Each leaf dying is like a newfound spring, etching colorful patterns resembling decaying lace. In November, at the Apprenticeship Program, I was not only inspired by the changing landscape, but also by the group of adults who chose to join me in this endeavor of experiential learning.
We began the day by building individual debris huts. As we knew rain would be upon us during the night, we had to make sure that our shelters were completely waterproof. We built a frame by using two Y-Sticks and a long, sturdy ridge-pole in between. The fun part was testing the strength of this pole- we had to jump on top to see if it would hold our entire body weight!
Those of us that weren’t staying the night raked bundle-after-bundle of leaves, and trekked them to each shelter. By packing on about 4 feet of leaves and gathered tree bark to the sides, the rain would actually serve to compress and seal these walls, helping to block cold air and wind as well.
As darkness fell, the rain followed soon after. And as one person pointed out, most of the time while making a shelter, we only get to estimate how dry we would remain. However, not this time! Two of the three shelters were completely waterproof- keeping the lucky apprentice’s dry, cozy and inspired.
There is something innately special about sleeping in a self-made shelter, and sharing that independence with the group. I believe that is much of what becoming an apprentice with Wild Earth is about – an opportunity for experiences that are more independent, more solo, yet with support of the whole.
And, if we get a little wet in the process, there’s always time to crawl on back to the group tarp and dry off for a while. If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that there’s always another rainy, fall-scented night to be spent in the woods home.
Wild Earth joins inspired leaders in offering multi-generational programs and events that strengthen connections with ourselves, others, and the Earth while building ecological, social and cultural resilience. Located along the Shawangunk Ridge in New York’s Hudson Valley, Wild Earth is a not-for-profit that runs nature-based programs for children, teens, families and adults. More about Wild's work.