Our Wild Walkers program took place on Wednesday this week as a part of a partnership with the Vermont Wilderness School. For children ages 10-14, the day's agenda included knife and fire skills plus a lot of fun and free exploration time. It was a fabulous day. Amy Hyatt from VWS and Kimberly O'Connor from the museum helped campers use coal from a fire they built along with knives to create their own spoon from cedar wood.
They started a fire right off so it would prepare the coals they needed for burning their own wild spoons. Amy gave a knife skills lesson, then everyone got in the own "blood bubble" to start carving. Each kid got a cedar stick and balanced a hot coal on it to burn the spoon's bowl. Then they used a straight knife to whittle down the wood to spoon size, followed by smoothing the rough edges with sandpaper and lastly a good oiling. Then they headed off to the woods to play "woodland bingo" and "capture the flag".
When they returned they rekindled the bonfire. Kids practiced using strikers to spark onto tiny bits of char cloth nestled in birch leaf and birch bark tinder bundles which they blew to grow the flame.
Group leaders reported that this particular group really jelled. Kids started the day as strangers and ended as friends who shared a life changing experience in nature.
We recently stumbled upon a great article about how to teach the art of tracking to children and how we can connect our youth to the natural world through this skill. Written by Linda McGurk, "Animal Tracking with Children: A Beginners Guide" gives some great tips for tracking and engaging our senses while in the outdoors. Check it out if you're interested in introducing tracking to your child or picking up new skills yourself!