November 3, 2012

The Coyote’s Path group had some great experiences on the land this November! The day began with a woodsy ramble. We focused on expanding our sensory awareness: listening with deer ears and walking as quietly as foxes. Afterward, we tested and honed these new skills with some fun games.

We had lunch around the fire, which was pretty sweet on this brisk November day! In the afternoon we split into our mammal and bird clans (older and younger kids, respectively) and did some fire making. The “mammals” made a 5-minute fire, while the “birds” made a 10-minute fire, lit on the second match! For many of these younger children, it was their first experience making a fire without adults leading the way. They got to see the bowdrill and flint-&-steel, and learn a little about how they work and what lies ahead on the fire-making journey.

At closing circle, the two groups reconvened and shared some of their stories of the day. The staff told a tale about Coyote the Trickster. The story stood alone as entertainment but also offered gentle reminders about remembering those who came before, and furthermore served to set up the night game for those staying over.

After the day students left, the overnight group sprang into action preparing for the night ahead. They returned to the Mandan lodge, where the little village buzzed with excitement and cooperation: gathering loads of firewood, hanging the tarp, building the fire. . .it was a sweet sight to see the group working together!

At dinnertime, everyone pitched in to help, and before long, we were sharing hot chili and cornbread around the fire as the sun went down. Making cornbread in a skillet over the fire was pretty fun, and Sallie took up the role of tending to it and turning it and making sure it didn’t burn.

Then came the night game (and it was a good one!): A spirit ghoul was trapped in our world because he had missed the gateway back to the spirit world on Halloween. It was the kids’ challenge to build a gateway to send him back so that he wouldn’t haunt the forest any more. Our volunteer “ghoul” (one of last year’s C.I.T.’s) kept the kids on edge with the threat of his icy touch, while they worked as a team to create the gateway and figure out how to help the ghoul through it. As part of the process, they built a small fire and shared stories and songs of their ancestors. Once the ghoul had departed, the kids spent another hour savoring the fire and the moment, sharing first stories and then the silence, before the time for sleep arrived.

In the morning, breakfast included eggs, veggies, and the long-anticipated bacon. There was clean-up, time for more games, a closing circle, and then farewell until December.