Week 8: Working in community

Today was a day filled with community. What a wonderful thing it is to come together as a group – working and playing for the benefit of all!

The day started out with something new – Brady, one of the mentors for Magpie circle (the boys’ circle that meets at the same time as us) offered to teach our girls a new game called Limb Tag! At first, the girls were hesitant to join up with the boys, but they were so welcoming, we just had to play! The game was great fun, and it was so fun to play with our new friends! The basics of the game are this: if one of your limbs is tagged, you can’t use it anymore! As your limbs are tagged, the game gets harder and harder! Once you’re completely out of limbs, someone can revive you completely by giving you a tap on the head.

We ran and played for a long time! Out of breath and excited for this new experience, we said thanks to Brady and the Magpies and circled up with our group. We shared a round of thanks for all of the things we were feeling grateful for on this day. We then explained the plan for the day.

This week was different than most days. Usually, we participate in group activities as a whole. Today, we were all working together, but in a new way. We formed three groups, all of which were open to participation. At first, each mentor chose three girls to join their group. So, our master fire-maker, led the fire-making group. Sage welcomed three girls into her group to make some delicious hot cocoa for everyone. I led three girls in learning to make pine needle baskets.

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At first, the girls we chose hung around us, helped in the group they were assigned, and participated fully. As time went on, some of the girls were drawn to a new group. Others decided they wanted to do their own thing! It was really entertaining and interesting to see how each of the girls fit themselves into the group in the way that was most comfortable and enjoyable. But each girl was contributing to the whole experience!

 

Iris, who started out in my group, was pretty excited that I had a camera. I asked if she would be our photographer for the day! Her photos are seen here in this post. She took so many, the battery ran out!!

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I was so focused on teaching the girls the art of pine needle basket making, I hardly got a chance to check in with the other groups, but every time I did, it seemed that they were having the same experience! So told me that they were worried that the fire wasn’t going to work! It was a little bit breezy, and the wood that we had gathered was slow to catch. But eventually, the branches caught, and burned hot! Others filled our pan with water, which was then placed on the grill to begin heating.

Meanwhile, I had two dedicated participants who were so excited to learn basket making! I was so impressed with Francesca and Camille. Not only did they work like they had done this before, they were patient, helpful, and asked so many great questions!

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Because I wasn’t sure how far we’d get on the basket, I brought a round piece of hide that had holes poked on the circumference. We began our basket on this piece of hide. Not far into it, the girls were so excited, they asked if I would show them how to begin the basket from the center coil, like the example I had brought. I am SO proud of these girls’ dedication to learning! The center coil is difficult, as it’s very small, and the stitches must be placed perfectly for it to work. But I was up for the challenge if they were! We worked together and by the end of the day, both girls had a solid center coil and some thread and pine needles to take home with them!

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Camille told me, “Thank you for teaching me my new passion!” I just have to say, these are the moments that remind me just how lucky I am to be able to work with young people. Sometimes, the impact we are making isn’t so clear cut. But when she said this to me, I couldn’t stop smiling for the whole rest of my night! I can’t wait to see how much progress these two make on their baskets this week!

Just 15 minutes before the end of our time together, Sage and her group called us together to share the delicious hot chocolate they had made for the group! We made a toast together and drank to our hearts’ content!

Together, the group cleaned up our area together. The fire was put out, our cups were gathered and discarded. and our basket making supplies were put away. We joined up together by the picnic tables to share our highlights of the day. We cheered and said our goodbyes!

With a full heart,

Arielle

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