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New Lebanon Woolly Bears Kick Off the Fall Semester

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We had a blast at our first day of the fall. What a wonderful group of kids! After leaving parents and heading to our site, we settled in around our campfire for snack and a story. Many returning children recounted a few memories of this land, and it was clear in their body language that they were excited to be back in this special forest full of stories of the past.

We noticed a speckling of white wood chips (or perhaps "fairy confetti") at our campsite and wondered where it came from. Actually, as we ate our snack, some Story Fairies appeared and landed right on my head! I told a Seneca story of how Fox and Raccoon tricked each other—a comical and compelling story of mischief and learning the hard way. That story segued well into a conversation about how to be safe in the forest.

In the middle of the story, someone moved a wide strip of birch bark on the forest floor and a large toad hopped out of it! After the story, we found the toad again, got to know it a bit, and spent a few minutes further exploring our immediate surroundings. Though we surely could have spent hours more discovering the mysteries of the forest, it was time for a game! We circled up for a rowdy game of Wolves vs. Moose, but not before practicing group calls for circling up. The Woolly Bears reveled in the chance to use their wolf pack strategy and speed to sneak up on the Moose and strip the bandanas off them before being tagged by a Moose. Using clever strategy and teamwork, the Wolves succeeded multiple times! Much fun and laughter was had, and agility and unity was practiced.

From the joyous energy of the game we transitioned to our craft of the day: creating a Woolly Bears banner to hang on our campsite fort. We talked about the fort and many children shared their ideas on how to spruce it up and make it even cooler. We wandered up the hill in search of neat items to collect, finding bark, beautiful leaves, mushrooms, rocks, worms, and salamanders along the way. We took our materials and began to decorate and clean up the fort. Some children also decorated the banner, which is already starting to look very nice!

The group worked hard, organically splitting into various teams; some sawed recently fallen branches, others carried the branches, others cleared out the fort, and some decorated the banner. I can tell already that this group will be able to accomplish much given the passion, focus, and kindness they expressed today.

We wrapped up the work by sitting in the newly spruced-up fort and passing around some Wild Cucumber (which was cleverly renamed "net weed" due to the inner lining resembling a net). The texture, smell, and incredible design of the plant provided minutes of hands-on discovery. The last part of our day was used to let the children explore the land—they instantly gravitated to the boulders and old shelters uphill from our site, and harmoniously initiated wonderful, imaginative play on the rocks (which become ships) and among the sticks (which became wands or "power rods"). We completed the day with a song and a sharing of our favorite part of the day.

See you next week!

—Dan, Julie, and Eden