Homeschool Winter Camp Out Dec 8-10

Day One

The Ancestral Knowledge Homeschool Program participants celebrated the completion of this year’s program and put their wilderness survival skills to use during the Overnight Experience in Harper’s Ferry, WV.   We practiced the basic skills focusing on shelter, water, fire, and food in a beautiful mountain setting for three fun-filled days and two wintry nights.

We kicked off the week with awareness games and get-to-know you activities, as the Maryland and Virginia groups were meeting for the first time!  The blindfold tree identification game challenged us to trust our new comrades as they led us around the camp blindfolded and introduced us to some of the trees in the surrounding area.  We were all excited to meet new friends and become familiar with our home for the next few days.

After choosing a campsite, setting up our camp, and collecting firewood for the evening, we were ready to start a fire and explore the snow-covered hillside.  As the skies grew darker, we practiced setting traps, gathered throwing sticks for hunting and collected small branches to be used for cooking our dinner later that evening.  Just before returning to our campsite, we heard the call of a mysterious animal nearby and paused to wonder what could make such a sound.  Could it be a coyote?  A wolf?  A big cat on the prowl?  We talked about the animals that might be living in the area and came to the conclusion that we were hearing the “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” call of the barred owl.  With that, we headed back to camp and the warmth of our blazing campfire.

Everyone was excited to help make dinner and enjoy time together.  We ate, laughed, listened to stories, and warmed ourselves by the fire.  We even started making wooden spoons with hot coals from the fire.  One-by-one we decided to return to our tents to cozy in for the night.  As the last of us made our way from the campfire, we noticed that there were a few snow flakes falling and wondered what the night would bring.  As we began to fall asleep, we could hear the snow falling harder and harder all around us!  Hours later we awoke to the sound of tents collapsing under the weight of the snow.  After shaking the snow and ice off the tents, sounds of panic turned to giggles and laughter as we all realized that everyone was fine-happy, safe, and warm!

Day Two

As night turned to morning, the snow turned to rain.  We bundled up and crawled out of our tents to find the ground was white-covered with ice and snow, and quickly turning to slush as the cold rain continued to pour.  It seemed best to wait out the weather for a bit, so we moved into the cabin for a hot breakfast and some indoor games.  The big cabin was the perfect place for hide and seek! When the skies cleared and the rain stopped, we ventured out into the snow for a wander and soon came upon several sets of tracks.  Again, we stopped to wonder and discuss what might have made the tracks.  Who lives in the woods?  What was it doing out in the snow?  A squirrel!  And another one, and another, and another!  We followed several squirrel trails until we came upon a new set of tracks that looked very different.  A fox!  We trailed the fox around the pond and down the hill, then continued our exploration, talking about the animals living around the pond, the path of the sun in winter, and learning about the surrounding trees.  Before we knew it, it was time to head back to camp for lunch.

After filling our bellies, we relaxed and finished carving out our spoons that were started the night before.  Then it was time to get to work on our shelter.  We decided to work together to build a wiki up, a large teepee-like structure.  All of us gathered sticks, logs, branches, and bark to build the framework and construct the outside walls.  When we were finished with our work, we all piled inside to appreciate the shelter that nature provided us.  Thankful for the long day of working and wandering, we returned to camp.

The first order of business was to get a fire started to make dinner and warm our bones.  We worked in small teams to build one match fires, which was quite a challenge given the previous night’s weather.  After several attempts, we got a fire and worked together to keep it going strong.  By the time dinner was ready, we were all excited to eat and share stories.  Glad we saved room for dessert, because the campout wouldn’t have been complete with s’mores!  After our tasty treats it was time for a much needed rest.  Back to our tents until morning!

Day Three

The night was quiet and still, and everyone slept like a log.  When we woke up, we started packing our tents and our gear, then had breakfast together.  We circled up around our campfire one last time to share our favorite moments of the Overnight Experience.  Before going home, we all wanted to spend some more time wandering in the woods, so off we went, hopping tree to tree on fallen logs, around the pond and into the forest.  The first parents began to arrive, just as we gathered in the wiki up to say our goodbyes.  We were all sad to leave our beautiful camp, but were excited to tell our friends and families all about our adventures!

Unfortunately our camera died on this trip so we only have two mobile pics.

Read about  all of our recent activities and workshops on the AK Blog

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

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