If I could have planned my perfect summer day camp day, today woul dhave been exactly what I came up with. We started with a blindfold walk into the woods from the big field where we meet. I love the look on kids faces when they take off their blindfolds and find themselves in the midst of the cedar trees. Then we headed out to see if we could find the Eagle Nest.
There are bald eagles nesting in Seward. I took the kids over to the big grassy field at the base of the huge old fir tree where the nest is. I tried to get a game of Eagle Eye going, but there were ripe blackberries around and it’s impossible to do anything but eat berries when they’re around. so I told them that the first person to bring me 6 ripe berries would get a reward. I didn’t really have a plan for what the reward would be, figuring I would hope for something good to occur to me. As kid after kid brought me the 6 ripe berries, pretty soon I couldn’t hold them all inmy hands, and I grabbed a leaf off a nearby big-leaf maple to make a little basket. Everyone wanted to know how to make the little basket, so we took some time to do that, and then went back to berry collecting. We ended up with enough berries in the collective (after everyone ate at least half the ones they picked right off the bush, and stashed away a bunch more to take home to their families) that we had a leaf basket full. Then we took turns passing it around and squishing it with our fingers, and the reward that everyone enjoyed was blackberry jam on a piece of bread or cracker. Then with the bit of leftover juice, we painted our faces, and a couple of the blondes dyed pink streaks in their hair.
From there, we walked over to where we could see the eagle nest, and one of the juveniles was hanging out near the nest. Some of the kids spontaneously pulled out their field journals and started drawing a picture of the eagle. When I pointed that out to the others, everyone pulled out ther journals and started drawing. One of those magic moments when everyone deos something that I wanted, and I don’t have to expend any energy to make it happen, it just does it on its own. From there, we had just a few minutes left, which we used to go past the Dirt Factory.
The Dirt Factory is this fallen log with a big root system hanging up in the air. It’s been there for long enough that a lot of the dirt has washed away and you can get into the root system and crawl around, but there’s still a lot of dirt. I haven’t really kept track of how this happened, but the kids have created this whole complex system of "jobs" at the Dirt Factory, and everyone seems to have a defined role that fits in with the rest of the kids. I never hear any serious arguing from the Dirt Factory, and it seems like a really great community-building game that they have set up. Of course, there are always a couple kids who don’t want to play the big group game, whatever it is. So I spent the time teaching those few how to make cordage.
From there, we headed back to the big field where everyone got together in a big group (all the other instructors’ groups also) and everyone had a spokesperson to tell the story of their day. After that we sang a few songs, and then parents arrived, and that was the end of our day. Almost.
The one kid who was a real problem the first day really had a turn-around today. He was a pleasure to have around most of the time. His nanny came to pick him up at the end of the day, and they drove off. A few minutes later, they came back and he came running over to tell me that they had driven by the eagle nest and had seen the mom feeding the babies something. He had made the nanny drive all the way back over to the parking lot in order to tell me that. I suspect that he made up the story, since in his story the babies were brand new, while I think the actual juveniles are fully fledged. But even the fact that he was excited enough about the eagles to make up a story about them was cool to me, after the first day when he insisted that the only thing he wanted to do was play with his xbox, and the only way he would have fun in the woods was if there was a way to plug in his xbox.
And that really was the end of the day at Seward.