Autumn Activities

Autumn

“When the hunting moon of October first appears, it is big and orange and full of strange excitement.  Then it is at its best; later it pales, but those first few moments are moments of glory.”

-Runes of the North, 41

“The leaves are gone from the hillsides, and the glory of the red maple and of the yellow aspen and birch is strewn upon the ground.  Only in the protected swamp, is there any color, the smoky gold of the tamaracks.  A week ago those trees were yellow, but now they are dusty and tarnished.  These are days of quietly falling needles when after each breath of wind the air is smoky with their drift.”

-The Singing Wilderness, 171-172

Autumn Activity Ideas

-Share some of Olson’s many writings on hunting and fishing with other outdoor enthusiasts or members of your Hunter Safety class.

-Find a quiet spot where you can spend several hours alone with the moon rise.  Keep track of what you see, hear and think about.

-Use paint chips or crayons to recreate the palate of color you find on the forest floor.

Add outdoor activity ideas of your own design:

­__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Lessons:

Campfire
Mapping
Walking
Soundscapes
Hey, What’s in Your Pack?

Activity: Campfire

Key Quotes:
“Something happens to a man when he sits before a fire.  Strange stirrings take place within him, and a light comes into his eyes which was not there before.  An open flame suddenly changes his environment to one of adventure and romance.  Even an indoor fireplace has this effect, though its owner is protected by four walls and the assurance that, should the fire go out, his thermostat will keep him warm.  No matter where an open fire happens to be, in the city apartment, a primitive cabin, or deep in the wilderness, it weaves its spell.”

“Campfires” in The Singing Wilderness, Sigurd F. Olson, 106-107

“My whole life has been a series of campfires”

The Wilderness World of Sigurd F. Olson, video

“In years of roaming the wilds, my campfires seem like glowing beads in a long chain of experience.  Some of the beads glow more than others, and when I blow on them ever so softly, they burst into flame.  When that happens, I recapture the scenes themselves, pick them out of the almost forgotten limbo of the past and make them live.”

“Campfires” in The Singing Wilderness, Sigurd F. Olson, 109

Objectives:
The participants will be able to:
1.) Demonstrate or explain campfire safety steps from starting to extinguishing.
2.) Articulate an appreciation for the various moods of a campfire.

Background:
Begin with an overview of the history of wildfire in your region.  Discuss the history of human use of fire and brainstorm a list of ideas on how fire is used in our modern world, heating, entertainment, travel, cooking, etc.  Find a place where students can practice the skills of fire building and fire starting.  Use flint-n-steel, bow drill or wooden matches (2 per person).

Flint-n-steel sets and instructions are available from Track of the Wolf at www.trackofthewolf.com or 18308 Joplin St. NW, Elk River, MN. 55330-1773.

Procedures:
Find a safe place where your group can practice staring campfires.  When they have the skill pretty well in hand, challenge them to compete with each other in building a fire that will burn a hemp or cotton string, suspended 15”-18” above the ground.  This can be really fun with several teams competing at once and using flint-n-steel.  It does however require close supervision and a well stocked first aid kit is always a good idea.

After the excitement of a fire building competition, move on to a more contemplative and celebratory evening campfire.  Combine stories from your research on fire with other locally appropriate stories.  After one or several successful evening campfires, try the same event with one or several candles instead.  Try just moonlight or starlight!

Related Essays:
-Read sections from Scorched Earth, by Rocky Barker
-Read “Odyssey” in A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
-Read “Woodstove” in Quite Magic, by Sam Cook
-Read “Firewood” in Chips from a Wilderness Log, by Calvin Rutstrum

Additional Activities:
-Write an essay describing the scenes around the evening campfire from the perspective of the fire.
-Tour a fire site with a wild-land fire fighter.
-Take wild-land firefighter training.
-Have participants draw their favorite stage of a campfire.
-Expose your group to Leave No Trace camping techniques—especially “Minimize Use and Impact of Fires”
-Build a mound fire. Explain why this is a valuable skill.
-Share what you have learned about fire with another group.

