I see, I remember. I do, I understand. I do again, I understand even more!
This week was one of those weeks where our plan changed throughout the day. Those days are my favorite, because we are able to really go with the flow of the group, following their learning and facilitating their curiosity!
As you read last week, we spent our day playing Eagle Eye and following four deer through the meadow. This week was similar, with some added layers of learning.
We opened our day with a game called Firekeeper. This is a game of true stealth and enhanced senses. The firekeeper, sits blindfolded in the center of the circle. In front of her an object such as a key ring is placed. The object should be noisy when it is picked up! The rest of the group surrounds the fire keeper and each girl tries to sneak up to the fire keeper and steal the “fire” or the jingly object. If the fire keeper hears anything, they point their finger in that direction, and if they point at a sneaker, they must return to the edge of the circle. This game challenges the group to be as stealthy as possible! It was especially difficult this week because of all of the fallen leaves on the ground – they sure are crunchy!
After this, we circled up for thanksgiving, sharing many of the things we were feeling grateful for on that day. Many were thankful for the beautiful weather, the changing leaves, and their families and friends.
The plan for the day was kept mostly a secret. This could have been because we were improvising, or maybe it was because we wanted there to be an element of surprise throughout our day! What I did reveal was that we’d be going on a wander, and that there would be some camouflage involved!
We began our walk through the woods. We arrived at a clearing on the McClintock trail, where Rivi promptly called out, “Eagle eye!” By now, the girls know just what to do in this situation! We all took cover around her, keeping one eye on our scout! As Rivi called us out of our hiding, some girls were frustrated with how quickly they had been found out! This frustration was soon guided toward motivation to get better at hiding!
After the game, I called the girls around me and asked them why they thought they had been seen. Some were wearing bright colors that don’t blend into the environment naturally. Others thought they had gotten too close. No matter what the reason, the girls were motivated to improve their camouflage and hiding.
In my backpack, I had a few surprises for them. My challenge for the group was: Camouflage yourself better! What natural materials can you use to help hide? How can this charcoal help you to camouflage your skin? The girls went to town coloring lines on their skin with the coals and nestling leaves and grasses in their hair. They learned that the more variety in their camouflage, the better it works. Coloring your whole body with charcoal just makes you look obvious! But if you leave splotches of skin, mixed with leaves and sticks, you will blend into your environment with much more ease!
We continued our walk up the trail, excited about our new attire. At that point, Pinar snuck away from the group for a few minutes to figure out what our next mission would be. Just as we entered a wooded area of the trail, Rivi once again called out “Eagle Eye!”
With the girls’ new understanding, their hiding improved significantly! Many of the girls weren’t found out until the second or third round of the game. Still, I sensed frustration from a few of the girls in their hiding, but this only motivated the group even more.
Meanwhile, Pinar snuck back into the forest to reveal our next activity. They had spotted deer in the meadow just above where we were playing! Were they the same deer we found last week?
With enthusiasm, the girls followed Pinar in a fox trot, a quiet jog, up the trail. As we entered the meadow, we spotted the does! This time, the mentors watched the girls from a distance, while showing the girls good ways in which to sneak up on our friends. We crawled on all fours, mimicked the deer’s behaviors, even pretended to eat what they were eating! Our stalk lasted about 15-20 minutes and led us nearly to the ridge! We were very impressed with the girls’ improvement in their sneaking, and their ability to respect our friends while admiring their beauty.
While the girls were enthralled with our forest friends, Pinar and I snuck back to the grassy area and hid ourselves as best we could in the tall stalks. Rivi led the group back, and as I lay curled in the grass, many of the girls walked right past me and Pinar! They had no idea where we had gone! I heard one girl call out, “their backpacks are here!” which was a great discovery to where we were hiding, as we placed our bags not ten feet from us! The girls searched around us for a few minutes, then Pinar started making a bird-like chirping noise! The girls immediately perked up and moved back toward our hiding spots! I clicked my tongue a few times, and heard the girls rustle closer to us. Finally, I was discovered! Pinar was found shortly after me! The girls were surprised at how well we were hiding! We all laughed as we fox trotted back to the picnic tables.
We shared a quick round of highlights before we met up with the families.
We had a great time delving deeper into natural camouflage with the group! Next week, we plan to expand on this topic in new ways.
Ask your daughter, what are the best colors to wear so as to best hide in the Chautauqua environment? Encourage them to dress in camouflage next week!