Okay I could tell stories about this all day.
For example, yesterday I was picking my daughter up from an afterschool sport, cross country running. The teacher had that close call look on her face, and as a parent of a woodsy girl, I expected an interesting story. My daughter isn’t your usual athlete child, in fact this is her first stint into ‘sports’. What’s fun is that the area behind the school where they go running is the same forest that she has been camping in for 4 years. Once a month from September through June she goes on a nature connection adventure with my Coyote’s Path program. Each month is an overnight so she experiences the turn from late summer crickets to autumn fall colors to early winter snow to late winter freeze to early spring bird arrival culminating in late spring and early summer spring peepers.
Coyote’s Path is staffed with skilled mentors who really have a deep sense of how to bring children into the fullness of nature connection. The weekend is filled with skills, games, unique mentoring styles derived from indigenous cultures, songs, challenges, crafts and night time adventures that leave the eyes wide and the heart thumping.
My daughter is 12, I guess that makes some 30 or more deep experiences on that land alone. So there she is running through the woods and she gets separated from the group. She’s on a series of trails that she hasn’t been on due to the distance running affect. Without much thought she cuts off trail and intuits a path down through the landscape following the contours of the land and the flow of her instinct.
Down hill, into the notches, follow the water to the brook that leads to the bridge that leads to the trailhead…
She arrives at the trail head alone expecting the others to make their way as well. Because they were searching for her on the trails they couldn’t locate her, and didn’t consider that she would be confidant enough to make her way off trail. To signal the teacher and the other students of her whereabouts she grabbed an acorn cap off the ground and blew through her thumbs to produce a shrill piercing whistle.
The teacher and the rest found her with ease back at the starting point, happy and satisfied with herself.
When I asked her later if they heard her, she said “Oh yeah.” “How did you know how to do that?” I asked. “I just know those things, I’m always doing stuff like that” she said in a routine fashion.
As a mentor and leader of Regenerative Culture initiatives, I’m always listening and looking for clues to leaving this place better than I found it. In this case I see the result of nature connection mentoring over time from a young age. I see a baseline of confidence, freedom and resourcefulness. In times of stress or periods of unknown this will serve her well.
Another story came my way less than a week ago, again related to mentoring from Coyote’s Path. A parent emailed me and let me know that he was re-enrolling his two boys for this years season. He lives over an hour and a half away.
“Last year, in late August my boys were involved in a very stressful and scary wilderness experience. They went hiking in a forest unknown to them with their grandfather and about 1.5 miles in, he fell and broke his leg. With no phone reception, and no one knowing where they were, the boys had to hike out on their own and find help. While nervous, they stuck together, found help from a compassionate stranger and rescued my father-in-law by leading the rescue squad back to his location.
My wife and I do our best to instill confidence and resolve in them. But we attribute much of their ability to remain calm and focused in the woods, while being able to find their way out on an unblazed trail, to their Coyote’s Path experiences. “
Now that’s what I’m talking about.
The next post will be about how a former camper now combat veteran used his nature awareness training to save the lives of his team in Afghanistan.
(Please comment below if you like this and if you have your own stories about children, nature connection and resilience.)