Truth, Beauty, Fortitude, and Love (Session 6, July 23)

By Sandy Schenck

Here at The Green River Preserve, we do our best to live by the Woodcraft Laws (written by Earnest Seaton, founder of the Boy Scouts):  Beauty, Truth, Fortitude, and Love.  Beauty tells us to “Be clean, both yourself and the place you live in….  Be a friend of all wildlife.  Conserve land, forest, and flowers….”  Truth tells us “Word of honor is sacred.  Play fair.  Foul play is treachery….”  From Fortitude,  we learn to “Be brave.  Courage is the noblest of all attainments….”  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.”  Today, we had a lot of beauty, truth, fortitude, and love going on at the GRP!

After breakfast, we headed out on mentor hikes.  One group trekked up to Emerald Falls, a beautiful waterfall on the Preserve.  Along the way, they saw a lot of turkey tail mushrooms—these mushrooms grow along tree trunks, and they are a beige and brown-colored, fan-shaped growth; they look like turkey tails.  They also saw a small pool with lots of tiny, baby salamanders—cute!  As we learn about the wildlife around us and appreciate its beauty, we also learn about the importance of conserving it.  The group who went to the Balds enjoyed the view; they, too, saw some interesting wildlife—a broadwing hawk soaring overhead and a copperhead snake (so now we’re up to 3! venomous snakes for this session).  The group who went down to Hemlock Field found lots of cool bugs in the Green River; they also saw a praying mantis and gigantic black snake.  Lots of animals out and about today; even at the Climbing Tower, a praying mantis was taking on the challenge of trying to get to the top—like many of our campers!  We admired its fortitude, and tried to emulate it.  Some campers hiked out to Fawn Lake, where they enjoyed a dip in the lake; they also tried “counting coup” on the group who went out to our Reasonover site.  “Counting coup” is a kind of stalking; you watch a group go by without being observed yourself.  They were seen by the Reasonover group—but only because the Reasonover group had successfully counted coup on them earlier, and so they knew they were coming!  (In the game of counting coup, that’s fair play!)  Our Indian Cave group had perhaps the most significant find of the morning; we have just this summer blazed a trail from up there back to Base Camp, and hiking down the new trail back to camp, they discovered a new gravesite—one grave just feet off the trail, and then when they looked around, they found a few more.  We’ll keep investigating and see if we can find out more about this new site of archaeological interest on the Preserve, and do what we can to preserve it, respecting those who have gone before us.

When everyone returned from mentor hikes, we gathered at the Lodge for lunch.  At every meal, one cabin comes early to set the tables, and then they stay after to sweep and take the ort (organic recyclable trash—aka food waste) out to the compost pile.  This way, cabins help camp stay clean; today, it was Trailing Cedars’ turn to perform this “act of unbargaining service” at lunch.  Beauty and love.  Thank you, Trailing Cedars!

After lunch—grilled cheese, tomato bisque, peaches, eggplant fries (so good!!), and salad bar—and rest hour, we went to activities.  Our climbers showed lots of fortitude, and not just in climbing up the tower.  When a rainstorm hit in the middle of the afternoon, we had to move inside the Lodge.  They tackled the criss-cross high ropes element that we have set up there, and several campers tried (and succeeded in) ascending the rope—climbing the rope itself, using friction knots or prusiks.  It’s very hard to do, so they were brave to even try.  In Low Challenge Course, campers worked together to get a camper through the “spider web.”  This requires bravery, and cooperation—love, really, since everyone must “do your share of the work.”  In fencing, they rehearsed fortitude as well, as they became dragonslayers, protecting the land from the menacing monsters.  In creative writing, campers were brave in a different creative way, daring to stretch their imagination in a direction suggested by someone else; they were given the names of colors—peach, burnt sienna, fuchsia—and they had to create a character who fit that color.  Then they shared what they had come up with.

After dinner—pirate night tonight!!  all dressed up like pirates, and the Lodge, too!—evening program was staff hunt.  Campers go around in cabin groups (accompanied by a staff member), and when they find a staff member who’s hiding, they are given three tries to get their name right.  If they get it, the staff member goes with them to “jail”—the dock at the swim lake.  At the end of the evening, cabins get to choose which jailed staff member they want to see jump in the lake.  Campers and staff alike played fairly and honored their word—truth.

You will find pictures here of our day, as we sought the joy of being alive.  Love.