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Ancestral Skills Adventure

 

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Where were you when the first spark of life ignited?…that spark that evolved from a single to multi-cell organism, from vertebrate to fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal to human to YOU?  Can you remember your deepest ancestral past?…can you remember the ancient tribes of wandering humans ~ the mothers and fathers of the peoples that became us all? Can you imagine the peoples and creatures that roamed the ancient forests where your school or home now lies?

Over millions of years, from deep in the jungles of Africa, our ancestors journeyed outward for thousands of miles, in separate directions, migrating far and wide across the diverse regions of Earth.   And from this, they created the countless colors, languages, worldviews, and lifestyles we express in our world today.  We’ve come from rock and stick, to bow and arrow, to guns and steel, to the complex tools of today.  But we’ve forgotten our origins.  Ancestral Skills help us begin to remember…

Ancestral Skills are the rapidly disappearing, survival-based arts of our past.  They are the indigenous crafts and pre-industrial technologies derived directly from Nature.   Skills like gathering and using native plants for food and fiber, basketry, pot making, shelter construction, and fire making don’t just keep us alive and well in the wilderness.  They reach deep into the ancient memories in our hearts and touch a shared place that is universal.  They remind us that Ancestral Skills are not only about knowledge and technique.  They are also about a deep connection to land, to self, and to the myriad living beings that we rely on with our lives.

Our Ancestral Skills Camp is a four day immersion training in the old ways.  As students join together on the land, they become villagers, tribe, and community.  Far from home, they must now rely on one another; they must teach; they must learn; they must honor one another.   Divided into clans of the four directions, student groups take on necessary duties that support the whole.   Each will be challenged to learn real skills, to trust their classmates, and to meet their personal fears with courage.  In the process, they will go on an interactive history lesson through the trials, tribulations, and endless travels of our wandering human ancestors.

 

