Summer 2013 Week 1: Wilderness Skills!

By all accounts Week 1 of Summer 2013 was a hit!  We had a fabulous group of campers and happy, dirty, wet and tired kids returning from mountainous adventures each day.  New friendships were forged, new adventures had, and new wilderness skills acquired!

Themes all week were S.A.F.E.R., equipment/packing a backpack for a hike, cardinal directions, noticing surroundings, maps and landmarks, keeping track of buddies and belongings, and working together!

We started the week with a name game, an orientation to Mountain Kids and a group contract.   We talked about what we need to have in our packs and on our bodies for a safe and fun adventure each day.  Everyone got a “Buddy” for the day to keep them safe on the trail, and to make a new friend.

Monday at the Beaver Ponds brought a wide variety of explorations: making beaver dams, listening to birds, making rafts, finding clay, fossil hunting and playing camouflage.  Each group chose their group name for the week: we had the Horned Lizards, the Bobcats and the Otters.

On Tuesday Mark read a story in circle called Stop and Stay Put where we learned how to stay safe when going on an adventure in nature.  The acronym S.A.F.E.R. helped us remember these important concepts:

S  – Stop and Stay Put (if you get lost)

A  – Tell and Adult where you are going

F – Go with a Friend

E – Bring an Equipment Kit (the basics include water, sunscreen, hat, snacks, jacket)

R – Make sure you Rest.

Our adventure for the day took us to the Nordic Trails to hike and learn how to build survival shelters that will keep you warm and dry, or cool in the forest if you are lost.  We played Park Ranger and other games for group building.  The Littles played a hiding game with their buddies and one where they hiked along the trail and took note of anything that stood out.  Campers were buddies with new friends today; they really enjoyed getting to know new kids!  We had story time and did our first Sit Spots of the week while making Sound Maps.  A beautiful day in the forest!

On Wednesday, Ashley led us in learning about the Four Directions and how to use a compass to find them.  We practiced finding the four directions at the Children;s museum using magnets to show us magnetic north, and again at the Big Tesuque where we spent the day hiking, playing by the river, making maps, identifiying landmarks, building shelters, doing Sit Spots, watercolor painting, and talking about what else we could add to our backpacks to make our Equipment Kit even better (compass, mirror, whistle, orange garbage bag, first aid kit, etc. )  The water was super fun, but also COLD!  We did a rain dance to help bring on some moisture!

Thursday we headed up to Black Canyon where the kids found many wonders of nature: a bird nest, broad tailed humming birds, caterpillars, butterflies and wildflowers.  We connected the Four Directions and compass with a map to show how they can be used together.  We played games, did watercolors, sound maps and another rain dance!  Let’s hope it works soon!

All in all it was a wonderful week!  We are grateful for such a super group of kids and such stunning natural beauty in our surroundings to inspire us each day!

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