Polar Bears and the Woodcraft Laws
By Sandy Schenck
What a beautiful day we had earlier today at the Green River Preserve!! The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and a light breeze was blowing (photos online). Campers enjoyed their first breakfast at camp—pancakes, blueberries, bacon… and we always have a cereal bar, too, with a selection of cereals, yogurt, and fruit. After breakfast, campers and staff headed out on their first mentor hikes. They were on the lookout for amazing things, and they saw amazing things!
One group hiked up to Uncle’s Falls—one of our favorite hikes at camp. Uncle’s Falls is home to a bazillion salamanders, and sure enough, when they arrived at the Falls, there was a big fat salamander hanging out next to the pool. Campers and staff who were brave enough participated in a tradition at Uncle’s Falls—“polar-bearing”—you stand under the waterfall for as long as it takes you to yell “POLAR BEAR! POLAR BEAR! POLAR BEAR!” A chilly rite of passage! Another group reported that on their hike to the Upper Bald, they witnessed a giant dragonfly eating a bumblebee. This group also tasted ants; black ants taste tart, lemon-y or orange-y, because of their high citric acid content. Insects and foraging for food seem to have been themes on the hikes today, as another group encountered an ant carrying an almond, another group got to taste some wild strawberries, and another group saw an immature stickbug, a rarer sight than adult or mature stickbugs. It’s a good thing our campers and staff have such keen eyes….
After lunch, campers enjoyed a well-deserved rest hour, and then they began their first round of activity rotations. At the GRP, we love insects so much that we have a whole activity centered around them—in “A Bug’s Life,” campers catch and learn about some of the local insects, such as leaf-cutter bugs, skipper butterflies, click beetles, and ladybugs. Campers also took to the canoe lake, paddling around and playing tag after learning their strokes. Campers who were in drawing and painting moved outside, taking their inspiration from nature. In drumming, campers learned basic rhythms, echoing their leaders, and then they put it all together. We also had a group fly-fishing in the Upper Pond, practicing their casts and enjoying the sun. Our theater activity practiced miming, visiting other activities and imitating them—even our chickens got mimed!
Tonight’s evening program was the Upper Council Fire. Tonight’s Upper Council Fire was moved inside, due to rain that began drizzling around dinnertime, but campers and staff alike still enjoyed this more ceremonial campfire program. The Upper Council Fire begins with staff reading aloud our Woodcraft Laws.* Then we hear readings that have inspired various members of our community, from sources such as Annie Dillard, John Muir, and Eric Carle, and we sing songs. The campfire closes with a story from Bob.
So now it’s off to bed and rest, so we can be ready for another dazzling day tomorrow. Good night!
Beauty, Truth, Fortitude, Love—these words represent the Woodcraft Laws, an integral part of the Green River Preserve culture. We ask all members of our community to “Be clean, both yourself and the place you live in”—Beauty; to “Play Fair,” since “Word of honor is sacred”—Truth; to “Be brave,” for “Courage is the noblest of all attainments”—Fortitude; and to “Be kind. Do at least one act of unbargaining service each day”—Love. Our Woodcraft Laws are based on Woodcraft Laws drafted by Ernest Seaton, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America.