we left our cozy woods at 4h and ventured to parts unkown in week 5.

This week we left our usual home at 4H acres and most groups relocated to Ellis Hollow for the week. We had two traveling groups this week: the River Scouts and the Wilderness Explorers. Growing Wild, Forest Village, Forest Explorers, Pathfinders, Wildcrafting and Advanced Wildcrafting all explored the new wilds of Ellis Hollow. To start the week Pathfinders made a map of Ellis Hollow and at each campsite Spencer left a treasure for journals they all had with them. Forest Village found some mud and intentionally got their boots stuck; they then used the muddy boots to slide across a bridge. Wildcrafting made a plan to construct a cob oven and have it done in time to make pizza on Friday. River Scouts started the week at Lick Brook Nature Preserve and they did some cleanup around the bridges there gathering aluminum cans to melt down into knife pours in the river mud. 

With the camps spread out it took some doing to catch up to all of them but I managed to intersect with the most far ranging of the groups on Tuesday. Wilderness Explorers were on a hike through the Danby State Forest. They hiked through the forest stopping at many groups of mushrooms and efts and giving some mushrooms names like Old Crow. They discovered a pattern in the forest, this Old Crow mushroom seemed to appear at the base of cherry trees. They stopped at a huge bramble of grape vines and played on them like a jungle gym. Instructor Shawn pointed out many varieties of mushrooms, orchids, efts and newts. The wander stopped at a beautiful shelter off the Fingerlake Trail in the middle of Danby State Forest. There is a creek nearby and half the group set out to make a fairy village on its banks. The other half gathered firewood to cook ground nuts gathered the day before.

The same day I ran out and met River Scouts for the planned knife pour but imperfections in the aluminum made it very difficult to get a good pour. Instructor Jesse had a great idea to recycle cans into something fun and useful for campers and I’m sure another attempt will be made at this great idea before the summer is over. 


A camper shows off her crown of forest plants at the creek at Ellis Hollow. Photo: Ben Bookout

A camper in advanced wild crafting gets ready to forms some clay to be fired. Photo: Ben Bookout

The first all-day rainstorm of the summer came pouring down last Tuesday, watering the plants and trees but certainly not dampening the dun at Primitive Pursuits. The roar of the storm on top of the pole-barn’s tin roof provided a white-noise backdrop to the day’s activities. While some groups spent the day under the cover of the barn, others braved the weather out in the forest. The Fire Wizards, of course, built a roaring fire to keep warm on the rainy and chilly day; finding dry wood on a wet day wasn’t an obstacle they couldn’t tackle.

Luna’s rising, a camp designed for young women developing their individual skills and gifts, spent the week coming together as a group to make a pine-bark book, a new tradition that will be passed down to future Luna’s rising groups. One camper tediously bound the pages and the book together, as other campers pressed and arranged flowers to decorate the inside covers. The book will feature writings and drawings from this year’s cohort to be passed down to next summer’s Luna’s Rising, who will continue to add to the book.

Some of the skills and gifts that campers developed included building individual fires, weaving intricate cattail baskets, and learning how to identify wildflowers.

The Forest Engineers dedicated strength and time to rebuilding the stairs next to Grandmother Hickory. Even on that rainy Tuesday they hammered stakes into the ground and layered mud and rocks to secure the new stump-steps. Later in the week they added a railing, leaving the hill better than it’s looked all summer long.

Campers in wildcrafting stoke the first fire in their new cobb oven at Ellis Hollow. 

New dinousaurs just formed by a Pathfinders camper wait to be fired.