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

Week Eight of Summer Camp 2017!

Sarah Chaffee, August 20, 2017

Advanced Wildcrafting

This week the campers of Advanced Wildcrafting made their base camp at Raccoon Motel at 4-H Acres. On Monday they peeled the bark off of white pine tree stumps and soaked them in water by the Beaver Pond to soften the skin. The campers were able to pick between two different basket designs, one for holding water and another for collecting wild edibles. Once they had made their decision, the Advanced Wildcrafters used clothes pins and sticks to hold the bark in their desired shape. They left them to dry and by Friday all had awesome baskets!

Will, an Advanced Wildcrafting instructor, helping a camper make a bark basket.

The Advanced Wildcrafters got to do something that no other group has done this summer- skin and tan rabbit hides! Each camper got their own piece of hide and were able to design it into whatever they wanted. One camper drew a map of her home on the inside and used basswood cordage and a needle to sew it into a pouch. Another camper turned his into a warm scarf for winter, using a handmade wooden button to hold it together. One wildcrafter even turned his into a beard!

A camper showing the inside of her rabbit hide where she drew a map of her home.

When they weren't working on their projects, these campers enjoyed going on secret scouting missions to other clans' base camps were they liked to rearrange their backpacks and leave gifts. They were also expert fire builders and enjoyed having a fire every day with lunch.

A camper showing off his rabbit hide beard.

Crafter's Caravan

The campers of Crafter's Caravan traveled to several locations around Ithaca to collect materials to use to make axes. They harvested elm to use as the handles and rocks from Lick Brook to use as the blade.

A camper hunting for crawfish.

On Wednesday they harvested groundnuts and then made their camp for the afternoon at the cliffs at Monkey Run. There they worked together to make lunch with some campers going down to the river to catch crawfish and clean the groundnuts, while others stayed at the camp to collect wood to make a fire. In order for the groundnuts to cook, they needed to sit in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. The crafters moved coals from the fire and put sticks over two logs to suspend the pot over the hot coals and tended to the fire until it began to boil.

A crafter tending to the fire.

While their lunch was cooking Sean, a Crafter's Caravan instructor, showed the campers the next steps in making their axes. Some continued to peck at the rocks they were going use as their blade, smoothing it on one side to create a sharp edge. Others began working on their handles and used files to created an opening just big enough for the blade to fit in.

A camper working on his axe.

After the groundnuts had finished boiling, the campers added butter and salt to them and let them cool off. Then they began to boil another pot for their crawfish. They gathered in a circle and discussed what it meant to take an animal's life for food and expressed their gratitude for the crawfish. Afterwards they enjoyed their feast after a day of hard work and fun.

A cooked crawfish.

Forest Archer

This week the forest archers stealthily explored 4-H Acres with their bows in hand, learning not only how to be good archers but also how to be good scouts. On Monday they went over the parts of the bow and even got to make their own arrows. They practiced shooting at ariel and moving targets and enjoyed playing some running games.

Archers playing Bat and Moth in the Hemlock Forest at 4-H Acres.

All of their training came down to Friday's Bow Olympics where it was the Manti Clan versus the Wolfpack Clan. Their first challenge was to run from one end of the Horse Arena to the other while making a silly noise, style points were included in their scores. Once they made it to the other side they had to pick up an arrow and aim it at the target. The first person to stick their arrow to the target got a point. Their other challenges involved a clout shoot, a deer drag and a watermelon target, which they all enjoyed together at the end of their day.

A archer competing in the Bow Olympics.

Growing Wild

This week Growing Wild learned all about birds! They made beautiful bird feeders out of pine cones and covered them in peanut butter and seeds and then hung them up in trees around Trillium Camp. All week they enjoyed watching different kinds of birds enjoy the seeds off their feeders.

A bird feeder the Growing Wild campers made using pine cones, peanut butter and seeds.

The Growing Wild campers traveled to Grandmother Hickory where they made necklaces using the tops of acorns and sitting mats out of goldenrod. They loved having free-play by the creek where they enjoyed lifting up rocks searching for crawfish and other aquatic critters. The campers also spent lots of time on the horsey log and liked to pretend they were going on crazy adventures to far away places.

A camper playing a musical instrument during Growing Wild's Closing Circle.

On Friday they enjoyed warm apples with cinnamon by a fire and talked about what they were grateful for; some of their answers included fire, games, the creek and being outside. During their Closing Circle they used musical instruments and sang "I Thank the Earth."

A sweet moment between a camper and a CIT.

Luna's Fire

The girl's of Luna's Fire enjoyed a week of adventure, discovery and friendship at 4-H Acres. They loved using rock paint to make beautiful designs on one another's faces and arms and even got to use henna! The campers also made salve using oil strained in beeswax and kept in containers made out of Japanese knotweed.

Luna's Fire campers showing off their beautiful face paint. Photo taken by Barbara Ann Jordan.

On Thursday night Luna's Fire camped out at Village Camp where they made delicious cheese quesadillas, baked zucchini and peach cobbler! They lit the paths surrounding their camp with small candles, each camper having her own, and participated in a sharing circle where they all learned more about each other.

Henna on one of the Luna's Fire campers. Photo taken by Barbara Ann Jordan.

They also made their own journals out of pine bark and cardboard and wrote in them throughout the week including song lyrics and drawings depicting their adventures together. On Friday Barbara Ann, a Luna's Fire instructor, brought in pictures she had taken from the week of them playing in the creek, making rock paint designs and just being silly. The girls picked their favorite ones and added them to their journals.

