In early November, as the early winter weather began to really arrive, more than sixty 9-13 year-old Artemis Moon Girls and Atlatl Boys spent their Fall overnight (about 20 degrees that evening) on Wild Earth’s new land. Perhaps your child was one of them.
The oldest Artemis girls, self-named the “Grey Wolves,” (age 12-14), just a month before, had a more easeful and connecting overnight themselves. The girls bonded over building their own longhouse. And, they met their mission of tending a fire all night long together, practicing cooperation and collaboration.
These most experienced Artemis youth, who were really treated to a lot of fun and connection in October, were now asked to step into a place of service and leadership for their younger friends. And, with a really large group and a very cold night ahead, the need was REAL.
These new leaders guided activities, facilitated the night games, and slept in the longhouse they had built last month. As Esperanza Gonzalez, our Program Director, recounted after the program, “Our work of developing multi-generational leadership is really coming to fruition.”
Though the temperatures dipped, everyone made it through the cold night! In the morning, the Grey Wolves took the initiative to start the breakfast fire, instead of waiting with plates in hands as so many of the youngers will do. As the overnight was winding down, Esperanza invited the older girls to get the rest of the group enthused about the final activity. “Would any of the Grey Wolves like to explain a sit spot?” V offered to help. She said, “We’ve been hanging out and laughing a lot, and that’s great, but this is a time to sit by yourself and gather your thoughts.”
For 16 years, edge experiences and rites of passage like these have been integral to our collective vision of cultivating character, confidence, and passion in our youth. At Wild Earth, these transformative experiences are never endeavored in isolation; rather they are held in community by people who love and support each child. We are a village, an intentional community, in the woods.
Behind the curtain of these mentored nature immersion experiences is a vision of raising confident, courageous, and resilient future leaders. The truth is, we are leaving our children a host of really BIG challenges, a very uncertain future.
In today’s world, our young people are offered few experiences that demonstrate REAL need, so they never get to see how strong and powerful they really are. Certainly, our social media, cell phone, and texting overload are only contributing to the dis-connection.
How are we going to stay warm and dry? How are we going to stay fed and nourished? How will I help my friend who has never slept out in the winter and is scared? How will we work together to not just survive, but THRIVE!
As our youth demonstrate their ability to meet REAL needs, their character grows and they begin to inhabit a place of self-confidence and compassion that will help them lead, thrive and serve in whatever future is coming. For sure, our planet and our people will need leaders like this in a new, more resilient, connected and just world we are creating together.
Wild Earth is completely focused on uplifting the youth of New York into their growing leadership, service, and purpose in this way.
Thank you, in advance, for being a part of our work! If you haven’t already, join us as a donor and make Wild Earth possible for all!
In 2004, David co-founded and, today, is the Executive Director of Wild Earth, where he seeks to help regenerate healthy community culture and create opportunities for people to connect with themselves, each other and the Earth. Prior to founding Wild Earth, David worked as a wealth advisor on Wall Street for twelve years before realizing a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children, and creating a small family farm. Today, the Brownsteins raise dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees and vegetables in season. David also maintains an active counseling practice called Root Connections, where he focuses on helping individuals, couples, groups and business leaders identify and manifest their unique vision. More about David's work.