Week 9 – Trail Crew!

By Johannes Suppan

This week at Owl Woods we continued our adventures, practicing outdoors skills and engaging in some very practical team building activities. Our themes for the day were bridge construction, understanding the cardinal directions, and using our senses to find our way.

Once again, the weather was cool and damp.  Everyone geared up in boots, raincoats and rain pants and headed to the backyard to play a game. Small groups of children were asked to gather sticks to mark the four cardinal directions. Before too long, we had stick letters (N,S,E,W) constructed on the grass to make a giant compass. We talked about daily and seasonal patterns related to each direction: that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, birds fly south for winter, etc.  The children then followed our instructions, running and hopping back and forth, to and from each direction.

The Bridge Before

After all that running about, we shared the plans for the rest of the afternoon and divided into our groups.  One group headed to a bridge that needed to be repaired. They discussed careful use of hammers and nails, being aware of one’s surroundings and communicating with each other.

The group worked together to pull nails from and remove the old decking boards, lay the new planks down, and drill holes where the new nails would be set (to make pounding them in a bit easier.)  With varying degrees of adult assistance, everyone got a chance to take a nail out, use the power drill, and hammer some nails into the new bridge decking.  The children took turns with a variety of jobs, transporting old and new planks, and holding planks in place to help set the nails. It was fun for all of us to work together on this project and see real results!

Our construction crew.
Hammering in the new deck boards

The other group ventured to our rain shelter for some activities related to maps and wayfinding.   We talked about maps, their purpose, and reasons we might use them.  We then took a shot at making 3-D maps of Owl Woods. Some children were more engaged in this activity than others, constructing key elements of our space with sticks, leaves, pine cones, or simply by drawing in the dirt.  Eventually we worked as a team, constructing a tarp, zip line, and fire pit on mini scale.

We then tried out an activity called Caterpillar. Everyone wears a blindfold and holds on to the shoulders of the person in front of them. An adult leads the group for some distance, stopping at different trees and natural objects. The children used senses other than sight to try to picture and remember what natural objects they passed on their journey.  They then removed blind folds and had to try and find the stopping points they were led to, and to return to their starting point.

Our Caterpillar finding its way.

About mid way through, our groups traded places, providing everyone a chance with each activity.

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