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Molding a Quinzee

Today our FOREST group gathered with the Woolly Bears for a morning circle filled with gratitude and an old favorite game and friend, Bob the Weasel. We passed her around the circle learning about the life of an animal that is both hunter and hunted.
After a quick running/warm-up game, we were off into the forest to eat our snacks and hear a story about some inspirational teens that Josh led on a winter camping adventure high in the mountains of Washington State. They worked together all day and built a snow shelter that they slept snugly in all night.
It was time for us to begin work on our snow shelter, a safe, warm, and traditional snow survival shelter, a quinzee. We gathered, shovels in hand, in a large circle, and shoveled and shoveled snow into a six-foot dome in the center. Worked and warm, we smoothed and molded the outside edges and waited for excavation time. To allow the snow to "sinter," or re-crystallize and strengthen, we waited about an hour and a half.
During this time, and throughout the rest of the day, groups of kids organized and reorganized, always openly and harmoniously, to cut snow blocks and build an equally-sized, blocked shelter complete with windows and chairs. They cut the blocks, hauled them with sleds or arms, and organized into roles that made the building of the structure efficient, and everyone happy making use of their talents and preferences in the process. Some kids took advantage of the hardened, icy snow to otter-slide all through and over the hills on the land. We built snow couches for the Woolly Bears when they came to visit. We cliff-jumped into snowdrifts and connected with each other through joy and play and hard work!
When the time was right, we finished excavating our quinzee walls to a one-foot depth (measured with broken sticks, inserted into the shelter) and fit all 23 of us inside!  We appreciated each other and our hard work with the quinzee, the castle-ish block shelter, the block cutting, the fresh air, the warm sun, and the snow.  We all shared our rose, bud, and thorn, and reflected that the snow that supported us today would soon be supporting the raft we will build later in the spring.
Theresa, Josh, Evan, Owen, and Nathaniel