March 25, 2009

Outdoor Leadership and Survival Traps & Snares

Our last week before Spring break at the Wilderness Certification Program was kicked off with a visit from Hawkeye. He taught us how to regain control over a group of young people who do not want to cooperate. He emphasized that discipline is a last resort that should only be carried out if a trend of disrespectful behavior is observed. Some of the ways a good outdoor youth instructor stays in charge of a group are setting limits from day one, expecting the best from the students (and telling them that repeatedly), letting them learn through natural consequences, and, one that works on almost every kid... incentive. Once control is lost however, and it happens, there are a couple methods of regaining your leadership. Sometimes a time out at the peace tree is necessary, other times the silent treatment works, and a good lecture might not teach kids anything, but it will embarass and humble them a bit. Raising your voice was only recommended in a safety situation. We tell the kids at the OWLE program that we might yell their name really loud, but it is not personal, just a way to make sure the danger is eliminated.

Thursday we learned about primitive traps and hunting techniques. We learned about running snares, figure four deadfalls, and rabbit sticks. We each made our own deadfall and tested them on Dino, Jason's stuffed purple dinosaur. He was squashed many times by our deadly cedar logs. We went up to the Aplodontia metropolis on the east end of campus and set our traps, non-lethally. We put sand down underneath them to see any sign of Aplodontia running under them. Jase and I checked our snare and traps... and the figure fours were tripped! The snare, we believe came undone. The last part of the day was spent practicing throwing sticks at aluminum cans and stuffed octopi. A rabbit stick is the simplest primitive hunting weapon other than a rock, and it is a close range instrument. At 30 feet, it was tough to hit a non-moving stuffed animal, but with practice, I bet one could nail a rabbit or squirrel from 45 feet.

On Friday we had the podium at OWLE in Woodinville. We taught the group of 13 kids about natural cordage of the northwest native peoples. We showed them Dogbane, Stinging nettle, cattail, and cedar root cords. Then we taught them how to strip plants of their fibers and reverse wrap, double reverse wrap, and braiding methods of twisting cord. By the end of the day, each kid had tied up a feeder cone and wrapped a cedar smudge bundle with cattail leaf cord. We even made our own little paiute deadfall, which we tripped with a ziploc bag full of water and splashed a couple kids. The last part of the day was spent playing awareness games like "You're only safe if..." and a cougar stalking deer game. It was a great way to become a child again right before break.

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