As we met in the Lost Lake parking lot for the Jumping Mice's latest outing, an exciting discovery in a nearby salal patch got everyone's blood pumping: garter snakes! Lots of them! The boys immediately tapped into their hunter's instincts and immersed themselves in stalking and catching every snake they could see.
To the untrained eye, the scene may have looked chaotic and disruptive: boys trampling plants and disturbing wildlife. But in Wild Whatcom, we see something else: focused engagement of body and mind, hands-on learning, kids motivated and inspired by the natural world. In other words, nature connection! Before we had even started our outing, the Jumping Mice showed us their ability to Be Here Now, and gave us mentors wonderful teachable moments about respecting and doing no harm to wildlife.
After putting the snakes back where we found them, we gathered for opening circle, introduced two joiners from other Explorers groups, and discussed our plan for the day. A ways up the trail we circled up to make a decision about how to proceed, and within moments were besieged by tons of gnats. Annoyed and distracted, the boys had strong opinions on which they didn't want to compromise: thus, they struggled to come to a consensus. Brian and I let them struggle, trusting the process to teach and trusting the boys to learn, but offered a few tidbits of guidance that helped them come to a decision.
Our next and final destination at the lookout point was, thankfully, bug-free. As we broke for lunch and some carving time, our motto Widen The Circle was in full display as your Explorers shared tools, materials, inspiration, stories, and time together.
After lunch we tasked the boys with building an earth shelter that would support a mentor’s weight. Some took to the task while others were distracted, and the shelter remained skeletal due to the lack of focus. So it goes!
While the boys took down the shelter, Brian set up his camp stove in order to introduce next year’s skill focuses: art of water and wilderness travel. They were inspired and excited to learn more, and we are inspired and excited to go on that journey with them. A quick game of Spider’s Web and a heartfelt circle of thanks closed out our day with teamwork and respectful listening, a welcome glimpse of the Jumping Mice’s growing maturity.