The words to a song the Luna's Fire campers sang all week written in a handmade journal. Photo taken by Barbara Ann Jordan.

On Friday they enjoyed their last day together, spending most of their time by the river. There they relaxed in the sun, singing songs and telling stories. They also played a game of Keeper of the Keys in the water. Afterwards they gathered close for their Closing Circle where they discussed their favorites parts of the week, what they were grateful for and how they planned to carry what they had learned with them after camp. Together the sang their song "River of Love" one last time and left with arms around each other, not wanting to say goodbye.

A camper signing the Luna's Fire staff during their Closing Circle with Barbara Ann, a Luna's Fire instructor.


The Wildcrafting Tribe had an amazing week learning how to use gifts of nature to make different things. On Monday they made mini bows and arrows out of pliable sticks and basswood cordage and set up a shooting range where they could practice their archery skills. Some clans also made candles using beeswax and dreamcatchers using cordage, sticks, feathers and other natural materials.

Wildcrafters having a laugh during a tribe gathering.

Campers enjoyed making baskets using the bark from white pine trees. They learned how to carefully remove the almost leather-like bark from the stump without ripping it and carefully bent them into their desired shape. They used clothes pins and cordage to hold the bark into place and let them dry. The Wildcrafters loved using Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant, for many of their crafts. They used it to make flutes, containers and even turned them into boats which they sailed down the river in an epic race!

A camper holding a pine bark basket. Photo taken by Barbara Ann Jordan.

When they weren't working on projects, these campers loved to play Camouflage, Keeper of the Keys and Crow Spirit, which they enjoyed an epic game of on Friday afternoon. They also practiced mindfulness and participated in daily sit spot exercises where they learned how to listen to the world around them.

A camper giving a battle cry during an intense game of Crow Spirit.

Wilderness Week

Bog Buckmoth Clan

The Bog Buckmoth Clan made their camp in a remote part of the Finger Lakes National Forest. Hidden in a shady patch of trees they enjoyed playing Camouflage, which could be called at without warning and at anytime by the previous winner of the game. On Tuesday Alex, the Wilderness Week Tribe Leader, helped them harvest the dead branch of a white pine tree to make tongs to help they collect hot coals to use for coal burning.

Campers harvesting a dead white pine tree branch with Alex, a Primitive Pursuits Tribe Leader.

They learned how to identify hard woods and soft woods and discussed what kinds of projects each would be good for. While some Bog Bucktooth Clan members practiced carving, others learned how to coal burn spoons and bowls. By the end of the week they all had their own completed coal-burned project!

A camper coal burning for the first time.

These campers also enjoyed wandering throughout the Finger Lakes National Forest, stalking other clans and harvesting crab apples and other wild edibles they would enjoy during lunch by their fire.

A camper learning how to carve.

Pine Pinion Moth Clan

The campers of the Pine Pinion Moth Clan were an incredibly creative, hard working and insightful bunch! On Monday they explored the Finger Lakes National Forest, searching far and wide for the perfect place to call home for the week. Eventually they came upon the "Oasis of the Forest," a secret spot hidden in the depths of the woods.

The Pine Pinions walking to their secret base camp.

Their base camp was centered around a creek basin that they decided to turn into a primitive hot tub. On Thursday they placed rocks along the edge to create a seating area for them to put their feet in and cleared away large sticks and other debris from the water. Then they decided to collect giant granite rocks that they would put in a fire and then roll into the basin to heat up the water. They worked together to carry the heavy rocks and collect wood for the fire and spent Friday enjoying their bubbly hot tub!

Campers hanging out in their private oasis.

The campers expressed interest in having daily meditation sessions and their instructors decided to help each of them find their spirit animal. Sitting in the large open field at the Finger Lakes National Forest, they closed their eyes and listened to the soft beat of the drum played by Jenn, one of their instructors. When they came back from their journey they each had tales of seeing wolves, whitetail deer and even a porcupine!

A camper tending to a floating fire they used to warm rocks for their primitive hot tub.

Sumac Clan

The Sumac Clan made their base camp right on the edge of the pond at the Finger Lake National Forest. There they discussed the origins of fairies how they play a large role in cultures all around the world. The campers decided to make a "seaport" fairy village using gifts of nature they found in their base camp. They let their creativity and imagination run wild which resulted in an amazing village which included a boat dock and a town hall where they could gather.

Sumac Clan members constructing a boat dock for their fairy village. .

The Sumac Clan members also harvested wood to crave into walking sticks. They learned the rules of carving, some for the first time, and carefully crafted their sticks into beautiful and handy walking sticks that they used during their wanders.

A camper practicing his carving skills.

Regal Fritillary Clan

The Regal Fritillary Clan members spent the week with the elusive Fire Spirit who taught them not only how to build fires but also how to disappear them. He told them stories of his lost treasure which the campers eagerly went on an epic mission to find. They enjoyed harvesting blueberries, blackberries and crab apples they roasted in their daily fires. These campers also made a primitive see-saw and an awesome circular shelter!

The Wilderness Week instructors demonstrating how the Finger Lakes area was formed by glaciers.

On Thursday the Wilderness Week Tribe gathered together for Opening Circle where the instructors told the story of the Finger Lakes Area and how it came to be. There was much laughter as the instructors pretended to be glaciers, rolling on the grass and overtop each other.

The Wilderness Week campers gathering for Opening Circle.

Thanks for reading! We're looking forward to another week of exploration and discovery 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.