Week in the Woods 2014 Session Highlights

Week in the Woods 2014 was in many ways a record-breaking year. For one thing 14 of our 18 participants were men or boys. All of our young people were “guys”. We did however, have a perfect balance within our pool of instructors. We chose a new site this year in a predominantly deciduous forest, which was a first. It was a lovely spot and rich in treasures as well as rather side-hilly. Most of us needed to move some dirt in order to pitch a level tent. Weather-wise we had two stellar days and three rather wet ones, but no one skipped a beat or complained and compared to 2013 the bugs were insignificant. We had 5 visiting biologists this year and we learned a lot about plants, animals, insets and the ecology of the forest we were living in.

Along with baskets and spoons, burl bowls and carved faces, bow saws and climbing puppets, two construction projects were undertaken. Spencer headed up the team of boys in building a “fort” and Tim headed up a group of adults in building a kitchen counter.

Both these structures were lashed together exclusively with root. This year the puppet show took on a new twist. First the story was illustrated on a story pole (like a totem pole) almost 15 feet tall. Then the story was acted out to rave reviews and mountains of popcorn.

Another highlight was the production and refinement of “boreal race cars”. Under the tutelage of Tim Quintel functioning cars were crafted and a racetrack built out of gracefully bent saplings and birch bark all lashed together with spruce root. The track was a long, sloping S curve that include a jump. Each car got 2 timed runs down the track. All cars finished, some backwards, some upside down and some both, but all were winners. Another first was a huge and wonderful swing which we are sure will become a tradition.

And, in the words of John Muir, who said: “keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods…” we did just that and had a marvelous time!