Rick's Journal

Monday, January 9, 2006

Winter Earth Skills Intensive

This past week, we started a new year, and a new Winter Earth Skills Intensive. This season, we are preparing students for a four day winter expedition where students will make their own snow shelters, build fires with woods gathered in the cold, make grass mats, and use snow shovels carved from basswood. We started our course with a 122 question Winter Earth Skills Comprehension Test, which definitely set the stage for the type of program we are leading, and it is really good. We are also drying meat (venison) to be used on the trek, over a fire, the traditional way. We are making braided rawhide rope, for hauling gear, firewood and many other camp uses, and practicing our outdoor cooking skills, such as rock boiling, using bark containers and spit cooking. More than anything, so far, it has been a lot of hard work and good learning happening too.

Personally, I love this time of year, because the weather can be amazingly warm, and nice to be out without a million layers, and the tracking has been excellent. The students are eager to learn everything they can about this time of year, and when we covered hazards and winter related first aid, we had a great time. I think there is a magic to knowing that you have to sleep out in a shelter you make, even in subzero temps (which we haven't had yet, in 2006 anyway), and that seems to motivate everyone to work just a little bit harder in practicing and getting crafts done so we will be ready for the campout.

I tasted some wild grapes that were still on the vine the other day, when the North Wind students were here, and they were really sweet and good, once you spit out the seeds. We had a lot of fun in that camp, especially roasting chestnuts on the fire, tracking all kinds of animals and the snowball fights.....

This is a busy time of year for me, actually, because there is a lot of planning, organizing and thinking about the coming year. I have been updating the website, as you can see, as well as working on an e-mail newsletter, which should be out shortly. I have way too much to do, but I still try to find the time to flesh the occasional deer hide, get myself out in the fresh snow, fill the birdfeeders, bring in some firewood and dream about summer!

My favorite basketball team, the Kings, aren't doing too well this season, and I have been thinking about why teams (like organizations) do well, and why they don't. I have been thinking about leadership, and all of the different styles and structures of organizations that enhance or detract from good leadership. I have been thinking about our mission here at Hawk Circle, and what I would say if I had to distill our work down to a one-line essence of Hawk Circle. Man, that is a lot of thinking!

It has been really fun working with Luke Gaillard, Barry Keegan, Ryan Smith and all of the other staff and students that helped us throughout the fall. We got an amazing amount of work done, good crafts and skills taught, and we had a lot of fun doing it too. I am so grateful to have Barry and Luke here full time, helping me move forward in so many projects and areas that have needed attention for a very long time.... I am finally getting some time to write, too, which is exciting. I will talk more about that when I get a few more chapters done!

More on our winter adventures, as well as our upcoming Ice Fishing trip on Indian Lake, in the Adirondacks, coming soon!