The group hiked back into the forest for about ten minutes until they found a desirable place for an opening meeting. With only seven Explorers present handing out jobs was a breeze and the boys worked well together to come up with a plan for the day. The mentors were anxious to teach the group the advanced skill of fire by friction and had purposefully picked the outing location due to the semi recent logging that occurred and the opportunity to harvest off of its timber piles.
Walking through the logging land the boys said they felt like they were in Mordor from Lord of the Rings and marveled at the massive piles of cedar, maple, alder, and Douglas fir. The mentors told the boys to be on the lookout for a piece of seasoned cedar and Red Alder that was small enough to cut with a pack saw. This was also a great time for the boys to learn how to harvest Cedar bark from downed trees and stumps. The mentors
We carful navigated the log piles which were slippery due the misty precipitation falling from the sky; it seemed to saturate and permeate everything including us! We soggily carried the resources to the forest edge while tracking this problematic landscape. The group found a wealth of invasive species which seemed to cover the entire landscape, not to mention the ground water run off that flowed brown with the mixture of mud and topsoil.
What could we learn from this? First to recognize that our society needs to harvest some wood to build infrastructure, but in applying our mottos slow is fast and fast slow and all things are connected understand that we need to do so much differently and with much more thought and consideration. Turning the problem of logging into a sustainable possibility lies with our future generations ability to help influence and change these practices as a caring and aware community.
It was at this moment that the mentor had a revelation! Rather than persuading the boys to all work on fire by friction kits, allowing them to follow their own method in fire making would give them the focus and motivation to learn. Just like the BEC staff has preferred methods for making fire, so do the boys. It is our role to support and nourish those passions as mentors.
Holding to our commitment to have a sit spot we walked up the trail to the location where we held our opening meeting and spread out. Circling up after our solo time we went around the circle and shared our thanks and stated our intention to pursue a preferred method of making fire.
The Branch Hoppers have really been performing these last few outings. After five year in the program they have hit their stride as a group. They are working collaboratively and making an effort to including one another. Furthermore, they are vocalizing an internalized ethic for the natural environment that seems to contrast with their understanding and accepting of our impact and resource needs as humans. Our hope for the Branch Hopper is that this internal struggle will empower them to become stewards of the natural environmental and community members that will be better equipped to examine our current resource needs and the challenges that lie ahead with the tools awareness, balance, humility, knowledge of place and connection, and environmental and social justice.
For more pictures from our outing please visit the Branch Hoppers’ photo album from the day. Thanks!