...Continued from here...
When Sarah informed me I would be able to conduct my summer research at Oxbow Farm, I was over the moon! She then explained I would need to attend the volunteer training day at Wilderness Awareness School (WAS, pronounced 'wahz') to prepare for summer camp. Oxbow and WAS developed a partnership using Oxbow's land and the farm as a summer camp site teaching about food and farming, while also applying WAS' principles. I had never heard of wilderness school, let alone knew that such a place existed essentially in my backyard!
I packed my Camelbak, laced up my hiking boots, layered on the rain gear and plugged WAS' address into my GPS and made my way through the winding roads of the back hills of Duvall. The drive was gorgeous and I arrived at a haven in the woods with kids running around playing games and a beautiful cabin where everyone was gathering. I was enthralled from the moment I arrived - with the location and the longer I was there, with the people involved with WAS. All of the kids were going to be volunteers at summer camps in the area and every single one of them had participated in WAS programs. They were independent, engaged, aware of their surroundings in a way I had never seen kids of their age before and enthralled with being outside on the land.
It was the first time I encountered Emily Gibson and I was so impressed with her quiet leadership, instruction and connectedness to the earth. She has been a wonderful support to my research and truly encouraged my own journey of reconnecting with the earth.
We, more like I, learned the games we would use at the camps, gained an understanding of our responsibilities as volunteers, engaged in role playing some possibly difficult scenarios and played some incredible games. I was so impressed in one of the games how unfathomably well these kids were able to hide from me!
WAS is not for kids alone, but also has incredible programs for adults, as well as some at-home starter programs. I have been very seriously investigating this as the next step in my journey and enrolling in the Anake Program next year or sometime in the future. While my project has morphed and is more food focused at this point in time, I still passionately believe in the wilderness model of learning and engaging kids and adults with the earth and nature.
Wilderness Awareness School is an amazing place and the people I have met through this program have introduced me to so many wonderful things and I have made some tremendous friends along the way. Even larger is the impact they have had on altering the path I hope to start following in the future.
If you are not ready for the full commitment of outdoor wilderness school, you might check out WAS' wonderful at-home study program - Kamana. You can begin reconnecting with nature and the outdoors in your own backyard or outdoor areas wherever you live.