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First Day of the FOREST Homeschool Program

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We began our day with a fun game of agility that we call Bobcat Tag (giving credit to the reflexes of our local wild feline predator). Afterwards, we gathered some goldenrod flowers to create a line between two groups of students, and played a Wild West name game to test ourselves with the new and old names in the group. Two students stood back to back and, on the count of three, turned and called out the name of their "opponent"; those who were quickest on the draw were the winners and "captured" their opponent!
 
We headed to our new campsite and went over our agreements for working together. We don't have a lot of rules here. Instead, we have the 3 Rs: We agreed to respect ourselves, each other, and the Earth. We agreed to be inclusive, to participate, and to be mindful of our impact on the group and the earth. And we agreed to have a lot of fun and to learn as much as we can!
 
The kids heard a story about a group of people living close to the Earth and how they knew the terrain so well, they could disappear without a trace! They could also provide for all their needs with the gifts from the land. The story was based on several accounts of the First Nation Apaches. It inspired the kids to test their scouting skills by disappearing into the forest and attempting to sneak up on me. At Flying Deer, we love to draw inspiration from and give credit to those people who have a close relationship to the land. It helps us imagine the potential that lies ahead on our journey into a closer relationship to nature.
 
We split into two groups, offering two different activities. One group sawed their own sticks, and learned a variety of useful notches to carve. Many of these sticks made it home, so you can check them out. They were very excited to learn these tricky notches. They did great! The other group participated in some games that stretched their awareness and movement to new levels. They had a fun time and also climbed trees and caught frogs!
 
We had lunch and caught up with old friends before heading out into two different areas of the land. We did a bit more carving (they couldn't stop!) and we build giant rock towers to topple with stones thrown from a distance (to great cheers!). My group was ambushed by the other and were surprised to find marshmallows being thrown at us! We ducked and dodged and then congratulated them and decided that there was nothing else we could do besides build a fire and roast these puffy projectiles.
 
We sprung a 15-minute fire challenge on them and they scrambled around the woods, scraping together small wispy sticks, pencil-sized sticks, and A-OK-sized sticks (the diameter of the area between your thumb and forefinger, making an A-OK sign). We lit it with flint and steel and sat back and roasted our single marshmallow before sharing our favorite moment of the day, our challenging moment of the day, and what excites us most about our semester ahead. 
 
Other highlights of the day:
  • Connecting with each other again, laughing and playing in the great outdoors!
  • A frog was caught—and released!​
  • Same for a toad
  • A Sharp-Shinned Hawk flew right past our circle at camp, sounding bird and chipmunk alarms throughout the forest​!
  • Eating jewel weed seeds
  • We revisited our old Forest Lodge camp to find that our old lodge is looking a bit ragged, so we decided that it was time for a big shelter project!

—Josh Wood, Lead Instructor, and Theresa Wood; September 21, 2016