Ecstatic Pioneer Days! At camp… (Session 2 June 16)

By Sandy Schenck

Today started off sunny and gorgeous; we all met in the Lodge for breakfast—biscuits, sausage, veggie sausage, cereal bar, fresh fruit, butter and jelly for the biscuits.  After breakfast, we also have morning skits—the ORT Report (organic recyclable trash—aka food waste, or how much we have of it), Word of the Day, and Bird of the Day.  During today’s Bird of the Day skit, we had a special visit from Gertie the Birdie Nerdie.  (We have a multi-talented staff, and acting is one of the many talents that abound here!)  Today, we learned about the brown-headed nuthatch, and our Word of the Day was “ecstatic”!

One of the cool things about the GRP is that not only are we getting back to nature, we’re also learning about some of the ways people in past ages or other cultures might have done things.  For mentor hikes, we again had groups headed to the Pioneer Cabin and the Climbing Tower.  At the Pioneer Cabin, they tried making fire using the flint and steel method—you take some rope, untwist it and fray it up so it’s loose in your hand, lay a piece of char-cloth on it, and set it on a stone.  Then you knock the steel against the flint, trying to get sparks onto the frayed rope and char-cloth.  Once a spark lands and catches the rope, you blow on it until it ignites into fire.  It’s actually pretty hard to do, and campers who are able to light fire this way feel that they have accomplished something special.  Another mentor hike group headed down to our farm, where they spent some time harvesting squash, zucchini, and tomatoes.  That produce will turn up on our dinner table soon.  Another group helped complete the Tipi, staking down the canvas that had been laid over the poles previously, to help make it more weatherproof.  Then they went out looking for cordage material—wet tulip poplar bark, the inner layer, that you tear into long, very thin strips and then twist, and then twist together, to make a thin rope that is surprisingly strong.  Our groups who hiked Upper Bald to Lower Bald and Lower Bald to Upper Bald practiced “counting coup” on each other—seeing if they could spot the other group without being spotted themselves.  (You can see pictures from today here!)

After lunch and rest hour, campers started a new round of activities.  While fencing could not meet outside (rain set in again after lunch—rain, rain, go away!), they just moved to the Lodge, where they practiced their parries and thrusts amid the tables.  Creative writing met on the porch of the Craft Lodge; among other exercises, they wrote a couple of sentences, and then tried to draw a picture of what they had written.  This helps writers think about visualizing what they are trying to articulate, which in turn helps them to articulate more precisely.  Several campers are taking guitar, and as they put it, they “rocked out” today.  In the break in the storm, campers taking “A Bug’s Life” collected several really cool looking bugs—dead and alive.  They found a couple of millipedes and a centipede (live), and some butterflies and moths (dead).

Tonight, we met in the Lodge for the Lower Council Fire.  This evening program is a little more casual than the Upper Council Fire, with a variety of campers and staff contributing stories and music.  We all sang “Good Old Mountain Dew” and “Mud” together, and one camper playedBeethoven’s “Fur Elise” on the piano, and another played “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles on the clarinet.  One of our co-counselors played an Avett Brothers song, “Laundry Room.”   We heard a couple of stories, and one of our mentors performed a Maori haka.

Tomorrow is a big day at The Green River Preserve—getting ready for and heading out on camp-out!  Lots to look forward to…