This week in the woods, we heightened our senses!

Text by Lydia Brandt 

It is week seven here at 4-H Acres and we are getting in tune with our senses! 

Friday’s activities were centered around taste, and there were plenty of yummy foods on the camp menu. Primitive Cafe gets a five star rating because they fed the entire camp! The chefs set up shop at Hearth camp, where they churned out pizzas one after another, with various groups and staff visiting at different times to dine in or take out. Another highlight was when Growing Wild discovered an abundant supply of bananas in the trees of Trillium camp. Despite their peculiar discovery of this tropically grown fruit, with the help of their instructors they built a fire and roasted the bananas, engineering banana boats. The Wood Ducks built a fire and made bread on a stick. (add flavors) cinnamon, honey, garlic and plain.  

Primitive Pursuits’ love for scavenger hunts was quite fitting for this week’s theme of the senses. Future Primitive created a scavenger hunt where one group hid with food and afterwards they came together to create a delicious meal using their combined ingredients. Growing Wild also went on a scavenger hunt at Trillium and found corn for popping, oil, salt, syrup and a pot. 

Various groups took wander walks through the woods to engage their senses this week. On Wednesday, Growing Wild ventured out around camp and their first stop was at the Pole Barn to visit Gifts of the Deer. They were given a tour of the deer remnants from instructor Danielle and got to touch everything from hides to pellets to antlers. On Tuesday Pathfinders took a sensory walk and used primarily sight to observe changes to plants around the forest before beginning a game of camouflage. Forest Village took a wander walk down to the cabin at Monkey Run where they listened to and observed the sound of the woods. 

Camper in Primitive Cafe mixes dough for pizza at Hearth Camp. Photo by Ben Bookout 

Campers from Growing Wild remark on their werewolf sightings at 4-H Acres. Photo by Lydia Brandt

As usual, Adventure Academy had another magical week of fun! The group mixed up potions from various forest ingredients. They also dyed fabric with one of the goldenrod potions and used a sun activated ink to personalize their squares of cloth. Using a keen sense of hearing, The Wood Ducks played an echolocation game called Bat and Moth. The campers stood in a circle and one person was the bat and the other was the moth. The bat was blindfolded and had to use their heightened sense of hearing to trap the moth.  

Gifts of the Deer had a marvelous week learning about and processing our native White Tailed deer. One of the most unique activities to take place at camp was hide-bouncing. After Gifts of the Deer exerted a ton of energy and time to stretch out the deer hides, they visited groups of campers and granted them the opportunity to bounce on the hides. On each participant’s turn they were instructed to tuck their knees into their chest, and after would have a circle of instructors lift the hide up all together and then they would go flying. It was quite a sight to see.

All in all, campers became more aware of their senses in the forest this week. To conclude the week, Rey led a camp-wide game of Crow Spirit with instructors and campers pitted against each other. Instructors did an excellent job of planning activities which concentrated on one or more of the senses. 

Gifts of the Deer group bounces camper on deer hide. Photo by Ben Bookout 

Future Primitive camper works on basket weaving. Photo by Ben Bookout 


The Primitive Pursuits team recognizes that the land where we live and work exists within the territory of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga Nation). We acknowledge the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy for their enduring stewardship of this place throughout the centuries and still today. We recognize a responsibility to learn about this history while also educating newer generations about how to live in good relation to the earth and with our neighbors. This learning and relationship building is ongoing and we welcome guidance and feedback along the way. If you have feedback or wish to engage with us on this topic please see visit our Cultural Repair Acknowledgment + Action + Reparations page.

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Primitive Pursuits is a non-profit 4-H program of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County.

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