This spring at two participating ECO schools, Moretown Elementary and East Montpelier Elementary, we decided to "branch out" and leave the safety of our warm and worn base camps. What does the local landscape have to offer a group of traveling students? We found the prompt we needed to select and carve our walking sticks.
Children searched the forest eagerly for their very own walking sticks. Height, thickness, strength, and weight were all serious considerations. How long should it be? Just shoulder height. How thick should it be? Well,...it shouldn't be too heavy to carry! How strong should it be? As strong as your journeying spirit will take you. Interestingly enough, all the children chose sticks that in one way or another really represented themselves. Slight yet strong, curvy, gnarled and full of detail, dense and strong. All of them beautiful.
We used various tools to help craft our walking sticks. Saws for cutting. Whittling peelers for adding fine detail. A shave horse and draw knife to take off bark and bring the wood grain to life. A drill for holes to make a decorative lanyard. Some children even added a few finishing touches with paint. The students were incredibly focused on and dedicated to their walking sticks. So much that they immediately wanted to take them home. Their teachers promised, on the last day of school, they could. Hooray!
|Using a shave horse and draw knife|
|On the Road|
|Staying together is safe and FUN!|
Children used their sticks to poke mud puddles, climb over fallen trees, carry their snacks slung over their shoulders and draw pictures in the dirt. Our dedicated teacher team brought along Green-Up Day bags and we picked up garbage on the last leg of the journey. Leaving Vermont green for all to see.
Two hours later we were back at East Montpelier Elementary with plans for our next ECO outing. We might gather wild leeks for soup or head into a neighbors forest in search of vernal pools. What stories will our walking sticks have to tell?
|Passing through a cornfield|
|Can't go around it, can't go under it, gotta go through it!|
|Good conversation on the trail.|