Homeschool Wilderness Skills Update

Cicada experianceThe fun never seems to end during our seasonal home school programs.  We have been hosting a Spring and Fall wilderness skills program for 3 years now.  Currently there are two locations the homeschool programs run,  these  include the Northern VA homeschool group (NOVA), Greenbelt homeschool group (GBHS).  We hope to be able to offer a third location near Columbia MD in the near future.  Until then we have been working with the CHAP homeschool group in Catonsville, MD.Blade and core

The CHAP class was a 6 week program meeting once a week for an hour.  The first three weeks of the classes focus was on carving soapstone pendants and effigies.  The second week was focused on creating primitive pottery vessels using the pinch pot method.  This class was a great success since everyone completed their projects.  I unfortunately broke my leg the day before the last scheduled workshop.  I will be firing the pots as soon as I can get around a bit more.

The northern Virginia and Greenbelt group have been focusing on wilderness survival and ancient living skills.  The NOVA and GBHS groups have been participated in several activities including tracking and animal identification, plant identification, and sCordage circleurvival skills like acorn processing, basket making, primitive traps, survival shelters, and awareness.  one day a few weeks ago we were following some deer trails through the woods.  At on point we found an incredible deer rub and scrape along side of the trail.  We decided this was a good place to break for lunch.  As we were sitting there we heard something approaching from over the hillside and behind a fallen tree.   The challenge was set, who could stalk to the log and see the animal on the other side.  It was awesome seeing 10 kids sneStalking the deeraking and crawling through the forest.  Unfortunately they weren’t quiet enough.  Upon investigation we found that it was a deer coming up the hill and it turned around and retreated.  It goes without saying , the kids had a blast trying to see the deer.

After lunch we continued up the hill to find a grove of paw paw trees completely covered in something white.  After Sign of the Eaglesstudying the area for a while, we determined that it was bird scat.  Eventually we found some large black feathers that led us to believe it was a vulture roost we were under.  We decided to hang out in this area and explore the cordage possibilities of the paw paw tree.  While we were hanging out we notice some big birds circling overhead.  After some time had passed we saw them fly to a big nest that we were sitting under.  When I say big, I mean big enough for kids to hang out in.  The birds were Bald Eagles and now one of our favorite places to hang out is Eagle Ridge.

We have several levels of participation in our wilderness skills program.  The participants who have been in thBasketrye program for several sessions have been working on more advanced skills.  They are given projects and skills that build on the basics that they learned in previous sessions.  Some of these skills include stone axe making, hide tanning, fish spears and hooks, bark containers and more primitive fire techniques.  Not to mention the continuing naturalist studies.  We even have the older seasoned participants teach a skill or two for the newbies.Baskets in the making

This week we are coming to the end of the program and are heading to the Shenandoah Mountains for our final three day two night camp out that concludes each session.  While on this camp out the kids get to test their survival skills to the best of their ability.  A large portion of time is spent exploring 1400 acres of incredible mountain topography which includes scenic outlooks, waterfalls, natural springs, the Shenandoah River and the Appalachian trail.

We have enjoyed our time and shared some wonderful experiences with the kids.  As usual it will be hard to say goodbye and we will miss them dearly.  I hope to see them all in the spring.

Enjoy more photos of our programs by checking out our Photo Gallery.

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