Fire, Blindfolds, Balancing and River-Play

Published April 29th, 2016

We had an excellent first day of Kestrel Spring Discovery! Here is the story of our day.

The weather was near perfect, not too hot and not too cold. As all of the children arrived, we gathered in a circle where the instructors introduced themselves. Each instructor acted out the behavior and form of their favorite bird and the kids did a great job identifying them.

The children naturally followed one of our young adult instructors in stretching and awakening their bodies as the entire group prepared for a day of playing and exploring in the forest. Our morning circle wasn’t complete without a song. We were treated to the first verse of a sea shanty taught by myself and one of our teen volunteers.

We spent the remainder of the morning split into groups by age. The older kids adventured into the forest to explore the upper reaches of the Stony Kill property. The younger ones setup camp in a beautiful pine forest.

The older group was eager to make a fire, we challenged them to find a way to carry a coal from their fire down to the younger groups camp so that all of the groups could enjoy a fire at lunch time. The group figured out how to use “punky”, rotted wood to carry the coal while keeping it burning. They used handmade stick-tongs to place the coal into a nest of rotted wood and wrapped the smoking bundle in grape vine bark. It was a success!

Meanwhile, the younger group played blindfolded games. In one of the games, children pair up and one member of the pair wears a blindfold as their partner gently guides them to a tree. The blindfolded child uses their non-sight senses to learn as much as they can about the tree they are “meeting”. They are then guided back to their starting point where they take off their blindfold and try to find the tree they just met while blindfolded. It’s amazing to see how aware we can become when one of our primary senses takes a back-seat.

The groups rejoined for a fire-side lunch and in the afternoon, we enjoyed a mix of high and lower energy activities. Some children played jump rope while others took turns playing tug of war as they balanced atop a log standing on its narrow end.

At the same time, other children carved sumac beads and made necklaces with Stephanie or they practiced the art of throwing sticks at targets with Jason.

The afternoon activities wrapped up with a boat hunt. Hiding amongst the trees and rocks of the forest were two hand-carved wooden boats. Once the boats were successfully found, the entire group went down to the Stony Kill creek for to race the “Turtle Boat” and the “Shark Boat” and to enjoy other creekside activities like rock sculpting and rock skipping.

Once again, it was a great honor to bring your children into the wild bounty of the forest. We are so grateful for your trust and for your support. We’re looking forward to the remaining two days of the Kestrel Spring Program.

See you in the woods!
Dustin Lamberta


Dustin LambertaDustin LambertaDustin Lamberta, Program Manager

Dustin began his wilderness journey playing with his sister and other neighborhood kids in the “woods” (an acre of marshy land deemed too wet for development) near his suburban Long Island childhood home. After focusing his studies on political science, and philosophy at SUNY New Paltz, he began to take in interest in local food and ecology while working at local farms and wineries. In Fall, 2011 he was introduced to Wild Earth by his friend Thomas Meli, and began attending the Dawn Song Village Program. He has since worked at Kestrel Camp. Dustin has also staffed programs for White Pine Programs in Maine and Coyote Club Wildlife Education Programs in New Hampshire. He has a passion for bird language, harvesting edible plants, and sharing stories of deep nature connection. He received a permaculture design certification through Green Phoenix Permaculture and has been to two New England Bird Language Intensives with White Pine Programs, as an attendant and staff facilitator. More about Dustin's work.

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