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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  Albert Einstein

Week Seven of Summer Camp 2017!

Sarah Chaffee, August 12, 2017

Archer's Apprentice

The campers of Archer's Apprentice enjoyed a week of intense archery training that made them skillful young archers. Not only did they learn how to properly hold, aim and loose their bows, but they also learned archery terminology which they were frequently quizzed on. By Friday they could correctly identify all parts of both the arrow and the bow.

A young archer taking aim at his target.

When traveling from one location to the next the archers would get in scout formation and use scouting signals to communicate with one another. They expertly moved through the forest of 4-H Acres, rarely being seen by anyone. All of their training and hard work was put to the test on Friday when the campers competed in Bow Olympics, a series of challenges that tested their archery skills, ability to work as a team and agility.

Campers competing in the Bow Olympics.

The first task was a target shoot where together they had to make five successful hits. Their next challenge was the difficult clout shoot where they had to arch their arrows in the air and land in a rope circle five times. They passed both tests with ease but were met with a more difficult challenge next- a game of Mutant Fox Tail.

Campers revive a "frozen" player during a game of Mutant Fox Tail.

The three Archer's Apprentice instructors wore several tails and the campers had to collect all of them without getting tagged. If they were tagged they had to remain frozen in place until two of their teammates came along, put their arms around them and said in unison "strawberry rhubarb pie!" They completed this challenge with ten seconds to spare!

A camper grabbing the final fox tail off of Britta, a Archer's Apprentice instructor, with just seconds to spare in the game.

Bow Camp

This week Bow Camp was gifted with a talented group of tenacious campers who proved their determination and willpower each day. Even though they were busy working on their bows, they still found time to practice their tree identification skills and enjoyed playing several rounds of Tree Tag. They also learned about different types of wood and what kinds of bows they work best for and enjoyed a naturalist walk around 4-H Acres.

A camper working working on his bow.

They deepened their connection to their bows through different exercises and challenges. On Thursday morning they sat in a circle blindfolded and had to correctly identify their bow. If they failed to do so whoever had their bow would work on it for thirty minutes. They took their time, slowly running their fingers over any notches and marks within the wood that would help them find their bow. By the end of the exercise they were all able to identify their own and continued to work on them until completed.

A camper identifying her bow blindfolded.

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag campers enjoyed a week filled with epic games of CTF and other adventures at the Ellis Hollow Natural Area. On Monday they wasted no time and quickly jumped into one of the most epic games of CTF to date! The group split up into two teams- the Space Coyotes and the Jungle Foxes. The Space Coyotes used charcoal face paint to distinguish themselves from the other team and then joined their fellow teammates to strategize and hide their flag.

A Space Coyote getting some charcoal face paint before a game of CTF.

The game started with a coyote howl and cheers of excitement as the offensive players charged onto the other team's side, trying to search for their flag without getting tagged. There were several intense standoffs as opposing teammates stared at each other, daring one another to cross the line of bandanas that marked each team's side.

Campers guarding their team's side.

As the game progressed, each team adopted different strategies to capture the flag. Some campers used their stalking and camouflage skills to sneak onto the other team's side. Others liked to travel in larger groups and use clever diversions to get across undetected.

A camper using his stalking skills to sneak onto the other team's side during CTF.

After several rounds, new rules and characters to the game were introduced- the friendly Rainbow Bird and the not so friendly Gargoyle. The Rainbow Bird would flutter between both teams, unfreezing players that had been tagged and giving hints about where the flags were hidden. The Gargoyle, on the other hand, could tag campers on both sides. At the end of each game both teams lined up and shoot hands, displaying excellent teamwork and good sportsmanship.

A camper triumphantly returning to his team after capturing the other team's flag.

However, it wasn't all just games of CTF for these campers. They also enjoyed visits from the Crow Spirit, who they had a very interesting interview with, and a Goat Man who gave them a fire challenge. The CTF campers also made bark baskets using white pine and loved to harvest clay from the creek to make bowls.

Campers taking a break from CTF on a hot day to enjoy the creek.

Growing Wild

Growing Wild spent the week using gifts from nature to make beautiful and useful crafts. On Tuesday they harvested goldenrod by the creek at 4-H Acres and used cordage to tie them together. By the end of the day they each had a comfy mat of goldenrod to sit on!

Growing Wild campers having fun on the horsey log.

Growing Wild had a special visitor come teach them the art using nature to hide themselves within their environment. They practiced these skills during a game of Camouflage where campers hid themselves behind trees and plants. During free-play Growing Wild enjoyed exploring the creek, looking underneath rocks for crawfish and frogs. They also made their own primitive teeter-totter using logs they found at Trillium Camp.

A camper running through a forest of jewelweed.

On Friday the Growing Wild campers embarked on a very special mission to help the Rainbow Bird collect all of her missing eggs. They searched in the field and the woods by the Horse Arena, looking for the brightly colored eggs. After some hard work they found all of the eggs and were rewarded by the Rainbow Bird with the gift of apples! They used this gift to make delicious apple pie ash cakes.

A camper enjoying her apple pie ash cake.

Hidden Trails

Cottontail Clan

The Cottontail Clan preferred to remain hidden on the hidden trails they explored. To did this they learned how to use charcoal paint and mud to blend into their surroundings. On Tuesday they played several rounds of Camouflage in the Hemlock Forest at 4-H Acres. During the first game the campers did not use any charcoal or mud to help them hide. For the second game, however, they did and the difference was clear- Hani, a Hidden Trails instructor, had a much harder time finding them while they wore camouflage than he did when they were not.

