Yesterday I stood in the forest surrounded by 46 children, 21 young adults and together we were so quiet we could hear the wind in the trees and each note of a robin’s song. As clouds passed overhead we opened our awareness to our peripheral vision and saw maple trees and shagbark hickories sway while also seeing the weary, smiling faces within our circle.
This is my seventh summer at Wild Earth’s Kestrel Camp and each year I am inspired, challenged and stretched as I show up in the forest with children, teens and adults. For several weeks each summer I spend my days playing, exploring and connecting in the woods with six to ten year olds and an incredible group of instructors.
The fire from the sun
Feeds the fire from the trees
Feeds the fire that we light tonight
Song commonly sung at Wild Earth
Imagine children bursting with vitality, singing songs of sun, trees and fire as a group of teens break sweat and create fire using only muscles, wood and friction.
Imagine an 18 year old sharing a story and transporting 66 children and adults to a hot and dry desert where a Bedouin man creates fire with his hands and teaches the skills to locate water.
Imagine starting your day with gratitude and song in a circle diverse in age and experience.
Imagine sitting quietly, watching insects crawl as your attention slowly expands and you notice an oriole flying above carrying strands of grass. Imagine you’re not alone. Imagine that dozens of adults and children also sit quietly across the landscape surrounding you.
Imagine using two sticks to pull a coal from the fire and attentively blowing on the coal as you burn a hole in a piece of red cedar that will become the bowl of a spoon that you will carve.
Imagine playing in clay and mud and grass and getting so dirty that your clothing and skin blend seamlessly into the landscape and you’re able to quietly sneak up on an unsuspecting young adult who’s busy talking with a friend.
Imagine looking to a silver haired elder with reverence as they share a story about coyotes in snow and magical visions.
After just two days of Wild Earth summer camp the chatter of my mind has slowed, my heart has grown so much more full, and most remarkable of all – my vision, my relationship to purpose and my impact on the world is clearer than ever.
I am so excited for where Wild Earth is going.
Envision digital detox weekends for adults. Imagine what could fill the voids left by our smartphones!
Envision families cooking dinner over a fire built by teenage girls using no matches, no lighter and tools they carved themselves.
Envision pre-teen boys being greeted by men of many ages, walking into the forest to meet the unknown.
Envision seventh graders singing as they create theater and entertainment for sixth graders in the forest.
May this coming year bring more growth, connection and mystery to all of our lives.
As a child Simon spent countless hours exploring the forest, streams and wetlands of his neighborhood in NJ. Simon has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont where he focused on the relationship between a healthy human psyche and a vibrant natural world. He has staffed and studied with various wilderness schools throughout the Northeast including the Institute for Natural Learning, White Pine Programs and the Vermont Wilderness School. When he’s not in the woods, Simon is designing and building websites and other internet solutions. More about Simon's work.