Earthwork Wilderness Survival Training School | 413-340-1161

Spring Is Awakening All Around Us

Look, Listen, Feel, Touch and Taste

Deep Listening, There Is More Going on than You Think

Kids InvestigatingThe sounds of spring are all around us. There is a BIG difference in hearing and listening. Hearing can be passive. Listening causes us to reach out with our senses to become more present in the moment. We may hear the chorus of frogs calling in the Vernal pools, flooded meadows, temporary ponds and sometimes in roadside puddles. Usually the first songs we hear are the spring peepers, tiny tree frogs identifiable by the “x” on their back. Their most common call is a long drawn out P-E-E-P, but this year listen to the other call that is a type of whistling trill, which is a sound signaling that these frogs are agitated by something. In order to find out what, we need to get closer and be quiet, slowly stalking over to the edge of the water to get a closer look. This trill may mean a couple of male peepers are competing for a female; it could also mean there is a predator in the water, overhead, or it could be you.
Also listen for wood frogs, the ones wearing the black mask.  Though they are frogs, their call may be confused with the call of ducks – “quack, quack, quack”.  Wood frogs are predators of spring peepers so if you hear the quacking, investigate to find out if there are peepers in the pool also.

Listen for the S-I-L-E-N-C-E. This speaks volumes to what is happening as you approach or if you happen to walk by and everything stops. If you are quiet, you can get really close and observe this behavior that you might not otherwise be aware of. The gift you could be rewarded by is seeing the natural rhythm of this place. A red fox could be observing your approach or perhaps a raccoon could be dining on frogs’ legs.

Deep observation is another way to develop a rich relationship with the land and your wild neighbors, the frogs and salamanders and everything that is connected to this strand of web of life that takes place here.

 

Blossoming

It’s Spring Time, It’s Spring Time
There’s a certain feeling in the air. Everything is waking up, blooming, blossoming, hatching. Smells are wafting on the winds, and the leaves are unfurling and are becoming fully developed. This is the perfect stage for them to be edible. There are many edible trees that are around and available; basswood, in particular, is one of my favorites. It’s like having salad greens, and you just pick it off, like our wild neighbor, the deer…no processing necessary—just pick and eat (and don’t forget, give thanks for the bounty, like our ancestors have shared since the beginning).

There’s a lot going on as it starts to get warm…as the snow melts and the streams start to overflow. The waters are intense with the spring freshet from the thaw from up in the mountains where the snow is melting, coming down all the way into the valley and pushing out into the ocean. It’s such an amazing display of Nature’s power. The wetlands and flood plains in the fields and forests are bursting with life. During this time, the frogs and turtles are becoming very active. Watch for the turtles as they line up on logs and bask in the sun.  Observe the red-winged blackbirds filling the cat-tail edges of the wetlands; notice the red and yellow field marks on the wings of the male as they display their dominance for prime real estate.

The birds are singing their springs songs. The wildflowers are growing up and coloring the landscape. The insects are hatching. In the stream, watch for mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies emerging.  And watch for those red-winged blackbirds ready to snatch up a flying meal.

Snake

Snakes aren’t slimy…”they have scales, cool!”

The snakes are coming out of their hibernaculum–the place where they spend the winter…sometimes it’s under a culvert or in a pile of rocks. We see them moving around, sometimes 12 to 14 snakes all at once, soaking up the sun and basking. They’re endothermic, which means they’re cold blooded, and they cannot generate their own heat like we can; they need the warmth of the sun.

 

What the Mammals Are Doing
These warm days are great opportunities to be able to see the animals raising their young; fox and weasels have kits while coyotes and bats have pups; rabbits have leverets; porcupines have porcupettes; bobcats and beavers have kittens; bears have cubs and deer have fawn.

In their multiple color phases like sandy and charcoal gray, red fox kits are developing their black boots, black ears and their white-tipped tail (which distinguishes them as a red fox); they begin to learn how to adapt to their forest home with their amazing camouflage and all their senses being fully developed.   The young bears are learning how to forage, turning over logs and feeding on insects, and they are learning how to use their new claws as they learn to climb trees for safety and fun. Have you ever seen a cub climb a tree—it’s very cute to watch!

Red Fox

Wow! there it is

A leveret (baby rabbit) found stuck in bushes and released by earth stewards.

There are so many things happening:  squirrels and otters, coyotes and beaver–they all have young to raise and feed. Some of these animal babies are born with their eyes closed and their ears not being able to hear and the only thing they can do is smell, while others are born with their eyes open, furred and are ready to go, like a snowshoe hare.

So off you go “into the outdoors” either by yourself, or with family and friends, to connect deeper to where we live in this exciting explosion of activity…the springtime.  See you in the woods.


