Bush Craft Information Letter 2017-18

Greetings and Welcome!

Thank you for registering your child for Wild Intelligence’s Kids’ Bushcraft Weekends program!

At Wild Intelligence, we believe in long-term mentoring relationships. Therefore, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with your child.  We don’t take your trust in us lightly. To us, relationships are at the center of our work – with you as parents, with your child, and with the natural world. We consider ourselves mentoring partners with you as parents and therefore we hope this letter begins a connection that is more than just need-to-know information; rather, we want this to be the beginning (or continuation) of a community of support as your child grows and develops.

We can’t wait to see the sparkle in the eyes of your child as they return home at the end of each weekend, full of inspiration, confidence and appreciation for nature and community!

But for now, some more formal information…

This letter provides important information that you will need in order to prepare your child for the program; please read it thoroughly!

If after reading this letter you still have questions, please call the Program Manager, Bernard Cook at

(706) 340 – 8549, or email him at bernard@wildintelligence.org

If you need further assistance, please contact our Program Director, Sarah Hubbard, at sarah@wildintelligence.org or (706) 255-8937.

Please note that these are our personal cell phones. We request that you limit calls to weekdays 8 AM to 6 PM, except in case of emergency.

Time and Location:

Drop off is at 1:00 PM on Saturday and pickup is at 12:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. We will not have lunch on Saturday or Sunday. The only meals we provide during program are supper on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. All programs will be held at:

307 Hutchins-Wolfskin Rd

Stephens, GA 30667

We have not used this land for programs before and we are very excited to explore it! There are about 600 wild acres of forest, fields, creeks, and a pond.

The program dates are:

  • September 23-24
  • October 28-29
  • December 16-17
  • January 20-21
  • February 24-25
  • March 17-18
  • April 28-29

Directions:

Drop-off and pick-up will be in the front parking area at

307 Hutchins-Wolfskin Rd

Stephens, GA 30667

To get here from Downtown Athens:

Take Lexingon Rd / US-78 East toward Crawford

Turn right onto S Broad St. in Crawford

Keep right to continue on Hutchins Rd

Merge onto GA-77 S

Turn right onto Hutchins Wolfskin Rd.

The driveway will be on the left

Drop-off and Pick-up:

Drop-off…

Drop-off is at 1:00 PM on Saturday. One of our staff will greet you and will have a sign-in sheet for you. Please sign your child in every time.  Please do your best to arrive on time each weekend.  If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late or your child is not coming, please contact Bernard Cook at (706) 340 – 8549 as soon as possible. This helps us manage the flow of the evening and allows the rest of the participants maximum woods time.  

Pick-up…

Please arrive to pick up and sign your child out at 12:00 PM on Sunday.

No Early Arrival/Late Pickup…

Please know that although our staff are on-site both before and after the sign-in and sign-out times, they are not available to supervise your child outside of the arrival and pickup times indicated above. This time is used for program planning and debrief, and it is critical to us being able to provide each individual camper and the group with the best day possible.  We acknowledge that this can be a challenge for working parents and appreciate your understanding.

Sign-In and Sign-Out…

It is our policy that each participant be signed in and out each program weekend. Please make sure that everyone who is authorized to drop off or pick up your child is aware of the need to do this! Sign-in each weekend will be on a clip-board that one of our instructors will be holding. Please make a note if your child is going home with someone else!

Inclement Weather:

Our programs take place outside. We do have a pavilions available at the land. If the weather becomes temporarily unsafe, we will wait it out in one of the shelters. It’s a great time for stories and games! Occasionally the weather does take a harsher turn and we have to cancel our programs. We watch the weather closely and will notify you the evening before if we are going to have to cancel a day. We take cancelling our programs very seriously and ONLY do it if we believe the weather is going to put your child in an unsafe environment – meaning tornadoes, heavy thunder and lightning, high winds or extreme cold. Rain is something we can contend with and is often fun!  If we have to cancel a weekend, we will make every attempt to make it up.

