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A FOREST Farewell

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During Opening Circle, the Woolly Bears and the FORESTers sang a beautiful song in rounds of "Dear Friends" as a parting farewell. It sounded great! We departed, wishing each other well and kicked off the morning with a back-to-back game session. Snack was eaten at camp while we went over the logistics of the morning activity: A wild treasure hunt with two teams looking for hidden scrolls all over the forest that contained clues as to the whereabouts of said treasure!

The clues led in two different directions, yet all led to the same treasure. The race was on. The hunt took us all over the forest! The clues were hidden so well that the students, even when arriving at the correct location, had to carefully comb the landscape for the scrolls tucked away in tiny rock crevices and other well-concealed spaces. At the end of the trail, we found that, although the treasure was in the hands of one group, it was for us all and we all pitched in to make use of the treasure: Chaga and cacao for Hot Chagalate! We kindled a fire, some cranking away on bow drills, and others sparking their flint and steels. It was a ton of fun and the payoff was evident in smiling faces later on as we sipped the delicious beverage around the fire right about the time that the temperature dropped and the wind picked up!

After lunch, we cleaned up camp, raking leaves and stacking wood, taking down tarps and making the place shine. It was now time for the Naturalist Game Show!

The same teams from the Treasure Hunt assembled for a friendly showdown of trivia. Outrageous questions were asked! Each team sent contestants up one at a time to answer things like: What three species of squirrels can you find around here? What favorite mushroom of yours grows on birch trees? Point to the Northwest! What bird is that? How many toes does a Coyote have? What does ASTABS stand for? Where direction does your shadow point at noon? What fun! A close match it was!

When we were done, we readied ourselves for a round of appreciation of each person in the group. They were sent out to a sit spot for a quiet moment before being called in to the circle for a lively round of appreciations. Each person had a moment to hear what others appreciated about them. It's such a great practice to take time to do this. Everyone had loads of praise heaped upon them. What a great bunch of kids!

As parents were assembling in the parking lot, the FORESTers were preparing for their arrival, crafting skits and talking about how to best welcome them and show them what we've been up to.

The parents (and even a grandparent and two cousins) hiked up the steep hill to camp, welcomed by numerous cheerful faces while the rest of the group drummed in a big rhythm circle. Being welcomed into a camp with singing or drumming is quite an experience. We treat our guests well here at Flying Deer! There were a few skits by the students, after which a tour of our camp commenced. Parents got a chance to see our cattail-thatched hut (made last year), our nice cooking arrangement, a big coal-burned log that is still in progress, our carefully crafted backpack hooks, and inside our Super Shelter (a giant insulated long-term group survival shelter)! See you next semester!

—Josh and the Forest Staff