How to Be a Mentor for a Child’s Immersion in Nature

Just Add Kids and Nature

leave shelterThe first thing you want to keep in mind is that you want to create a safe learning environment for your child or students to interact with their surroundings. It is important that children have ample opportunities to be stimulated by direct experience. This is a special place that you visit over and over for continuity, so you develop a relationship with that place.

leave shelter young girl

Examples include sitting near your backyard birdfeeder, a place on a hill with a good lookout so you can see animals moving if you’re still and quiet, bury them in leaf piles, stick forts and sculptures to allow the imagination to express itself, a stream to explore. Maybe bring to a beaver pond to see nature’s engineers. Immerse your children in Nature. Spend a few hours (or all day!) outside on a hike, in playful exploration.

group of kids in leaves

Explore the 5 Senses

Once you’re out there in the fields and woods, allow yourself and your children to take in all the sights and sounds and smells. Pause. Take a deep slow breath. What do you smell on the wind? What does the wind feel like on your face? What do you hear? What do you see?

goose tracks

Surrounded by the birds and insects or the trees or the leaves or the snow or whatever the elements of Nature provide, there is sure to be a bounty of ways that children can reach out and engage with the great outdoors.

Ask your children to share what they are seeing. What does the landscape look like? Do they know whether they are near a wetland? How do they know? Can they feel they are going uphill? Would they like to roll down it?

It is really important to have them to full engage their senses as they explore. Touch, smell, look, listen, taste. All those different senses are the doorway to connection.

The Gift of the Present

Be in the present moment, allowing them and yourself to be completely in the “here and now.” Let those pesky thoughts of “what are we doing for dinner?” or “I need to make time for homework” or “when are they having a play date with so-and-so?” – whatever the brain clutter is—pass. By creating a space to experience Nature in the present moment; you are gifting yourself and your children. You are opening up a moment to just be a “human being” rather than “human doing.” This is incredibly healing as well as healthy to teach our children how to be in the world.

Ask Questions

making a fire on snowA mentor does not need to have all the answers. In fact, you actually don’t even need to have any of the answers. Some of most powerful experiences people have are stimulated by questions. For example, when they hear a bird, stop, listen, look. Ask, “Do you hear that sound? Where is it coming from?” Pause. Allow your child the time to listen and look around. Then add, “Can you point to that sound?” This engages your child in an adventure, in a quest of being able to find that sound. “Can you copy the sound?” Take turns attempting to mimic the sound; this opens up a space for deep listening. The same thing that can be done for animal tracks. “What is that? Is it bigger or smaller than your hand? Where did it come from?” Get down on the ground close to the tracks. “Can you tell which way the tracks are going? Can you see how many digits are in the track?” This also opens the door for using resources. Take a picture. When you get back, you can look through resources to find out who made those tracks.

Your Intention, Their Passion

Discover what your children are jazzed about. What excites them? Listen to their stories and listen for clues so that you can better facilitate experiences to further their learning in their areas of interest.

exploration

Consider, what is your intention? What do you hope for them to get out of this experience when you take them into the woods? Begin with the end in mind. Your goal as a mentor is for your children to find their own place of discovery. Create that for them. Help them feel connected. Help them to understand that they are connected to something that is beyond words and beyond them. Provide an outlet for them to feel a sense of peacefulness in nature and sense of belonging.

As you discover your children’s passions, it is time to look down the road at what other experiences you can put in front of them to engage in. Each activity helps them to work the edge of their knowledge to bring them deeper into engagement.

Work Your Edge

Create your own learning environment to continue your studies in your areas of interest. Explore the woods on your own. Have access to a library of resources. Have something to share. For example, the other day, I was walking within six feet of a moose. I was so silent; the moose walked right up to me and didn’t even know I was there. Now I can ask the kids, “Can you tell how far six feet is? Do you know how big a moose is? Do you know where you might find a moose?”

Remember, it is your own inspiring stories that inspire your children to share theirs. Now listen.

Until next time, enjoy your journey into the outdoors

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

F&M Great Swamp FallAs we walk into the forest, we see all the different types trees, and we know, somehow, that they all have a purpose in life, just like we do. We notice many have lost their leaves this time of year, and the forest looks completely different—kind of empty because you can see so far, and it is very open. However, that is just the surface; let’s look closer.

The conifers take center stage with their deep green and contrast to the snow; while they do shed their needles, they are primarily green all year, which is why they are called “evergreens.”

Using touch—reach out and feel the needles

hemlock branchWhen we reach out and feel the needles, and when we rubbed them in our hands and smell, there is that amazing pine scent reminiscent of a Christmas tree—that strong aroma that can remind us of the holidays.

