Why High School Teens Spent Two-Nights Sleeping Outside In January

Published February 7th, 2017

1 comment

With the windchill, the temperatures were in the negatives at night and not much warmer during the days! But we didn’t hear a single complaint about the weather all weekend!

Here’s a little re-cap from our two-night January overnight at the Ropes: Wilderness Program for High School Teens:

The dark of night had already settled in, as we began to set up our camp on Friday.

With the added challenges of our food and water freezing for the weekend, there was plenty of strategic planning for the crew to undertake. We split up into groups, some set up the kitchen area, while others gathered or chopped fire wood, and the rest helped set up tarps over a longhouse structure.

Earlier in the year, the boys in the Atlatl program had created a frame to a long house structure. After securing tarps over it, this became our shelter for the weekend. We even had a chiminea stove in the center, which helped us warm up the structure by a few degrees. (Be sure to check out the photo below!)

When the work was finished, and after a warm meal, the teens split into two groups for an intensified version of 24-Hour Capture The Flag.

The night was cold, but spirits were high. And though some experiences are hard to encapsulate through words, the teens all found their unique place in the game, faced their challenges, and had a great time. Bonus points were awarded to either team that kept their fire lit until sunrise. It was a bit surprising to see the majority of the teens going full force with this challenge, tending their fires until dawn!!

With the morning upon us, slumber called! And our Saturday was off to a nice slow start = )

With the cold, and a bit of lingering sleepiness, we moved with a touch of slowness through the rest of the weekend. Getting a chance to make some coal burned bowls and exploring the land/river in the daylight was a treat! And we were lucky enough to witness the teens create some of the best freestyle music jams we’ve ever heard!!

Our last night was filled with cooking dinner together around the fire, before curling up in our longhouse for an early nights rest.

After spending a full weekend outdoors in 10 degree weather the cold days don’t seem as brisk anymore.

It was no easy task, and I know everyone out there was facing their own challenge. Ultimately, it was through the challenge, that we were able to recognize our own strength!

With warmth on the cold nights,
Stephanie, Michaela, and Jonathan

Big thanks to the Maya Gold Foundation for supporting this program and helping to bring teens into the woods for character building adventures!


Stephanie HertelStephanie HertelStephanie Hertel, Program Coordinator

Stephanie grew up in the woods of northern New York State. Her early days were filled with playing outdoors and wild harvesting food. Now, as a certified herbalist and seasoned grower for 6 years, Stephanie's roots are shown in her work as a therapeutic and medicinal garden consultant. She is currently creating and implementing a horticulture therapy program for the Anderson center for autism. Through her love of teaching herbalism, homesteading skills, and other ancient healing techniques, she strives to give others the tools necessary to lead a happy and healthy life. Her passion for making herbal products, natural crafts, and wild harvesting medicinal and edible plants are highlighted in her offerings as a wilderness educator. More about Stephanie's work.

1 thought on “Why High School Teens Spent Two-Nights Sleeping Outside In January”

  1. Eileen McGowan says:

    Really appreciate the work you all do at Wild Earth! Love this program for teens! So important to help them connect with themselves and one another – through nature – and to give them an opportunity to become influenced by the natural worlds, rather than a tiny screen. I just referred a mother to your program, whose daughter is struggling with being “trampled” in a large public middle school. Apparently, it has become an acceptable term (really?) for the older kids to trample over the younger ones, literally, in the school hallways. Her daughter is looking for some kind kids to hang out with and I thought of you all! Thanks again from a mother of a prior wild earther.

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