Ancestral Skills Camp
ARRIVAL DAYGroup A (up to 15 students)Group B (up to 15 students)
5:00 - 6:00pmArrive, settle into dormArrive, settle into dorm
6:00 - 7:00pmDinnerDinner
7:00 - 8:15pm GroupIntroduction to Local Indigenous Culture, Ancestral Skills, Ceremony, and ClansIntroduction to Local Indigenous Culture, Ancestral Skills, Ceremony, and ClansIntroduction: Students will be introduced to the schedule and spirit of the adventure they are about to embark upon. Topics to cover in this introduction include the breadth and scope of ancestral skills, the purpose of ritual and ceremony, and the power of forming smaller groups, called "clans" (based on animal guides and the four directions) to handle necessary village tasks. There are no specific periods of service in this educational adventure. However, each clan will take on a significant service-oriented role, from kitchen help to ceremony design to cleaning village spaces and more.
8:15pm-9:30pmStories from the Deep PastStories from the Deep PastDo you ever dream of your deep, ancestral past? What peoples and animals roamed through the ancient forests where your school or home now lies? In this course, we draw from evolutionary biology, anthropology, archaeology, geology, and indigenous studies to tell a vivid story of the trials, tribulations, and endless travels of our human ancestors. As a group, we reenact over a dozen key moments in our human evolution, from the shifting of the continents to dawn of tribal social culture, to the discovery of fire, the invention of tools, and the advent of agriculture. Our bodies, hearts, and minds engage in a visceral experience of our strange and humble beginnings ~ from one celled organisms all the way to our complex lives today ~ and set the conceptual context and emotional tone for the adventure that is to follow in the coming days.
9:30 PMRest and Quiet TimeRest and Quiet Time
Day 1 - Ancestral SkillsGroup A (up to 15 students)Group B (up to 15 students)
7:15 - 8:00amNature Exploration (optional)Nature Exploration (optional)NATURE EXPLORATION: On the first morning, we guide youth on an exploration through our 88 acre nature sanctuary. This early morning session is a perfect time to learn the songs of the dozens of local birds, to harvest local edible and medicinal plants, and hear about the ecological history and former Native American inhabitants of the land.
8:00 - 8:45amBreakfastBreakfast
8:45 - 9:30am GroupMorning CircleMorning CircleMorning Circle: Morning Circle is a time to come together to introduce the day, sing an opening son, connect in small groups (clans), and share in a blessing. On the first morning, we give ample time for clans to meet and plan their creative ways to serve the village over the next few days.
9:30 - 12:15pm SessionThe Birth of Fire: Fire Without a Match (A111)Moving like the Forest: Tracking and Camofluage (A110)Moving like the Forest: Tracking & Camouflage (A110). How does a forest move? How do it's creatures move? Until we listen closely to the Earth and watch the animals move, we will always be out of our element in the forest. In this course, we learn to move like the forest, smell like the forest, look like the forest, and listen with our whole body as we move through the undergrowth. In the process, we will learn the shapes, sizes and movement patterns of various creatures that call the forest home.
12:30 - 2:00pmLUNCH and free timeLUNCH and free time
2:00 - 2:30pm GroupAfternoon CircleAfternoon CircleAfternoon Circle: Afternoon Circle is a time to pause and reconnect in small groups (clans), sing a song, or play a quick group game, before going into the next adventure.
2:30 - 5:00pm SessionMoving like the Forest: Tracking and Camofluage (A110)The Birth of Fire: Fire Without a Match (A111)The Birth of Fire: Fire Without a Match (A111). Human cultures have a long and powerful history with fire, creating stories and myths that explain and symbolize this sacred partnership. We will first verbally explore the power of this unique element and then participate in its creation. Students will gather fire making materials directly from the forest and create "fire-sets" with which they can work to create friction fire with their own two hands. With focus and determination, anyone can call forth the spirit of fire. Creating fire without a match is a liberating and empowering experience that is never forgotten.
5:00 - 6:00pm GroupDesigning the EarthShelter (A113)Designing the EarthShelter (A113)Designing the EarthShelter (A113). With guidance from a skilled mentor, each clan begins to design and gather materials for their individual primitive shelters. These are small lean-tos that are built wholly by hand with found, natural materials.
6:00 - 7:30pmDinner and free timeDinner and free time
7:30 - 8:45pm GroupEarthSounds (P150)EarthSounds (P150)EARTHSOUNDS (P150). A communal fire circle of ancient melodies, earth rhythms, and stories of the deep past; a participatory celebration of voice and movement in our beautiful meadow.
9:00 PMBack in dorm for the nightBack in dorm for the night
Day 2 - Ancestral SkillsGroup A (up to 15 students)Group B (up to 15 students)
7:15 - 8:00amMagic in the Forest: Finding a "Sit spot" (E118) OR keep working on your shelter.Magic in the Forest: Finding a "Sit spot" (E118) OR keep working on your shelter.Magic in the Forest: Finding a "Sit spot" (E118): On the second morning, we guide youth on an exploration through our 88 acre nature sanctuary. Each student finds a spot in the forest that speaks to them, and marks it for future return visits. This will be their "Sit Spot", visited periodically for the duration of the camp, where they witness the magic, beauty, and intricacy of the natural world.
8:00 - 9:00amBreakfastBreakfast
9:00 - 9:45am GroupMorning CircleMorning CircleMorning Circle: Morning Circle is a time to come together to introduce the day, connect in small groups (clans), and share in a blessing.
9:45 - 12:15pm SessionFinding the Medicine Within: Medicine Walk and Vision Quest (A151)The Colors of the Earth: Painting with Natural Pigment (A112)The Colors of the Earth: Painting with Natural Pigment (A112). With such easy access to a vast variety of pigments made from exotic or unnatural materials, or generated by computers, most people take color for granted. What are natural sources for color that humans have harvested and processed for millennia? How can we still use the precious pigment they offer? In this course, students create their own pigments from rock and use the colors created to paint their own earth-pictures on paper, wood, or other natural materials.
12:30 - 2:00pmLUNCH and free timeLUNCH and free time
2:00 - 2:30pm GroupAfternoon CircleAfternoon CircleAfternoon Circle: Afternoon Circle is a time to pause and reconnect in small groups (clans), sing a song, or play a quick group game, before going into the next adventure.
