The Gray Wolves are on the cusp of really engaging opportunities with the Boys Explorers Club. A few boys have begun, for instance, to learn to mentor younger boys through Wild Whatcom’s Explorers Mentors Apprentice (EMA) program. Summer backpack trips have and will provide the setting for them to put the wilderness travel skills we’ve been working on to use. And now, FIRE!
We began our outing last Saturday with the tantalizing prospect of starting a fire without the aid of matches, lighters or other “modern” fire making tools.
Next, along our short hike to the Larrabee State Park picnic area (chosen so as not to cause too much impact by making fires in open park areas), we searched for natural materials, primarily Western Hemlock branches, which are more likely to stay dry in our very wet spring weather, Truth be known, mentor Glen harvested more than the rest of us combined. Glen also provided “fat wood” to help ignite our bundle of jute cord, hemlock twigs and more.
Now for the true test. Using a ferrocerium rod, the Gray Wolves tried, and almost succeeded, to start their fire, without match or lighter, in a steady drizzle. They got a flame but couldn’t manage to convert it into a sustained blaze. Fair to say the Gray Wolves have a greater appreciation of the convenient tools we have now as well as a sense of how to manage without them. Check out the photo of the spark coming off the rod.
After that hard work, it was time for relaxation and celebration. So we used our lighter-ignited fire to cook “Pigs in a blanket”. Much laughing and high-spirited hi jinx followed.
We then hiked down to the beach for a good long stretch of timeless wandering. Saturday was special for the skills work, but also for the chance for your Explorers to, in the words of the good folks at Wilderness Awareness School, “Wander through the landscape without time, destination, agenda, or future purpose; be present in the moment; and go off-trail wherever curiosity leads. Unstructured time, wander, walk-about — during this timeless, unstructured play anything is possible and self-guided experience leads to wonder, curiosity and learning. There is nothing to accomplish, nowhere to go. By just being present in the moment, curiosity gently leads us wherever we go.”
There’s more work to be done around fire, but we made good progress on this outing. The culmination of our work and play this year will happen on our last outing this year. During our extended time at beautiful Racehorse Falls, we’ll get to combine shelter-building, cooking, fire-making and more. That all happens on Saturday, May 12, from 9:00 am ’til 4:00 pm.
In the meantime, enjoy more photos from Saturday’s outing.