What to Pack:

  • FULL 1-liter water bottle.
  • Snacks.
  • A plate and/or bowl, mug, and utensils.

A backpack to carry personal belongings in for about a half-mile.

  • A Knife. (Optional)
    • ** A Note on Knives: This is up to parent discretion; however, we will have the opportunity to properly mentor campers in the safe and effective use of knives for carving and other skills. This program has a strong focus on knife skills and projects using knives and other camp tools. Knife safety and handling is a very important skill.  We have a process in which participants get “Knife-Safety Certified” – which means they can carry and use their knives under supervision at our programs. Participants who have earned certification receive a card to document their achievement, the date to re-certify, and also lists our knife safety protocols. This allows mentors to know a camper is currently certified, reminds them of the protocols, and informs parents so that they may encourage those protocols at home if they choose.

** Type of Knife to bring: If you want your child to have a knife, we strongly recommend that it

have:

  • a 2-4 inch, straight blade
  • Non-serrated
  • Non-folding fixed blade
  • Full-tang is best
  • Folding knives MUST LOCK INTO PLACE
  • We use knives from the Swedish company, Mora, as the standard in our programs and have them for sale. They are high quality and inexpensive. We also have enough knives for everyone to use during programs.
  • Notebook and pencil.
  • Sleeping bag and pad.

** In the cooler months, please ensure that your child’s sleeping bag is rated appropriately for predicted temperatures. Also, wrapping a wool blanket over the bag does an incredible job of keeping in body heat. These can be purchased inexpensively on the Internet.

  • Bathing suit that can get muddy.
  • A raincoat or poncho.
  • One change of clothes. For clothing recommendations, see “What to Wear” below:

What NOT to Pack:

  • Electronics – we will collect their phones at drop off and keep them safe until Sunday – we strongly encourage them to let that world go for the time that they are with us.
  • Excessive sugary snacks or “energy drinks”.
  • More than one change of clothing.
  • Tents are not necessary as primitive shelters will be constructed. However, participants can bring them if that is their preference.
  • Extra items of any sort. We will be hiking in our gear and heavy backpacks become a challenge for all. Bring what you need and need what you bring.

What to Wear:

Appropriate clothing can make an outdoor experience. Poor clothing can break it, or become outright dangerous. We reserve the right to send campers home if they arrive without adequate clothing for the weather.

In general, clothing should be loose and comfortable, able to get very dirty, and appropriate for the weather. Pants, rather than shorts can be helpful if one is new to off-trail hazards such as briars, poison ivy, etc.

In Warmer Weather…

  • Cotton and thin synthetics are fine in the warmer months when hypothermia is less of an issue. They breathe well, and are naturally cooling.
  • Sturdy, close-toed sandals, shoes or light boots.
  • Campers must wear shoes in the creek. If wearing shoes that don’t get wet well, it is helpful to have water shoes or close-toed sandals (like Crocs or Keens) in the pack.

In Cooler Weather…

  • Not cotton, not cotton, not cotton! Cotton does not insulate the body when it is wet, and if wet can lead to hypothermia even at temperatures well above freezing, even in the high 60’s. If it is cool or raining, please do NOT send your child to program wearing cotton clothing!
  • Wool and synthetics like polypropylene or nylon are king in the cold. Both materials do a reasonable job of wicking moisture away from the body and insulating even when wet. Wool feels warmer and turns the wind better, but synthetics tend to be less expensive, more widely available, dry faster, and be machine washable. Excellent quality, non-itchy, Merino wool sweaters are almost always available at thrift stores for about $6 (Goodwill especially is great). We highly recommend these for base layers that work very well. For comparison, Merino wool “base layers” often sell for $60-$80 new and it is the same thing.
  • Hat, hat, hat! Bring a warm hat! The majority of one’s body heat is lost through the head, so a warm hat is crucial. (Again, wool or synthetic are best, not cotton!)
  • Because children love to investigate creeks, tall, insulated, waterproof boots are nice. Avoid thin, uninsulated rubber boots. They are freezing cold.
  • Thick wool or synthetic socks
  • Long johns make a perfect base layer
  • Rain gear or poncho if significant rain is in the forecast.
  • If you need help determining whether your child’s clothing is going to keep them warm in inclement weather, please feel free to ask our staff. We spend lots of time in the woods in all kinds of weather and can offer some tips we’ve learned with experience — we will be happy to help you!