2:30 - 5:00pm SessionThe Colors of the Earth: Painting with Natural Pigment (A112)Finding the Medicine Within: Medicine Walk and Vision Quest (A151)Finding the Medicine Within: Medicine Walk & Vision Quest (A151). Within each of us are all the answers that we need to steer the ship of our lives. In each present moment, we make important decision and choices, whether we are aware of it or not. All too often, we forget to stop and listen for the wisdom within. Guided by the example and presence of Nature, and given the opportunity to be alone with ourselves, we can return from the a vision quest with answers to our questions, direction for our future, and a greater sense of interconnection to our environment. Students will begin this session together, setting intention for the journey, and then venture out alone, only to return to share the inner harvest of their adventure.
5:00 - 6:00pm GroupEarthShelter (A113)(continued)EarthShelter (A113)(continued)EarthShelter (A113)(continued): With guidance from a skilled mentor, each clan finishes their individual primitive shelters, built wholly by hand with found, natural materials.
6:00 - 7:30pmDinner and free timeDinner and free time
7:30 - 8:45pm GroupDancing With Our Ancestors (P151)Dancing With Our Ancestors (P151)Dancing With Our Ancestors (P151). Anytime we listen closely, we can hear and feel our ancestors supporting us. We are only here today because hundreds and hundreds of people have walked this path before us. As we dance together we invoke the support of those who have come before us, and in the process, discover our authentic expressions in movement (while having a blast with our friends). Inspired by Ecstatic Dance, Eurythmy, 5 Rythyms, and more, students are guided on a creative, celebratory journey through a unique soundtrack of live and recorded music.
9:00 PMBack in dorm for the nightBack in dorm for the night
Day 3 - Ancestral SkillsGroup A (up to 15 students)Group B (up to 15 students)
7:15 - 8:00amMagic in the Forest: Knowing your "Sit spot" (E118) OR finishing your shelterMagic in the Forest: Knowing your "Sit spot" (E118) OR finishing your shelterMagic in the Forest: Knowing your "Sit spot" (E118): On the first morning, we guided youth on an exploration through our 88 acre nature sanctuary, and on the second morning establish a special place for each person. This morning, we invite the students to return to this spot to deepen their experience of that specific natural place. Amazingly, they find countless happenings, busy populations of mysterious living things, going about their daily business. This can become inspiration for theatre, poems, or a Coming of Age ritual on the final, powerful day.
8:00 - 9:00amBreakfastBreakfast
9:00 - 9:45am GroupMorning CircleMorning Circle
9:45 - 12:15pm SessionThe Ancient Art of Weaving: Cordage and Basketry (A115)Natural Abundance: Wild Foods and WildCrafting (A114)Natural Abundance: Wild Foods & WildCrafting (A114). How has the human diet changed over time? Why do we eat the foods we do today? Wild animals don't grow garden patches; they thrive amidst a jungle of natural, wild foods. The vast majority of wild plants are edible at some stage in their growth, with only a few being poisonous or harmful to the human body. Students will learn to identify many native, edible plants and taste-test their edibility, palatability, and take the best to include in our daily meals.
12:30 - 2:00pmLUNCH and free timeLUNCH and free timeStudents bring their sleeping stuff out to their primitive shelters.
2:00 - 2:30pm GroupAfternoon CircleAfternoon CircleAfternoon Circle: Afternoon Circle is a time to pause and reconnect in small groups (clans), sing a song, or play a quick group game, before going into the next adventure.
2:30 - 5:00pm SessionNatural Abundance: Wild Foods and WildCrafting (A114)The Ancient Art of Weaving: Cordage and Basketry (A115)The Ancient Art of Weaving: Cordage & Basketry (A115). For thousands of years, peoples have been using a wide variety of plant fibers to weave together rope, string, clothes, baskets, and more. In this course, we will identify, harvest, and process plant fibers from the environment and then learn the techniques to patiently guide these materials into useful forms. Students will get to keep what they've created, and replicate more projects back at their schools.
5:00 - 6:00pm GroupRites and Ceremony (A150)Rites and Ceremony (A150)Rites and Ceremony (A150). What does it mean to "come of age"? What are rites of passage and what are they for? Just as seasons change through a year, humans develop through natural stages of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. Yet, in our culture today, important life transitions often go un-acknowledged and un-honored, and in turn, we can live without guidance in our roles and and belonging in our families and communities.
6:00 - 7:30pmDinner and free timeDinner and free time
7:30 - 8:45pm GroupComing of Age ceremonyComing of Age ceremonyComing of Age Ceremony: This culminating experience will mark a rite of passage for participants into the next stage of their development. The ceremony offers an opportunity for them to step into their true potential as unique individuals who have a special gift to give back to their communities. Are you ready to give your gift? Are you ready to come out of your cocoon, walk your authentic path, and meet the challenges of the day?
9:00 - 10:00pm GroupJourney Through the Darkness (A152)Journey Through the Darkness (A152)Journey through the Darkness (A152). The ceremony has arisen strong intentions from deep within each student, and for the group as a whole. This journey through the dark tests their committment to themselves and their trust of their clan. After the ceremony, each clan gathers to reflect briefly on their experience and then prepare for their journey through dark. Clans pick one leader who guide them, while the rest dawn blindfolds and link hand-to-hand behind him/her. Together, they journey out into the forest in silence to meet any fears they might have of the unknown (w/ an emergency light). With each other's help, they each find the shelter they each made in the forest, and immerse themselves in the night.
10:00 PMSleeping Close to the Earth (optional)Sleeping Close to the Earth (optional)Sleeping close to the Earth: Sleeping close to the Earth, in structure made by hand, matures the intentions students set in their coming of age ceremony. Naturally, students reflect on the people and communities in their life that means the most to them, and become clear on how they want to meet the responsibilities and challenges that lie ahead. The leader of each clan is responsible for bringing their clan members home safe. They carry an emergency light, a watch with an alarm, and a radio that can reach a counselor. They must check on their clan members at least once in the middle of the night, and then again in the morning to rouse them and bring them back to the lodge for breakfast in the morning.
Day 4 - HEADING HOMEGroup A (up to 15 students)Group B (up to 15 students)
8:00 - 8:45amBreakfastBreakfast
9:00 - 10:00am GroupThe Way of CouncilThe Way of CouncilThe Way of Council: This is a ceremonial sharing circle for students to reflect on what is alive and true in the moment. Students are encouraged to listen into themselves and to say just what needs to be said, to let go of their individuals inclinations to speak or to be quiet, and to simply let the power of the shared moment speak through them. Naturally, students will reflect on powerful moments from the previous days and call in powerful visions for our collective future.
10:00 - 10:30amPack upPack up
10:45 AMSee you next time!See you next time!