Visual things to watch for

As we look even closer, we notice really short needles (less than an inch) that are flat and on the underside, there are distinct white lines like racing stripes; this is an excellent identification characteristic. It also has the tiniest little stem you can barely see. In botanical terms, when you look it up in your field guide, this is called a “petiole.”

Feel the texture of the bark

These trees have really smooth bark when very young, and as they get older, it becomes stiff and deeply furrowed (creating indented grooves). Look at many different trees—young and old—and compare the feeling of the bark, and how the young ones are really tender and the older ones are like a rock.

hemlock 2Natural history viewing our past

In the 1800s, Eastern hemlock (Tsuga Canadenses) was used heavily; these trees would be anywhere from 250 to 800 years old. They were harvested in great numbers and were sought after for a special quality they possess: great amounts of tannic acid—up to 12%—used for tanning hides and preserving leather; the outer bark was used and soaked. Some of the hides were kept in vats (barrels of soaking tannins) for up to six months in order for them to turn the dark tea color and create a preserve and coloring for the produced leather. Hemlock tanneries were all over the Northeast, and they shipped the hides from here all over the world.

What I have personally seen, and you can too!

hemlock 1In the picture, you can see the needles and the bark. You can see underneath the very outer light brown bark, there is a dark purple color; this is a great characteristic for being able to identify Eastern hemlock.

What use are these trees now? They are a tremendous resource for wildlife: the needles create shade to give animals and birds cover. So they are used for nesting, denning and protection from the elements.

I often find many deer and moose in these areas…tracks, signs and tons of “browse” (feeding sign). This is where deer “yard up” (all stay in same area communally); this helps create safety in numbers and helps avoid being surprised by coyotes. It also makes it easier for them to move, because they pack down the snow to conserve their energy during these hard winter months.

I’ve also found coyotes’ beds, which look like circles; the heat from the coyote’s body melts out the impression of its nose where he/she is melting snow with the breath.

Outdoor challenge and scavenger hunt you can do with your children

See if you can find the interior bark that is purple. Hint: When you look around at the base of the tree, you can see the flakey bark chips; look under there.

Tracks and sign: if you look on the very tops of the branches, close to the trunk, you will often see squirrel territorial teeth marking sign, or going up a mature tree, you can see the claw marks and sometime bite marks of our black bears climbing since they use Eastern hemlock as babysitter trees (mama sends her cubs up them in times of danger or when she is away for long periods).

And at the bottom of the hemlocks, underneath the dense needles protecting from the wind and elements, you can find deer, fox, moose and bear beds. Let’s not forget the calling cards of raccoon and porcupine too—scat!

If you find little holes and black powder on the ground and through the roots, it’s possible you have found Truffles (fungus).

Can you find the little Hemlock cones that look like little tiny pine cones—about ½ inch. Can you find the racing stripes on the underside of the needles?

mentor winter ask questions earthwork programs

Winter Survival Program (during School Vacation) day 1 (Tue)

Register early & prepay for all 4 days & receive sliding-scale discount option @ $264-$280/child for 4 days.

If not available for the 4 days, your child can attend @ $72/day prepaid (2-day minimum)

 

Ages 8 and older (limit 8)

Experience the WILD in winter in our beautiful forest and fields! While spending lots of time outdoors, we will

  • track animals and find the special places of the fox, deer, bobcat and others…we will get a glimpse of their secret winter life.
  • build winter shelters: a quinzee, a lean to, a zarsky…various methods to stay warm and dry.
  • test our fire-making skills in the snow…we will help each other learn the best techniques with and without matches, then bask in the warmth of our accomplishments in our wilderness home.

We will enjoy hanging out around the fire, staying warm in shelters that we make, eating lunch and sharing cool stories and other natural mysteries.

Bonus: we will also learn about ice safety and hypothermia and how to stay safe outdoors in the winter. We will pick up strategies of staying warm by playing games and other activities.

All of this for $264-$280, sliding scale, for 4 days! If not available for the 4-day Program, 2-day minimum at $72/day, sliding scale.

REGISTER ONLINE

Winter Survival Program (during School Vacation) day 2 (Wed)

Register early & prepay for all 4 days & receive sliding-scale discount option @ $264-$280/child for 4 days.

If not available for the 4 days, your child can attend @ $72/day prepaid (2-day minimum)

 

Ages 8 and older (limit 8)

Experience the WILD in winter in our beautiful forest and fields! While spending lots of time outdoors, we will

  • track animals and find the special places of the fox, deer, bobcat and others…we will get a glimpse of their secret winter life.
  • build winter shelters: a quinzee, a lean to, a zarsky…various methods to stay warm and dry.
  • test our fire-making skills in the snow…we will help each other learn the best techniques with and without matches, then bask in the warmth of our accomplishments in our wilderness home.

