Howdy There proud Bobcat parents! I sincerely apologize that I have not gotten a blog out before this point! We have just been having so much fun and all of a sudden the time is now! I will give a synopsis of our fall session thus far and I will strive to do my best to keep on it a little more regularly as the year progrsses.
The Bobcats (or Bob-kittens as some are lichen to be called ;) ) are a new clan made up of really sweet kids! We are blessed with a 50/50 gender balance and the wonderful Wendy Kaas and myself are the co-lead mentors.
Stretching back to the first day we split into clans (which was actually about week three of the program) we had nice unity from the beginning. I told a never before heard story sitting near a cool structure that some Village Day kids had constructed a previous year. The story was about a bunch of wild animals having thier first day at a camp that sounded shockingly similar to our Village Day model. There were bobcats, deer, coyotes, cougars, raccoon, bears, and a host of other characters.
After that we took a hike up to the high meadow. Along the way we found an amazing spring on the land where we could safely fill up our bottles and gave thanks for such a blessing in this dry landscape! With full bottles we decided to play a big running game! I had come up with a new game recently while biking to an after-school program! After reading in two separate source about Coyotes and Badgers working together to hunt burrowing rodents, I decided they needed thier own game… so “Badger and Coyote” was born! It was instantly a load of fun! We delineate some bushes and scrubby trees as “burrows” and start the game with one Badger, zero Coyotes and a heap of Ground Squirrels. The Squirrels are safe in their burrows until the Badger mock scratches the burrow and counts to three out loud. Once three is hit, the burrow is compromised and the Squirrels have to run! Once a Squirrel gets tagged they become a Coyote! As you might have guessed the Coyotes take advantage of the chaos and pick off panicked Squirrels as they flee their safe, cozy burrows. It ain’t pretty, but it is nature!
We played some other (less tiresome) games later next to some beautiful Wild Oregano plants starting to get ready for the wintertime. This games were a great tool to help us learn each others names a little better as well as a little something about our new clanmates. There was some nice bonding happening already, especially when we ate lunch in the shade of a beautiful Willow tree. The tree was in this cool little ravine in the middle of the high valley. The kids thought it might make a cool sneaky travel route for some local creatures! Maybe we can get up there an check out some tracks on a snow day this year!
For the next 3 weeks, the Bobcats worked on a multilevel project! We wanted to carve digging sticks to harvest some of the abundant Wild Licorice root that grows on the land for a tea. This was one of the plants that really thirved after the flood. To accomplish this first we needed to make sure everyone was on the same page as far as how to use a knife as safely as possible at Village Day. They now all know to: 1)Ask Permission from a Mentor; 2) Set a “Blood Bubble” (or safe carving zone) for themselves; 3) Carve off of and away from their bodies; 4) To “Close the Door” (sheathe their knives whenever it is not in use; and 5) A Knife is a Tool, never a toy or a weapon! To drive the point home the mentors performed some live action skits on knife safety scenarios. After that each child had a 1 on 1 session with a mentor to “certify” them to use their knife on program!
We still had to go find our digging sticks and eventually found a sweet stash of Willow and Locust branches that had been recently pruned by the property owners. We sawed off the proper lengths and had a little while to work on carving them. Some were able to make more progress then others on the first day. The ones trying to carve the ultra hard locust wood had an especially tough time and few ended up trading out for the much easier to carve Willow.
The next day we finished our carving our sticks. After finishing, we worked on a technique of strengthening wood tools over a fire called fire hardening.
At lunch time, while we nourished our bodies with delicious food, Wendy taught everyone all about this amazing North American Native Medicinal Plant! Wild Licorice, or Glycyrrhiza lepidota was known by many Native American tribes to be a powerful herbal ally. The Cheyenne were known to eat the sweet, tender spring roots raw. (The name, Glycyrrhiza, finds its Greek roots in glukos/sweet & rhiza/root) Other reported uses include leaf infusions to combat diarrhea, suckin on the burrs for moisture & making poultices for inflammation and earaches. The root is by far the most powerful part though. It was used for toothaches, pain, swelling, cold, fever, flu, upset stomachs, coughs and more! It also makes a soothing mucilaginous tea for a sore throat. As modern research into this plant is made science agrees that Wild Licorice is amazing!
It also makes a real nice tea!
So we talked about clearing a spot on the land that our people like to gather at and the licorice gets a little trampled anyway. The kids were all eager to try out their digging sticks! We thought digging into the sandy substrate but under the cottonwood tree where we were digging the soil was thick and extremely hard to dig through! Everyone was working so hard, it was great being around all of that excited energy! As we dug we found that some of the roots broke off and others went sideways! Maria Jose and a few of the other girls patiently and gently dug a root that had to have been 3 feet long but growing laterally just and inch below the surface! We gave thanks to the plant and the abundance of root we were able to harvest that day! Wendy took them home to dry.
The following week we finally got to make our tea over the fire! It also just happened to be the rainiest day of the whole Autumn! We processed the dried root into smaller pieces for the tea and boiled a giant pot of water on the coals! While the tea was steeping some cold and hungry Raccoon Clan friends came to the fire to warm up and have lunch so we hung with them for a while and had lunch. Then we teamed up to play a really fun tracking game!
After lunch it cleared up a little so our clan went out to sit at our sit spots. Upon return, everyone was served warm Wild Licorice Tea! It was really refreshing, although the number one kid comment was that it needed some honey! It was by all means a well earned cup of tea for Bobcat clan! When the other clans came in for closing circle we got to share with them too. That felt nice!
Another amazing week after that we instructors were all jazzed up after facilitating a Bird Language Intensive Weekend with Jon Young and teamed up for a Village Wide Bird Day! I really like the way my fellow Mentor, So, wrote about it so eloquently that I will just link you to their colorful description of the day!
During our time as a clan that day the Bobcats enjoyed playing a game where they are paired up. They have a minute to come up with a call that is unique and they can repeat out loud. Then both partners are blindfolded and led to different places. When everyone is in place, every blindfolded child starts to make their call and find their partner! It was quite the cacophony but everyone found their friend.
They all liked it so much but wanted bigger teams! So we played another round with two flocks, a boy flock and a girl flock. This round may have been even more fun to watch and I hope the children developed some empathy for the birds trying to communicate out there in the world!
That takes us through the beginning of November!
I will fill you in on the last few weeks soon!