Into the wild

One summer a few years back, my family and I went to summer camp together. It was a wilderness survival program in the Woodstock Berkshires where seasoned woodsmen taught us city folks how to start a fire without matches, unearth food and potable water, construct a shelter out of branches and leaves, and carve spoons and bowls from sticks of Northern red cedar.
    This earthy experience was one of my most worthwhile summer vacations, and ever since I’ve wanted to return to this camp— and more importantly, have my kids return. If only it were closer to home. So I was thrilled when I learned recently of a new outdoor awareness school being created in this area by a husband/wife team who also follow in the tracks of nationally known wilderness expert Tom Brown Jr.
    Kate and Hub Knott have conducted outdoor education programs with children and adults for a number of years in places as diverse as the American Northwest and Northern Virginia. Their Living Earth School will soon be offering outdoor education in a unique mentoring style with workshops, home school programs, summer camps, and clubs. 
    In the mean time, the couple will present a tempting taste of some of their nature programs through a series of free workshops for both children and adults. The first of these is an Earth Skills Workshop at Ivy Creek Natural Area on March 30.
This four-hour session won’t give folks the consciousness-expanding experience of spending a week in a tent without running water, electricity, or cell phones. Still, participants ages 8 to adult can start to develop an awareness of all things natural, learn to move silently in the forest, and find out about the ABC’s of wilderness survival that might come in handy if they ever get lost in the woods.
    Other programs planned include a natural cordage-making workshop on April 6, in which participants use plant fibers to make rope, and a pine needle basket-weaving workshop on May 11. These activities take place at Ivy Creek Natural Area. Other opportunities, including a workshop on making fire with a bow-drill and a series of summer camps for kids, await confirmation of a location. Hub also hopes to start a tracking club with outdoor seekers who want to get together one weekend a month to find and follow wildlife trails.
    If you’re looking for a unique, informative, and totally wild time in the woods, my advice is to make tracks to Ivy Creek Natural Area to see the Living Earth School in action.
The Earth Skills Workshop takes place at Ivy Creek Natural Area on March 30 from 10am to 2pm. Geared for ages 8 to adult. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Free, but please register ahead of time. Earlysville Road (Rt. 743). 973-7772.     

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