make these decisions and know what they need.
After almost two hours on the beach the boys all came together on the beach; chattering about what they had worked on and sharing with others in the group the things they had accomplished. I asked the group if they wanted to go up into the forest to explore, their immediate response was a unanimous No. They were incredulous why we would go to the cold dark forest when there was a warm and sunny beach to explore. satisfied with the beach we spent the rest of the outing playing awareness games on the beach.
It was really pleasant to spend a day with these boys and follow them around for the day. The Grey Fox Kits really are a solid group and are at the point where they make most of the decisions about the day. I am so honored to be a part of their growth and see them grow as the season goes on. Thank you Explorers for all the dedication and laughter through out the season and thank you parents for bringing your boys out to these outings! Make sure to check out our photo gallery for more pictures.