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Wilderness Cooking with High School Teens

Published June 28th, 2017

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Below is a story from our our Ropes Teen program back in February.

Each teen was met by an instructor as they arrived in the darkness of the night.

One by one, they were escorted into the woods, and the teens were asked if they were ready for an adventure.

A string had been previously set up, leading from the top of the hill all the way to the bottom. It twisted around trees, went over logs, under obstacles, and over a small stream. With blindfolds on, the teens held on to the string with one hand. Without sight, they were called to use other senses as they walked through the dark woods.

This was no short journey, but as the teens found their way to the end of the string, they were met with a roaring warm fire and an elaborate multi-stationed primitive cooking set up.

Jonathan and Vinnie (a Wild Earth volunteer), graciously set up and tended these epic fires throughout the evening as the teens enjoyed cooking a communal meal, relaxing into the celebration of gathering together.

The teens prepared and roasted whole fish and vegetable kabobs over hot coals, made fresh tea using a rock boil technique (where rocks are buried in the middle of burning coals/fire and then placed into a pot of cold water… It’s surprising how quickly the water starts to boil!). Taking advantage of the heat of the fire, teens converted flat rocks into frying pans, making some of the best grilled cheese ever!

We even had chicken roasting on a spit over a fire. And to top it off… we made banana boats for dessert on the fire’s hot coals.

Wilderness cooking techniques were a first for many of us, and an amazing experience for all of us.

It was a delight to see the joy in the teens as we feasted together, sang songs, laughed, and celebrated our connection to each other, our food, the land that held us, and the fire that united us.

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.

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