A camper using charcoal to camouflage herself for a stalking mission.

Since they had hidden themselves so well during Camouflage, their instructors felt they were ready for a real stalking mission. After discussing how to fox walk and going over scout signals, the clan went on an adventure to stalk a nearby clan and get as close to them as possible without being seen.

Can you spot the camper hiding during a game of Camouflage?

The Cottontail Clan moved slowly through the hemlocks, careful to not step on any sticks or leaves that could reveal their whereabouts. As they got closer to the unsuspecting clan, they laid on the ground and covered themselves in tree branches, leaves and any other natural materials they could find. Their mission had an intense moment when the clan they were stalking decided to play Camouflage and ran out into the forest right where the Cottontails were hiding. However, they remained calm and slowly retreated undetected a few minutes later.

A sweet moment between Hani, a Hidden Trails instructor, and a Cottontail clan member.

Groundhog Clan

Members of the Groundhog Clan had a magical week filled with fairy villages, scavenger hunts and delicious treats! On Tuesday Maggie, a Hidden Trails CIT, told the campers an epic tale of a group of average sized people who were shrunk to the size of fairies. According to the story they called themselves the "Little People" and were a nomadic bunch who liked to live in the woods in villages made from natural materials.

A letter to the Groundhog Clan from the Little People .

After hearing this tale the Groundhog Clan quickly got to work and built an amazing village for the Little People that even included a town hall! Each day after arriving at their base camp at 4-H Acres, the campers would receive a new note from the Little People thanking them for all they had and done and giving them new challenges to complete. On Friday the Little People sent the Groundhogs on a scouting mission and then rewarded them with sweet corn they roasted in a fire for lunch. Later that day they said goodbye and thank you to their new little friends.

Campers working on the Little People village next to a message from them reading "You're Welcome" after the campers had written "Thank You" for giving them supplies to make ash cakes.

Wild Turkey Clan

This clan hid themselves in a remote part of the Hemlock Forest at 4-H Acres and learned how to make shelters that blended in with the surrounding environment. The campers used moss, leaves, and sticks to build their shelters, which were so well hidden that they had a difficult time finding their own the next day!

A Wild Turkey Clan member hiding in a shelter.

The Wild Turkeys were expert fire makers and made a fire that gave off no smoke so their whereabouts remained a secret. In fact, they were so skilled at fire-building that they made a fire and then transported a coal using punkwood to build another fire! This clan also loved to listen to stories, especially scary ones, and enjoyed solving tricky riddles.

A camper blowing on a piece of punkwood while trying to start a fire.

Scout Week

This week the forests of 4-H Acres were invaded by scouts who were so skilled at stalking that many clans, who were aware that it was Scout Week and were on the lookout for them, did not find a single scout. Throughout the week they faced many challenges that tested their patience, awareness and natural instincts. Many of these challenges were completed while wearing blindfolds in order to improve their other four senses- touch, taste and smell.

A camper collecting whispies while blindfolded.

On Thursday they were led blindfolded into the woods by their instructors, walking slowly but deliberately and using their hands to feel for trees or logs in their way. Once they reached their destination they were asked to keep their blindfolds on an collect whispies for a fire. The scouts moved around their camp searching for small, dry pieces of wood and each came back to the circle with a great handful of whispies. Later they played a few rounds of silent blindfolded tag where they had to rely heavily on their ears to hear the other players' movements.

A scout during their blindfolded walk.

The scouts spent the night at Village Camp at 4-H Acres on Thursday night and enjoyed a feast of moose, corn, potatoes, stinging nettle and cob oven pizza! Afterwards they walked to the Beaver Pond and went to separate sit spots overlooking the water. As the sun began to set the campers heard several loud splashes as the beavers jumped into the water. They trekked all the way back to their camp while blindfolded and using their feet to see. For the rest of the night they played an epic game by the fire and stargazed at the Horse Arena before going to sleep.

A camper enjoying the view at Beaver Pond.


The Trailblazers enjoyed a week of adventure, exploration and some really big trees! On Wednesday the group traveled to the Fischer Old-Growth Natural Area and had a lovely, sunny walk into the forest, identifying wild edibles and other plants along the way. They also found basswood that they harvested to use for cordage.

The Trailblazers exploring an old growth-forest.

As they ventured deeper into the forest they began to notice how tall the trees were and how far apart they stood from each other. They also saw a large tree stump and observed the many tree rings they could see, ultimately deciding that there were too many to count. As they walked along a mostly dry creek bed they found tiny animal tracks and suggested possible owners- a raccoon? A stray cat? Together they came to the conclusion that it most likely belonged to a squirrel.

A camper holding a garter snake.

The Trailblazers also found a garter snake and learned how to carefully hold them. They examined its scaly, yet smooth skin and how its tongue flicked out every few seconds. After they were done the campers let the snake go where they found it and thanked it for allowing them to learn. Aside from exploring beautiful old-growth forests, the Trailblazers enjoyed playing in creeks, harvesting clay to make pottery and making new friends.

The trailblazers hugging a giant old-growth tree.

Thanks for reading! We're looking forward to another wonderful week of camp 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.