Friday, June 30, 2017

They begged us to let them stay longer at our kids summer camp June 2017

As we sat around our closing circle, I had to hold back tears.  This happens every time after spending two days with the kids who attend our summer camp.  We get to know them, laugh with them,  watch them learn, bond with them, and when they tell us what they liked most about our summer camp, I lose it.

This time, there were a total of 15 kids (including our own three), and many of them expressed their appreciation about how nice everyone was, and how respected they felt.  Sigh.  This is what we aim for...

And then they begged us: "Can we stay here for one more week?"

(If you want to send your kids next year, you can get on our waiting list).

Also, I made a movie about this camp, and you should totally watch it after reading this post.

One of the reasons we only do this camp for two and a half days is because it's a lot of work, and it takes a lot of effort.  Steve and I do all the teaching, cooking, cleaning up, and supervising.  We love doing it all, and at the end of camp, we are tired.  

Our good friend Mike Brondi, an experienced youth educator who has worked for North Cascades National Park for decades, helped out for a day.  He is an extraordinary story teller and teacher, and we were glad to have him.

Let me show you some of the stuff that happened.

The kids showed up at our homestead Sunday at 5pm, in time for a little orientation around the farm, boffing with foam swords, harvesting stuff in the garden and dinner.  

Afterwards, we headed out into the forest for a treasure hunt, where kids sharpened their observation skills by finding natural things we hid for them: antlers, skulls, feathers, arrow heads.  They each got to keep one thing.  Sorry, dear parents, for sending  your kids home with deer skulls.

Since the day of their arrival was the hottest day of the year so far (97 degrees), we also fit in a dip in the creek.  The kids soon realized that our creeks and rivers are fed by glaciers, and that when you stay in too long, your extremeties go numb.  Did that keep them from swimming and having fun?  No.

Some years we hold the camp later in the year, when salmon spawn in the rivers, but June is too early for that.  Still, the good thing about June is that salmon berries are ripe.  The kids picked all the bushes in the vicinity of our camp clean.

When we got back, we gathered around the campfire, which Steve lit without a lighter but a friction fire, and told stories, while roasting marshmallows.

After one more foam sword fighting session close to dark, the kids went to sleep in the tipi, treehouse, or tent.

In the morning, we headed into the forest for primitive skills lessons, where the kids learned how to build a primitive shelter or debris hut, played awareness games, identified plants and wildlife, learned about the sacred order of survival, did a fire challenge, smeared mud and charcoal on themselves for camouflage and learned how to stalk.

Afterwards, we found another spot in the creek to jump in.

Home for lunch, and then I taught them how to make fermented bread.  The bread is always a huge hit.  When we eat it the next day, the kids go nuts for it.  I teach how to make it here, by the way.  

You're welcome.

Then they started making their own traditional long bows.  It's a lot of work, but, man, were these kids motivated!

After dinner (and more sword fighting), our son Luke showed everyone how to flint knap arrow points.  Later, Steve taught them how to make cordage out of natural fibers while the chickens strolled among the kids.

And of course, ice cream.  I was popular for that one.

Next morning, I taught the kids how to milk goats.  Everyone got to try it, and they all did well.  I wish I could hire them all to milk goats for me.  

After breakfast, the kids worked on their bows some more, and then got to practice archery.  You should have seen how proud they were shooting their own bows!  And they should be!

When the bread was done baking, we went to the river once more, where everyone fought over the bread, ate a huge picnic, and jumped into the creek again.  We saw an owl and wolf tracks.  It's never boring around here.

Our little fluffy dog Yoda was a hit.  People fought over him, and the whole duration of camp, he never lacked any attention for a split second.  In fact, he seemed relieved when everyone left.  Ahem.

I will leave you with an image of me and the youngest participant, who backed himself into a patch of nettles and cried bitterly.  Nettles hurt!  Fortunately, I knew just what to do.  After a hug, I grabbed a handful of plantain leaves and ripped them up in my blender with water.  I slathered the green stuff all over his poor legs, and right away, it took the sting out.  Then we pretended to be green aliens, so I needed green legs, too, of course.

PS: If you want to participate next year, you can get on our waiting list.


  1. Looks like these kids had the most wonderful time and the memories made will last a life time I'm sure. It's so good for them to connect with nature and get away from all the gadgets and devices. Getting covered in dirt and running in barefeet is what childhood should be about.

  2. Absolutely wonderful to see all the children discovering so many different experiences. It reflected in their smiles and expressions. I could see the wonder and fun in their eyes.From interacting with nature,goats,wilderness skills,the river and bread making. Loved this post!!!


  3. Awesome...I'm sure your big kids camp will be equally, if not more, successful!

    1. Hopefully! So far, only three people are signed up. We need more than that!


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