We will enjoy hanging out around the fire, staying warm in shelters that we make, eating lunch and sharing cool stories and other natural mysteries.

Bonus: we will also learn about ice safety and hypothermia and how to stay safe outdoors in the winter. We will pick up strategies of staying warm by playing games and other activities.

All of this for $264-$280, sliding scale, for 4 days! If not available for the 4-day Program, 2-day minimum at $72/day, sliding scale.

REGISTER ONLINE

Winter Survival Program (during School Vacation) day 3 (Thu)

Register early & prepay for all 4 days & receive sliding-scale discount option @ $264-$280/child for 4 days.

If not available for the 4 days, your child can attend @ $72/day prepaid (2-day minimum)

 

Ages 8 and older (limit 8)

Experience the WILD in winter in our beautiful forest and fields! While spending lots of time outdoors, we will

  • track animals and find the special places of the fox, deer, bobcat and others…we will get a glimpse of their secret winter life.
  • build winter shelters: a quinzee, a lean to, a zarsky…various methods to stay warm and dry.
  • test our fire-making skills in the snow…we will help each other learn the best techniques with and without matches, then bask in the warmth of our accomplishments in our wilderness home.

We will enjoy hanging out around the fire, staying warm in shelters that we make, eating lunch and sharing cool stories and other natural mysteries.

Bonus: we will also learn about ice safety and hypothermia and how to stay safe outdoors in the winter. We will pick up strategies of staying warm by playing games and other activities.

All of this for $264-$280, sliding scale, for 4 days! If not available for the 4-day Program, 2-day minimum at $72/day, sliding scale.

REGISTER ONLINE

Winter Survival Program (during School Vacation) day 4 (Fri)

Register early & prepay for all 4 days & receive sliding-scale discount option @ $264-$280/child for 4 days.

If not available for the 4 days, your child can attend @ $72/day prepaid (2-day minimum)

 

Ages 8 and older (limit 8)

Experience the WILD in winter in our beautiful forest and fields! While spending lots of time outdoors, we will

  • track animals and find the special places of the fox, deer, bobcat and others…we will get a glimpse of their secret winter life.
  • build winter shelters: a quinzee, a lean to, a zarsky…various methods to stay warm and dry.
  • test our fire-making skills in the snow…we will help each other learn the best techniques with and without matches, then bask in the warmth of our accomplishments in our wilderness home.

We will enjoy hanging out around the fire, staying warm in shelters that we make, eating lunch and sharing cool stories and other natural mysteries.

Bonus: we will also learn about ice safety and hypothermia and how to stay safe outdoors in the winter. We will pick up strategies of staying warm by playing games and other activities.

All of this for $264-$280, sliding scale, for 4 days! If not available for the 4-day Program, 2-day minimum at $72/day, sliding scale.

REGISTER ONLINE

ice safety winter wilderness skills homeschool vacation children

Winter Survival Program (during Vacation) –All 4 Days (Tue-Fri)

Register & prepay by 2/12 for all 4 days (Tue-Fri) & receive sliding-scale discount option @ $264-$280/child for 4 days.

If not available for the 4 days, your child can attend @ $72/day (2-day minimum)

 

Ages 8 and up (limit 8)

Tuesday, 2/16, through Friday, 2/19

9:00 am-3:00 pm

Experience the WILD in winter in our beautiful forest and fields! While spending lots of time outdoors, we will

  • track animals and find the special places of the fox, deer, bobcat and others…we will get a glimpse of their secret winter life.
  • build winter shelters: a quinzee, a lean to, a zarsky…various methods to stay warm and dry.
  • test our fire-making skills in the snow…we will help each other learn the best techniques with and without matches, then bask in the warmth of our accomplishments in our wilderness home.

We will enjoy hanging out around the fire, staying warm in shelters that we make, sharing lunch and cool stories and other natural mysteries.

Bonus: we will also learn about ice safety and hypothermia and how to stay safe outdoors in the winter. We will pick up strategies of staying warm by playing games and other activities.

All of this for $264-$280, sliding scale, for 4 days! (if pay by 2/12; after 2/12, $280/4 days).

If not available for the 4-day Program, 2-day minimum at $72/day.

REGISTER ONLINE

call 413-340-1161 for more information.

