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The Woolly Bears Trick a Trickster (and Learn a Lot Along the Way)


We practiced animal stretches, gratitude, and a fun new game in our morning circle. Afterwards, along the trail to our campsite, we recalled that last week we had worked on a potion to lure Coyote in, and that we had better keep our awareness up as there was no telling exactly what kind of tricks he might be scheming in retaliation. We noticed fresh beaver chews, the smell, colors and textures of the forest floor before settling into snack. Julie told a wonderful story of a young boy and his grandfather and their lifelong bond, revolving around their land base and its natural bounty of fruit and nuts.

After snack, we checked on some of our nearby traps, passed out the black walnut–dyed cloths from last week, and howled for Coyote, as we figured he might be nearby. We listened intently after each howl, and felt as though we heard something in the direction of our firepit. When we returned, there was a note there! Sure enough, it was from Coyote! "You really thought you could trick me??!!!,” it read. We opened up the envelope to find a note along with a map! The map instructed us to complete a few challenges:

1. We gathered various leaves from the forest floor and matched them as closely as possible to the specific hue on our paint color swatches. It was great seeing all the kids really engage with this—of course, finding all sorts of insects, mushrooms, and worms along the way!

2. In order to "peer into the fallen tree of life and retrieve a magic crystal," we all had to balance walk on a fallen log. Once we completed that task, we spent a few moments passing the crystal around and saying one thing we were grateful for.

3. The next landmark on the map led to a giant rock near the precipice of the mountain stream. Coyote was there waiting for us!

Many laughs were had as Coyote explained that their trick to lure him in nearly worked, but that he had been so focused on his current mission—tracking the Zimperumpazoo! This is a creature we have heard lore of before, and we were thrilled to hear more of its legend. Apparently Coyote has some information for us on how we might be able to track it ...

Coyote goes crazy for Key lime pie, so with the possibility, even just a slight one, that somehow there would be pie at the campsite, Coyote happily joined us on our walk back. He was told immediately to sit down in the center of our circle and we would deliver his pie. His grin was a mile wide as the children walked slowly toward him, walnut sacks in hand … he opened up his mouth and a hundred wet leaves poured all over him in place of pie! Coyote congratulated us on tricking a trickster, and we bid him adieu.

At lunch, we debriefed all the information and excitement of our adventure. Future plans are being hatched. We played a couple rounds of Twenty Questions, as well as a new favorite, the Yes Game. As in Hot and Cold, one child steps out of the circle and when they return, they have to somehow decipher an action that the group has chosen for them to do, using only our level of enthusiastic "yesses" as signals. It's fun and a great shift in how we normally communicate.

After lunch, the children self-organized a game of Owl Woman Hide and Seek. The time flew by and there were many requests for more of the game next week.

—Dan, Julie, and Eden