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In The Woods

Get a glimpse of the inspiration and connection that unfolds in the embrace of the natural world.

A FOREST Thanksgiving

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Today was a mighty fine day for a FOREST Thanksgiving! We would be cooking a great feast and celebrating the world's bounty and our well-earned harvest. Three groups would be working at three different stations for three rounds. We had the Shelter Station, the Cooking Station, and the Throwing Stick Station. The final row of thatch on our shelter needed attention, and of course we needed to hunt for the feast—and what's a feast without a fire to cook upon? Each group got a turn at each station and had a great time doing so. 

Little Lean-To in the Big Woods

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The frosty morning gave way to bright sunshine that warmed us up quickly. We arrived at our camp and made a final push to finish our wattle and daub walls to our lean-to. Another giant mixing party ensued while grapevines were carefully tugged down out of the upper reaches of the forest canopy to wind back and forth through the final portions of our walls. When all was done, we felt pretty good about the fruits of our labor and settled into our home in the forest around a fire that was built by the students.

Learning to Tend the Land

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Our focus of the day with the FOREST group (ages 7 to 13) was caretaking of the land. We used our imaginations to envision a landscape actively tended by humans for generations in a way that not only benefits the human people, but the non-human people as well. A landscape that is so rich in diversity that it hosts abundant animal, bird, insect, plant, and tree life. Over time, we have made significant improvements to the land and we are in the process of learning to tend the wild more and more... That's what this day was about.

A Shelter Takes Shape

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Our FOREST lean-to is taking shape! We've been making mats with the cattail leaves, and today, in addition to more mat work, we finished the first layer of thatch for the roof. It looks amazing! These kids are such hard workers and eager learners. Great job to everyone these past few weeks! We hope to finish the shelter in the next two weeks, and to make that possible, their homework is to bring in a bundle of cattail!

—Theresa, Evan, and Josh

Gifts of Nature

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Today in our Vermont homeschool program, we set out to collect as much bark as we could. Josh and I were, admittedly, skeptical about how much we would be able to find to cover the roof of our giant lean-to. But in the end we found quite a lot of big pieces of paper birch and other trees. The teamwork that was displayed on this gathering made our group look like a well-oiled machine! All hands were busy cutting the bark from dead trees and hauling it down the hillside. We were able to cover most of the lean-to with what we gathered. 

Adventuring at the Cobble

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Another beautiful day with our Cobble Homeschool group! Once at our campsite, we assessed our ever-growing shelter and wondered what to do with the cattails we had cut and hung up to dry. Mats!, I suggested. A loom! suggested Devin. The Cobblers became excited about adding another element of primitive house-making onto their shelter. After snack, we split into two groups: one went adventuring to the most southern point of the Cobble with me, and the others stayed to build fire, make cordage, and start on our cattail loom. 

Shelter Building, Jedi Training, and More

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The FOREST Homeschool Group (ages 7 to 13) started our day, after Opening Circle, with a great game of Wolves and Moose, with the FORESTers teaming up to take down the instructors. They had to work together to hunt us (by stealing all three of our bandana tails) without getting tagged. It was a long drawn-out battle! Upon review of the game the students identified several strategies that worked: 1) working as a team 2) using the landscape to their advantage 3) splitting the Moose up. All excellent tried-and-true Wolf strategies!

Bows and Arrows

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This week in the FOREST Homeschool program, the students enjoyed a good round of archery, shooting at various targets to win Nature Points (our local non-redeemable yet incentivizing currency). Some archers were refining their posture, release, and skills, while others were learning the ropes. They all had a blast!
 
Other highlights of our day in the woods:
  • Firelighting
  • A game of Capture the Flag
  • Finding Chicken of the Woods and Turkey Tail mushrooms 
  • Spotting a Red-Tail Hawk
  • Finding lots of deer scat and a lay

Homeschool Program at Bartholomew's Cobble Launches the Semester

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On the first day of our Homeschool Program at Bartholomew's Cobble, we journeyed across the vast field to our old campsite beneath a grove of towering White Pines, punctuating a beautiful field painted purple and yellow by the flowers of early fall, asters and goldenrods. Quite a few Queen Anne's Lace seeds hitched a ride on our clothing as we cut through the field. The creek flowing by our campsite out of the cattail marsh was completely dry, to our surprise ... more on that later.

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!