Yesterday we started with one match fires since we had rain overnight. Skill and confidence levels have dramatically improved and everyone was either able to successfully start a fire or self-diagnose what went wrong. With our focus on the process, not the product, this is a complete success because they understood what was happening and what they needed to accomplish in order to be successful. It’s exciting to see.
We spent the remainder of the morning making saw frames for the bush bucksaw. Starting with only a saw blade and string, they crafted the other pieces and fit them together so that the whole thing is held together by pressure. It’s a great skill for teaching knife use as it incorporates a variety of carving techniques.
After lunch we spent an hour on sharpening knives, then we looked at some traps and discussed trapping for a half-hour. I explained my position that a trapper is a wildlife manager and that a good trapper is humane and cares deeply about the well-being of the animals, and demonstrates this care and respect by making good sets and killing quickly with little or no suffering by the animal. The students learned the mechanisms of both leg-hold and body gripping traps, and also about targeting specific species and even specific animals. I was able to dispel the inaccurate belief that leghold traps break legs or injure animals by explaining that I have released animals from leghold traps unharmed, and that doing so is a common occurrence for trappers when they catch a non-target animal.
When we put away the traps we went into the forest to press plants for the students’ rapidly expanding plant collections. Some of the species we identified were witch hazel, sphagnum moss, wood sorrel, goldthread, bunchberry and black ash.
When we were through for the day some of the students went for a paddle on Rust Pond and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
More photos have been added to the 2006 ESSP photo gallery, so check them out.