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Week One of Summer Camp 2017!

Sarah Chaffee, July 1, 2017

Archer's Apprentice

Members of Archer's Apprentice made their camp at the isolated Raccoon Motel. After making their own bows out of honeysuckle and arrows from willow, these campers got to put their archery skills to the test with a Sacred Hunt. The hunt involved watermelon, face paint and a special ceremony that made them real archers!

Shep, one of the instructors for Archer's Apprentice, teaching a group of attentive campers about arrows.

A young archer practicing his form.

A camper helping breathe a fire to life.

Base Camp

Honey Bee Clan

The Honey Bee Clan had the youngest group of campers at one of the most remote campsites at 4-H Acres- the Beaver Dam. This curious group spent their week exploring the creek that was next to their base camp, making fires and practicing their cordage skills. They also learned how to make shelters fit for humans and fairies. The Honey Bees enjoyed participating in some epic games with their fellow clans and loved exercising their wild imaginations during free-play.

Willem, a Jr. Counselor for the Honey Bee Clan, sitting with a camper during Opening Circle.

A camper having a good time during free-play.

On Friday the clan gathered pine needles in a large metal pot and some honey for tea. Later they made a fire to warm up their pot and enjoyed their warm, home-made drink.

Liz, an instructor, helping a camper harvest pine needles for tea.

Yellow Jacket Clan

The Yellow Jacket Clan built their base camp at Cedar Camp where they set up a tarp and built numerous shelters out of sticks, leaves and bark. They had fun exploring the creek and found many aquatic critters including crawfish and salamanders. The Yellow Jacket Clan loved to play running games, with Capture the Flag being one of their favorites.

A camper working on a shelter.

Campers enjoying a running game.

Mud Wasps Clan

The Mud Wasps Clan built their base camp in the Ash Groves and spent the majority of the week working on shelters within their campsite. They also enjoyed finding and identifying bugs, free-play and meeting up with other clans to play games.

A camper relaxing in a shelter frame he built.

A camper holding a slug she found under a log.

Carpenter Bees Clan

The Carpenter Bees Clan were an incredibly adventurous group! They had a new base camp every day and explored the far corners of 4-H Acres- sometimes going from one end of 4-H to the other in just one day! While in their numerous base camps they spent time learning how to build shelters and make and put-out fires responsibly.

A Carpenter Bee enjoying an indoor rhythm game during a thunderstorm.

On Friday there was an Epic Celebration for the Base Camp tribe that involved a feast of watermelon, apples and popcorn. Their party concluded with an intense game of Capture the Flag, campers vs. counselors, in which the campers won...repeatedly.

Campers capture Gaelen, a Jr. Counselor, during an epic game of Capture the Flag.

Bear Camp

Bear Camp at the Arnot Forest saw its largest group of campers this week with twenty excited and adventurous kids. These campers spent a lot of time practicing their crafting skills on spoons, cordage made from plants and knives constructed from rock. One camper even made four spoons! They also were lucky enough to see an abundance of wildlife. One camper spotted a female turkey while others saw a tiny fawn nearby.

Two campers playing an intense game of camouflage.

A camper searching for dry, dead wood for a fire.

On Tuesday night the campers pitched their tents and gathered wood for a fire. Jesse told them an epic tale of some hungry trolls and a brave fox and afterwards played a game based on this story. While the counselors, pretending to be trolls hungry for children, gathered around the fire, the campers awaited in the darkness trying to grab orange bandanas placed strategically on tree branches close to the fire. In order to win, the campers had to successfully grab all of the bandanas without the trolls noticing. The camp was filled with laughter, especially when the counselors spoke in their "troll-voices."

Marina, an instructor at Bear Camp, tending to the fire.

Jesse, another Bear Camp instructor, sitting by the fire during the "troll game".

One of the best parts of Bear Camp was that campers were able to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with people, forming relationships and making new friends every night by the campfire.

Making friends by firelight.

Coyote Camp

Counselors in Training, also known as CITs, participated in a week-long camp at the YMCA Outdoor Education Area. At Coyote Camp, CITs learned how to use the "mentoring wheel" as a model for leadership by making a physical representation of the wheel.

A smiling CIT.

A CIT enjoying the forest at the YMCA Outdoor Education Area.

The instructors, Zak, Cindy and Paul, honored the personal learning goals of the CITs and helped them practice their bow drill skills and plant identification. Half of the group ended the week by spending a chilly night in the forest.

Zak, a Coyote Camp instructor.

Cindy, another Coyote Camp instructor.

Gifts of the Deer

The Gifts of the Deer campers were hard-workers. It takes an incredible amount of energy, time and patience to process and make deer hides and these kids did great!

A camper working on a deer hide.

They spent Monday and Tuesday scraping off fur and flesh from their hides. By Thursday they were stretching and and softening them and on Friday they each went home with their own buckskin!

A camper wearing a finished hide.

Growing Wild

This week Growing Wild explored the theme "Colors and Stories." The campers learned how to use colors as a way to express themselves and tell stories. They participated in lots of face-painting and even made a mural on a door at Trillium Camp.

Barbara Ann, an instructor, with two campers next to their colorful mural at Trillium Camp.

A camper getting face-painted.

Growing Wild also had several cooking projects and enjoyed some wild edibles from their "hidden garden." They also did some bird watching, collected worms and millipedes and enjoyed lots of free-play.

Zach, an instructor, singing a song with Growing Wild campers.


On Monday the Trailblazers took a trip back in time by visiting a cemetery in Trumansburg. While there, the group noticed headstones dating back to the 1800s as well as some large tree trunks. The campers tried to count the rings on the trees to determine which was older, the cemetery or the tree. Their conclusion, after struggling to count the hundreds of tree rings, was that the tree was most likely older.

Britta, a Trailblazers' instructor, talking with a camper.

A camper doing a natural charcoal rub on a headstone.

They also spent time exploring one of the only old-growth forests in Tompkins County that was adjacent to the cemetery. There they collected bark to make journals and did a blindfolded walk through the forest. They also discovered a secret "portal" to another dimension!

Jenn leads her campers on a blindfolded sensory walk.

A camper bravely entering the secret portal.

They spent the rest of the week traveling to a new location everyday, some of these including Lick Brook, Roy H. Park Preserve, Shindagin Hollow and Texas Hollow. At these locations the Trailblazers wandered through creeks and even got a chance to track snapping turtles!

Jenn investigates some curious bird feathers with campers.

Both of the instructors, Jenn and Britta, felt very grateful to have such a wonderful group of kids to spend the week with.


Willow Clan

The Willow Clan spent their week scouting out the numerous useful resources 4-H Acres has to offer. They used these resources to build fires to cook food and for coal burning spoons. On Thursday they went to the creek to carve tools made out of stone.

Sam, a Wildcrafting instructor, tending to a fire.

A camper coal burning a spoon.

Dogbane Clan

This clan built their camp at the edge of the hemlocks and created some awesome shelters along with a nature museum.

A camper with clay-covered hands in the creek.

They practiced the art of stone-drilling, cordage and participated in lots of free-play. Some members of the Dogbane Clan also helped to tell the story of "Raven, the Shapeshifter" with the Willow Clan on Thursday.

Thanks for reading! We are looking forward to another adventure-filled week here at Primitive Pursuits!

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Need a trail guide?

We’re happy to help you navigate. Give us a call at the office (607) 272-2292 ext. 195 or use the link below

Get In Touch

Don't miss a beat, add yourself to our list to get all the latest details.