Under blue skies and sun rays, the Branch Hoppers gathered together at Fairhaven to deepen their Stealth and Supersense skills. The day was a re-introduction to the Explorers’ home base and a reminder that we have many senses that can guide us in the forest.
We played a name game to remind everyone of one another’s names. Explorers greeted a new Explorer who came for his first outing. Welcome to the Branch Hoppers, Marley!
Our opening meeting was smooth and by the time we got into the forest, we had already played three rounds of Hide. That was a good introduction to the sense of sight as we camouflaged ourselves in various environments. Those who called the “H-word” sure had their work cut out for them as Branch Hoppers got cleverer with their hiding spot each round.
We trekked through the mud and practiced seeing with our feet. The fox walk is one way that we can enhance our strength in the forest; if we walk like the animals, then we will gain the power to blend into our environment and augment our stealth skills.
While exploring near the huge cedar tree, Dave began to tell us a story about some Bald Eagles he saw courting one another. He has walking backward to test our sense of sound when we heard screaming from above. At that moment, two Red-tailed Hawks were dancing around each other, making vocalizations of courtships also. How ironic!
Dave finished his story, but Explorers used their Deer Ears to listen carefully as he was walking away. Ask your Explorer how to make Deer Ears and see if he remembers how much more he could hear when making that easy hearing adaptation.
Our hike up a hill led us to a place where Matt showed Branch Hoppers some moss that was also adapting to the season. Like the birds, and various budding Indian Plum shrubs, these mosses showed sign that spring is indeed upon us. Explorers discovered orange tips and black crosses atop the moss sporophytes.
We trekked deep into the forest and Forest (the Explorer!) told us his water bottle was missing. We learned about pattern recognition and used Avery’s bottle to help us picture the image for what we should begin to search. A brief check back down the trail proved unsuccessful, so we let the bottle go while we participated in an activity called Meet a Tree.
Explorers took turns guiding a partner to a tree so we could practice the sense of touch. We combined seeing with our feet with the skills of remembering how the trees felt and smelled. Our goal was to be able to find the same tree without a blindfold to which we had been led by our buddy. Ask your Explorer how he fared during this activity!
Suddenly, two mountain bikers appeared asking if someone was missing a green water bottle! Sure enough, Forest’s bottle returned to him and we thanked the cyclists as they passed on their way.
Meanwhile Dave disappeared down the trail. Only later did Explorers realize that he took their snack with him! They followed the trail back to discover that Dave was sitting blindfolded with their apple slices in a bag in front of him. Two at a time, Branch Hoppers were challenged to practice their stealth by sneaking up and snatching apple without Dave pointing to them.
Finally we all sat down together for apples and a Circle of Thanks. We practiced our motto, Attitude of Gratitude and offered acknowledgements of thanks to the trees, each other, and for apple slices, among other things.
We thought the day was over but an organic cry took over the Branch Hoppers as we walked towards the parents. It started slowly but then took roaring proportions... "Muddy, muddy, muddy, muddy!" Mentors looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders knowing that there was little they could do to prevent Explorers from getting filthy right before going home!
Thank you Explorers for your feisty explorative attitudes and excitement for being outside. Parents, thank you too for your support and encouragement. We are truly grateful for this group of boys.