Rockin' Salamanders (Session 6, July 20)

By Sandy Schenck

Session 6 is rocking along here!  Campers and staff went out on our first mentor hikes this morning; campers are split up into mentor groups, and they hike each day with the same group.  The groups come up with names for themselves, and the group who went up to Uncle’s Falls today named themselves the Rockin’ Salamanders; while up at Uncle’s, not only did they “polar bear” (stand under the waterfall for as long as it takes to yell “polar bear” three times), they also saw tons of salamanders, quite a few crawfish, and a snake.  There’s actually a cave up there, to the left behind the waterfall, and if you want to see a salamander, that is the place to go!  We do think salamanders rock…  Another group creekwhacked (sort of like bushwhacking, except hiking up a creek) up Big Laurel Creek to the Spire—a promontory with a gorgeous view of the Green River Valley.  Creekwhacking takes a lot of teamwork, communication, and persistence, and our campers rose to the challenge today.  They also saw a lot of crawfish, as well as a frog and a black rat-snake.  Other campers visited the Indian Cave, so named since local legend holds that Native Americans used to use it as a hiding place.  There are three rooms in the cave; to get into one of them, you have to slide on your stomach through a narrow tunnel.  We talk about our senses in the cave, trying out turning out all flashlights and headlights and seeing what it’s like to be in pitch-black darkness.  Other campers stayed at Base Camp; they split their morning between the climbing tower and the Pioneer Cabin.  Campers did their best to get to the top of the tower, while at the Pioneer Cabin, they practiced making fire with flint and steel—not too easy, actually, so those who were able to do so should feel proud!

After lunch, we all enjoyed rest hour, and then campers started their first round of activities.  In canoeing, campers learned the basics—strokes, how to hold the paddle (“T-grip!!”), terms like bow and stern—then they paddled around; they practiced those strokes by playing canoe-tag.  In field games, they relived the glory of last night, playing another game of Capture the Flag; then they switched that up for some Ultimate Frisbee.  In gardening, they took a tour of our garden and tasted some of the produce.  Green beans are so good right now!  In pottery, some campers began throwing pots on the wheel, and others, taking hand pottery, were making whistles and butterflies.  In archery, after campers learned safety protocol, they took aim.  We have standard targets, and we also have a cool moving target—it’s a styrofoam replica of a wild boar, and it slides down a string, and campers shoot, trying to hit it (and then the staff member pulls it back up).  Today, we actually had a couple of campers hit it—now that’s a good shot!

After dinner, we went up to the Upper Council Fire, one of our more ceremonial evening programs.  We open the fire by reading the four Woodcrafter Laws; these were written by Earnest Seaton, a founder of the Boy Scouts, around 1900, and they encapsulate values related to Truth, Beauty, Fortitude, and Love.  For instance, Love tells us to “Be kind.  Do at least one act of unbargaining service each day.  Be helpful.  Do your share of the work.  Be joyful.  Seek the joy of being alive.”  We also hear an excerpt from “Chief Seattle’s Letter”; whether this text was actually written by Chief Seattle in response to President Pierce’s request to purchase land is not certain, but it is certain that it is an eloquent ecological statement.  We sang some songs, and we finished the evening with a story from Bob, one of our mentors.

You’ll find pictures from today here; we’ll let you know where we rock and roll to tomorrow!