Great Hollow Wilderness School

Week Two: Highlights from the Hollow

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This week the pioneers learned about candles. In order to make candles the old way…. over a fire pit….. a fire pit must be made! These Pioneers made one of the best yet…

The masons brought all the stone in and layed a sturdy border, with two flat stone oven sides, where coals could be raked under the platform. The water carriers brought up water for the project and for safety, checking for good, clean flowing water. The log rollers made seating for all, wedged by stones and small wood anchors for stability. Everyone went to collect dry firewood, and sorted it into sizes.

We learned about the three stages of tinder needed for an effective one-match fire. For this fire we used red cedar bark ‘fur’, cattail fluff, and birch bark. Then, a strategic tipi of kindling and sticks was made around the tinder, before the match was struck. See the little ‘doorway’?

The candle wax was melted and poured successfully, and the finishing touch rendered beautifully:

The bayberry wax went on as the final layer to the candles, creating an Autumnal aroma for everyone. Now, the longer nights of winter will be well lit for supper and good storytelling!

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What about the Scouts, you might ask? Well, it sure is hard to get me and my camera to be in all places at once, but Melissa and Joe reported a day of survival training…… deep in the woods they had crashed from a plane, and were left to survive on their own….. what should they do first?

The Souts learned the order of survival…. from creating a shelter, finding tinder and fuel for a fire, and how to purify water for drinking by boiling or using rocks. With the most critical aspects covered, they could tell stories, journal, and think about their next task: food! They hunted down some nutritious wood sorrel before stamping the day “to be continued”…….

Higher up on the trail, were the Wildernes Challenge group. This week they were faced with some serious teamwork initiatives, forcing them to think critically and as a unit. Two types of shelter were constructed during the day, with minimal materials. Shelter is so important and can be easily overlooked this time of year, when the warm days do not tell of the cold nights ahead, and poor judgements can be made.

On the way back, each student was to bear a different disability. As a team, they had everything they would need, and so the challenge was in service of the whole as greater than the sum of the parts… as the old proverb goes….

Friday was wonderful. The MicroScouts measured water level, read animal stories, played games, and drew in their journals.

The Jr Naturalists spent this rainy day preparing wild medicinal teas and studying roots. They simmered Sassafras root, infused spicebush berries, cold-soaked smooth sumac, and prepared ginger fennel syrup. We looked at root structures, and sang a wonderful bamboo song. The Jr. Naturalists are gaining some significant strengths in gathering detail, logging in their journals, and using indexes successfully. Their teamwork is also very good!

Oh! And Sage got stung by the most amazing caterpillar……

A Saddleback …. one of the most venomous caterpillars in Connecticut. Also adept at camouflage, considering it wouldn’t show up on my camera until contrasted to Ethan’s watch! Cool little crawly!

See you all soon……

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