A post from Sarah Chaffee

Check out some pictures from the past two weeks of our Homeschool program. Check back here for periodic updates to find out what we have been up to!

The Crow, Oriole, and Downy Woodpecker flocks gathered for Closing Circle. They begin and end each day together in this space, singing songs and sharing stories of their day.

The Crows

The Crow flock, with instructors Danielle, Nora and Sam, spent their first day together looking for the perfect base camp. After some searching, they found the just the place (its location is a secret!) and gave it the fitting name of “Crow Camp.” Together they dreamed of how to turn this space into their own by building a large shelter, creating a fire circle and a storage space for their crafts. They also journeyed to the Beaver Pond where they harvested cattails for small baskets or to use for their shelter. The Crows also harvested red oak acorns to dry out. They have plans to leach them and use for future cooking projects. Speaking of cooking, this group also cooked apple and peach cobbler in Seamoon, a beautiful cob oven shaped like a turtle and built by in past homeschool programs. They enjoyed their food while celebrating some birthdays in their flock!

Nora, from the Crow Flock, leading the group in an activity at Closing Circle.

Cattails harvested by the Crow Flock.

The Crows spent their second day of program harvesting even more cattails and set them out to dry to use for baskets, matts and roofing for their shelter. They also began working on the foundation for the mentioned shelter in their secret Crow Camp. To do this, Danielle said, “we cleared the space of small saplings and honeysuckle, selected and harvested our musclewood “Y” saplings, about four inches wide, and began digging holes with our crafted digging sticks.” The group was also gifted red oak across from the Downy Woodpecker flock, which the Crows plan to dry out with the rest of their harvested acorns.

The Orioles

The Oriole flock, with instructors Wren, Hillary Joy and Sequoia, had an exciting first week together. Below is Wren’s account of what the Oriole flock did-
“The Orioles flock had an adventurous first week including scouting around for a camp area to settle into. Pushing through some dense underbrush, one group came upon an old apple tree. Underneath? Some powerful piles of poop that we suspect could only belong to one furry 4-legged species: black bear! As you can imagine, this created quite a stir among our group. With our curiosity and awareness heightened, we gathered around to inspect and speculate, and also discuss safety protocols for being around bears.
Several of our group received instruction about proper knife use and safety, and had some time to work on knife skills including a couple of first-time knife wielders. Everyone did a great job and all campers observed the knife use area boundaries very well. One camper learned how to hone a knife blade and did a decent job improving some knife edges.

We are excited to be working together to connect with nature, deepen our senses and explore our growing edges. Looking forward to it all.”

Hillary Joy serving apple cobbler made by the Orioles with apples harvested from a nearby apple tree.

A member of the Oriole flock holding her apple cobbler.

On their second day of program, Wren wrote- “With rain on the way, the Orioles flock quickly made a hot fire for cooking and nestled into our tarp city. One group prepared apples for cobbler while another practiced knife skills and knife honing. We may become known for how sharp we are, and imagining flocks from far and wide bringing their dull knives to our care.

While our cobbler cooled, we ventured back to the apple trees to look for more bear evidence. We strategically placed sand piles and apple cores hoping to collect some tracks! We’ll see…”

Members of the Downy Woodpecker flock playing on the beloved dragon in the Hemlock Forest.

The Downy Woodpeckers

The Downy Woodpecker flock, with instructors Monica, Sophia and Sean, chose Turkey Knoll as their base camp for the season and together explored the surrounding area while beginning to tune into their sense of direction. During that time they came across a trickster plant that can make people very itchy-poison ivy! Members of the Downy Woodpeckers also chose sit spots that they will visit each week. Together they discussed what they wanted to do in the fall and created a list that included fire-building and tending, shelter making and collecting materials for the winter months ahead.

Homeschoolers having a laugh during Closing Circle.

During Closing Circle, the homeschool group was asked the pick up an acorn and put their gratitude from the day into. Then the found a spot on the Earth to bury it and to share their gratitude with the surrounding woods.

During their second week of our program, Monica said- “We went to beaver camp and had a snack and a story from the Mandan people about the first basket and how to give thanks for the gifts we receive and be thoughtful, kind and generous. The rain came down and we hightailed it to the Hemlocks for a game of camoflage before heading back to Beaver Camp for gathering cattails with loppers. We gathered many cattails and carried them to the pole barn for drying. We hope to make mats out of them over then next few weeks. Once back at Turkey Knoll we had lunch and then had a chance to choose between three activities- to start repair work on a shelter built last spring, to attempt “the match challenge” or to gather perfect acorns to trade with the Crow Flock. The leaders of the Crow Flock were so excited with our acorns!”

Some after program silliness from members of the Downy Woodpeckers.

Thank you for reading! We’re looking forward to the many adventures to come.