What to Expect:

Program Intention:

The intention for this program is to encourage self-reliance, empowerment, connection, and creativity within our group. To this end, we will spend time setting up a primitive camp with tentless sleeping areas, fireside cooking. We will take time to explore the beautiful trails, enjoy the creek and pond, learn and use camp skills as well as primitive skills, wildcraft, and play games. Campers will also be encouraged to spend some quiet time away from the group to recharge. We seek to offer a wide range of activities to meet the diverse needs of individuals in the group.

Weekend Schedule…

Our days will generally look like this:

  1. We will gather near the parking area until everyone has arrived.
  2. The group will walk to our base camp and bring our minds together with a game and an offering of gratitude.
  3. Camp set up. Campers will be working together to accomplish this task with support from the mentors.
  4. Group activity, skill, or craft.
  5. Meal prep. Campers and mentors will cook each meal together over a fire, we will strive to include at least one wild food source.
  6. Dinner.
  7. Evening activity: games, challenges, stories
  8. Sleep! Campers are welcome to sleep in their own campsites or to find a place under the stars around the main fire.
  9. Saturday morning wake up!
  10. Group movement activity or game to warm up for the day.
  11. Breakfast.
  12. Focused time for a skill or activity for the group.
  13. Camp breakdown.
  14. Closing circle with a sharing about what we are each taking away from the weekend.
  15. Pack out!

Food:

We will provide simple, packable, tasty camp food for breakfast, and dinner. We try to locally source as much food as possible for our meals. Campers will need to bring their own snacks. Examples of potential meal items include:

  • Breakfasts: oatmeal, grits, eggs, fruit and meat.
  • Dinners: rice and beans, pasta, potatoes, veggies, and meats.
  • Participants will also have the option of supplementing meals with wild food we harvest from the land, including wild greens. No food will be harvested without being first approved by a highly experienced mentor, and participants will always be able to turn down the wild food if that is their preference. For more information about our policy regarding wild foods, please see the section below, titled: “Eating the Wild Things”.
  • **If you have particular food requirements, please let the Program Manager know at least one week before the weekend, so that we can plan accordingly.

Our Mentoring Model…

Wild Intelligence is dedicated to mentoring in nature connection. Ideally, this is a relationship between mentor and student that cultivates a healthy relationship between the student and the cultural and natural communities of which he or she is a member.

Good nature connection mentoring is a very conscious and active practice. It is a living model, one that we are evolving based on what we see in our community and feel in our hearts.

What we want to achieve:

We want people to fall in love with nature, their communities, and themselves. While we share a great deal of skills and information about our world with our students, we place more emphasis on relationship. Our work is less about learning objectives, and more about connection.

To accomplish this, we:

  • encourage practices that create connection and avoid those that do otherwise
  • create conditions suitable for growth, and then let nature take its course
  • slow down, embracing nature’s cycles and time frame
  • ask questions and encourage curiosity and self-discovery
  • empower people to discover and pursue their own interests and own identities
  • cultivate and practice deep awareness and core routines in ourselves
  • support each other in our own growth as mentors and as humans
  • release attachment, expectation and judgment

We know it’s working when those we work with:

  • become more open, sharing their authentic selves
  • embrace physicality and contact with nature
  • become vibrant and alive in their bodies
  • get excited by new mysteries in nature
  • ask lots of questions
  • spend more and more time fully engaged in their experience of life
  • show deeper awareness of the world and people around them
  • show increased compassion for living things
  • sense their relationship, connection and membership in the natural community

Dirty Clothes…

At Wild Intelligence we encourage campers to really connect with the natural world! Often that means getting right in  – be it mud, charcoal or berry-juice face paint. Don’t be surprised to pick up a filthy child at the end of the weekend. Keeping some large trash bags in the car for them to sit on at the end of the weekend is a great way to minimize the impact of dirty campers!

