Friday, July 20, 2018

How to get kids off their electronic devices - and adults, too!

There was a moment of panic at this year's homesteading and wilderness summer camp.  I had just gathered a group of kids to milk the goat when we heard a blood-curdling shriek. 

The noise continued, and after our shock we realized it was a coyote.  The sound came from very close by, which was a problem because after milking we were supposed to head to the creek with ten kids their parents had entrusted to our care.

So after milking the goats, we locked them up (the goats, not the children) and headed off into the forest.

After all, we live in the wilderness, and this summer camp was supposed to teach the kids about wilderness skills, and one of them is this: wild animals live around us, and most of the time, they leave you alone and are scared of you.

Do you want to head into the woods with us to see how our summer camp went?

What are you waiting for?  Come on!  Come on!

As always, our two days of summer camp were filled to the brim with learning, fun and food.  

Some of the kids' favorite things were practicing camouflage and playing wilderness awareness games involving hiding, covering each other with moss and ferns, and painting themselves with charcoal and mud.

We taught them how to build primitive shelter in the woods, and the sacred order of survival (what do you need to focus on in most survival situations in terms of shelter, water, fire, food).

This year's summer camp happened in the middle of an intense heat wave, which was perfect, since we have several creeks and rivers to jump into.

And jump into the icy cold water they did!  I could not believe how much these children got into it! I'm a wimp when it comes to cold water, but the young'uns jumped and swam and splashed and dove to their hearts' content.  It was a joy to watch their exuberance, pride and smiles stretched from ear to ear.

Actually, I teared up several times.  This is why we do these camps: to show kids what it's like to be away from their electronic devices, so they can do what kids are supposed to do.

Apart from being in the woods, the kids spent time in the shop making their very own traditional wooden long bows.

As usual, some kids were more into it than others, depending on attention span, grit and age, but a bunch of them cranked out some nice bows.

And the ones who weren't into it did other stuff instead, like rough-housing on the trampoline, chasing each other, playing various games in the yard, or snuggling with the dog(s).

In fact, I apologize for the parents whose kids fell in love with our canines and now are relentlessly whining about wanting a dog.  Truly, I am sorry. 

Other learning activities at our camp included milking the goat and making fabulous bread.

It always astonishes me how two loaves of bread vanish in about three and a half minutes when I bring it to the creek for lunch on the second day.

For the parents who are wondering about the recipe, I teach the whole thing in my online fermentation course.  

Ask your kids: this bread is fabulous, and so, so easy to make.  No kneading needed. (Did you catch that word play? What a clever little non-native English speaker I am, eh?)

What else can I tell you about these two days?

Steve and I are tired.  This is a labor of love, and lots of work.

Every year, once it gets dark and the kids are still yapping and laughing in the tipi or the tents, and all I want to do is go to sleep, I think to myself, "Why in the world are we doing these camps every year?"  But once the kids settle down, and all that's awake are the stars and the frogs and the occasional coyote, and I remember all their laughing faces, I know why we do this.

The kids need this time outdoors.  Do you know that inmates in a maximum security prison get more outdoor time than your average kid nowadays?

I don't know about you, but that breaks my heart.

If you want to be part of next year's summer camp, get on our wait list below:

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