Way of the Scout

way of scout 14Monday, August 1-Friday, August 5, 2016, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., with an overnight Thursday-Friday!
$380-$430, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.
10+ year olds who have attended At Home in the Woods or 1 of our seasonal Programs

Wilderness Skills and Martial Arts

Limited Spots! (10)
REGISTER HERE

While attending our At Home in the Woods Summer Programs, your children learn wilderness skills that the “village” does together.

In Way of the Scout, your children learn how to develop proficiency with their own skills. They will practice:
* advanced firemaking, shelter building and camouflage
* blindfold activities
* learning to listen to inner vision…meditation
* water stalking
* night movement (how to move in the night without a flashlight)
* calling in owls
* campfire stalking

They will learn martial arts movements, animal forms, advanced stalking and stick fighting (a way to learn balance, coordination and strength). Warriorship training is not about war…it’s about being able to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves…very empowering for all!

With a close-knit community, we will all help each other grow into the Way of the Scout.

SUMMER CAMPS 2016 SCHEDULE

ALL Summer Camps (Leader in Training, At Home in the Woods, Way of the Scout and Hunter-Gatherer) are held in Conway, MA.

All weeks are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EXCEPT JULY 4 WEEK–Tuesday, 7/5-Friday, 7/8.

June 20-24: At Home in the Woods SC1, ages 7+
June 27- July 1: At Home in the Woods SC2, ages 7+
July 5-8 (Tuesday-Friday): At Home in the Woods SC3, ages 7+ ($252-$300, sliding scale, for 4 days)
July 11-15: At Home in the Woods SC4, ages 7+
July 18-22: At Home in the Woods SC5, ages 5 to 7 AND 7+
July 25-July 29: At Home in the Woods SC6, ages 7+
August 15-August 19: At Home in the Woods SC7, ages 7+

(As weeks fill, we will note **FULL** and will start waitlists for those Programs.)

Unless noted, all weeks are $315-$375, sliding scale, per child per week ($150 nonrefundable deposit due upon registration)

———————————————————————————————-

SPECIFICALLY FOR PRETEENS & TEENS:

Leader in Training 2016–July 5-8 (Tuesday-Friday): Leader in Training*, ages 12+. $252-$300, sliding scale, per child (FOR 4 DAYS) ($150 nonrefundable deposit due upon registration).
* Leader in Training: Specifically for those interested in becoming a peer mentor (see below for more)
Way of the Scout—August 1-5, ages 10+ (pre-requisite: child must attend At Home in the Woods or an Earthwork Programs weekly seasonal Program prior to attending). $380-$430, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.
Hunter-Gatherer—August 8-12, ages 12+. $315-$375, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.

Hunter-Gatherer

Making a BowMonday, August 8-Friday, August 12, 2016, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
$315-$375, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.
For Preteens & Teens

Introduction to hunting and gathering.
Learn how to skin an animal, process wild food, primitive cooking, make net bags and cordage, primitive fishing (stone and bone tools). As time permits, we may work on bows.

REGISTER HERE

SUMMER CAMPS 2016 SCHEDULE

ALL Summer Camps (Leader in Training, At Home in the Woods, Way of the Scout and Hunter-Gatherer) are held in Conway, MA.

All weeks are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EXCEPT JULY 4 WEEK–Tuesday, 7/5-Friday, 7/8.

June 20-24: At Home in the Woods SC1, ages 7+
June 27- July 1: At Home in the Woods SC2, ages 7+
July 5-8 (Tuesday-Friday): At Home in the Woods SC3, ages 7+ ($252-$300, sliding scale, for 4 days)
July 11-15: At Home in the Woods SC4, ages 7+
July 18-22: At Home in the Woods SC5, ages 5 to 7 AND 7+
July 25-July 29: At Home in the Woods SC6, ages 7+
August 15-August 19: At Home in the Woods SC7, ages 7+

(As weeks fill, we will note **FULL** and will start waitlists for those Programs.)

Unless noted, all weeks are $315-$375, sliding scale, per child per week ($150 nonrefundable deposit due upon registration)

———————————————————————————————-

SPECIFICALLY FOR PRETEENS & TEENS:

Leader in Training 2016–July 5-8 (Tuesday-Friday): Leader in Training*, ages 12+. $252-$300, sliding scale, per child (FOR 4 DAYS) ($150 nonrefundable deposit due upon registration).
* Leader in Training: Specifically for those interested in becoming a peer mentor (see below for more)
Way of the Scout—August 1-5, ages 10+ (pre-requisite: child must attend At Home in the Woods or an Earthwork Programs weekly seasonal Program prior to attending). $380-$430, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.
Hunter-Gatherer—August 8-12, ages 12+. $315-$375, sliding scale; $150 nonrefundable deposit required.

Page 1 of 212