Projectile Weapons, Hunting, and Processing Animals…

We share many ancient skills at Wild Intelligence. Some, like archery and rabbit sticks, involve projectile weapons. And they are particularly exhilarating. Who doesn’t love to watch their arrow arc through space and land quivering in the target?

Many projectile weapons existed originally in a hunting context. All of our ancestors at one time were hunter-gatherers. Accordingly, we may talk about hunting and tell personal or ancestral stories about hunting. These stories provide cultural context, ethical guideposts, historical understanding, and mythological lessons. We, however, do not hunt or teach hunting in year-long youth programs.

The respectful unmaking or processing of an animal can be a remarkably connecting experience. Partly because it is edgy, and partly because mammals share so much anatomy and physiology with humans. It provides a deeper understanding of natural cycles and of our commonality with other animals. It is also a very useful wilderness skill. We occasionally bring in legally and ethically hunted game to be processed with children who choose to participate.

Please know that Wild Intelligence places a great emphasis on respect and safety during all of these experiences.

We also understand that animal processing may be an edgy or sensitive experience for some parents or children. Our mentors are very open to speaking with you about any questions or concerns you may have.

Also, it is our policy to:

  • inform parents at the beginning of a program day if there will be any animal processing
  • only process game with participants with prior parental consent
  • honor all decisions to opt out; no one is ever required to participate
  • offer other facilitated activities for those who choose

Eating Wild Things…

There is something particularly wild and connecting about eating natural plant and animal foods. Taking that energy into our bodies, making it us, is a powerful experience. Our policy on wild foods is that:

  • no one is ever required to eat anything
  • all wild foods are ethically and sustainably harvested
  • all wild foods are safely and properly prepared
  • we emphasize positive identification of plants
  • and positive determination that it is not a poisonous look-alike
  • we teach participants to check with a knowledgeable adult before eating self-foraged foods, at Wild Intelligence and at home
  • we are working on a booklet that provides more information and resources to you regarding wild plant foraging

Scrapes, Bug-bites, and other small things…

In general, these days, there is a lot of nature-phobia floating around.  Most often it is very exaggerated, and this is in fact one reason that young people are not playing outside as much these days.  We’re changing that!  On the first day of Program, we will go over possible hazards, such as ticks and poison ivy, and what to look for to make sure your child is safe and strong.  Many of our instructors have had Wilderness First Aid training. They all have real-life experience with the hazardous aspects of the natural world and carry first-aid kits. We are always watching out for your child’s safety.

Parent/Staff Communications:

We encourage our Mentors to get to know our campers’ families and to communicate regularly. We also welcome and invite you to talk with your child’s mentor regarding their experience in the program. If you have a particular concern (or appreciation!) or want to have a more extended conversation, we request you set up an appointment in advance.

 

For immediate contact, attendance notifications, or larger concerns or questions, please call the Program Manager, Bernard Cook at (706) 340 – 8549 or e-mail him at bernard@wildintelligence.org.

If you need further assistance, please contact our Program Director, Sarah Hubbard, at sarah@wildintelligence.org or (706) 255-8937.

Please remember to keep phone calls to weekdays between 8 AM and 6 PM.

That’s all for now. We pour a lot of heart and soul into making our programs the best nature connection programs we can. We hope this information helps you prepare for the coming year!

We look forward to seeing you this fall!

 

Sincerely,

Sarah Hubbard, Program Director

Institute for Wild Intelligence

 

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