Evaluation:
-Have participants compare and contrast an evening around a campfire with an evening around a candle.
-Have participants teach appropriate fire building and use to another group.

Participant Journal Page                    Date __________

Activity: Campfire

Location:
Time:
Temperature:
Wind Speed and Direction (Use the Beaufort Scale):
Cloud Cover:

Other Observations:


Activity:  Mapping

Key Quote: “Shortly after graduation, I was offered a position to teach agriculture and related sciences in the high school of a small mining town in northeastern Minnesota with the Indian name of Nashwauk.  Using a map I discovered it was on the Mesabi Iron Range, completely surrounded by a maze of blue with no roads or settlements beyond.  The first look was enough, for those spots of blue were lakes, and the wilderness around them conjured up visions that filled me with anticipation.”

Open Horizons, 66

Objectives:
Participants will be able to:
1.) Describe how to use maps.
2.) Create a map for others to use.
3.) Design a map that reveals important personal directions from the past, present, and future.

Background:
It is worth considering that while Map Quest and OnStar help us to get around they keep us from finding our way and knowing our place.  Maps give us more than directions; they can give our life direction.  My canoe partner is fond of saying, “My compass points north.”  I have another friend who painted the cardinal direction right on his living room floor.  Like Olson, my friends are keen to pursue adventure and have some plan for the direction of their life.  All three like to know the shortest distance to the blank spot on the map, as this is where adventures begin.  Anticipation of the adventure and the excitement that accompanies it begins with the map itself.

No matter how detailed the way, the distance between two known locations can be full of mystery, wonder and adventure.  Collect a variety of maps for your students to examine and then set off on some of your own outdoor mapping adventures.

Procedures:
Divide students into small groups of 3 or 4, provide clipboards and copies of the “Participant Journal Page” and ask groups to design a couple of maps based on the suggestions below.  Feel free to create your own mapping challenges.  Remember all maps usually have a Map Symbol Key, an orientation (usually North), a scale for distance, and a title.
-Map bird nests and animal homes in the study area.
-Map wind direction around buildings.
-Map the shade from trees at different times of the day.
-Map the comings and goings of people, vehicles, and critters.
-Create a map to a specific destination that will be used by another group.

Relate Essays:
-Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez-see maps on page 288.
-Mapmaking with Children by David Sobel-provides valuable insight to how young people approach map making.

Additional Activities:
-Draw a map of your favorite childhood places.
-Draw a map showing changes in your childhood places.  Describe the changes and your feelings about those changes.
-Observe, monitor and map a beaver pond.  Note the changes in the pond and surrounding landscape over the course of a month-a summer.  Document your map with photos, sketches, recordings, or video.
-Take your family on a geo-caching adventure.

Evaluation:
-Explain how you use maps in your everyday life.  (Are lists similar to maps?  What about calendars and appointment books?)
-Discuss how maps can be viewed as art.
-Have students share and compare their approaches to mapping
Participant Journal Page                Date _________

Activity:  Mapping

Location:
Time:
Temperature:
Wind Speed and Direction (Use the Beaufort Scale):
Cloud Cover:

Other Observations:
-Create one or several maps corresponding to the aspects of this activity that you participated in.

Activity: Walking

Key Quote:
“Walking returns the body to its original limits […] to something supple, sensitive, and vulnerable, but walking itself extends into the world […] The path is an extension of walking, the places set aside for walking are monuments to that pursuit, and walking is a mode of making the world as well as being in it.  Thus the walking body can be traced in the places it has made; paths, parks and sidewalks are traces of the acting out of imagination and desire; walking sticks, shoes, maps, canteens and backpacks are further material results of that desire.  Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.”

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust, 29

Objectives:
The participants will be able to:
1.) Discuss the physical, intellectual, and economic values of walking.
2.) Describe their experience from several long walks.

Background:
Earth Educator Steve Van Mater has for years pointed out the fact that we don’t know much about nature because we are in it less and less.  He notes we move from one interior space to another throughout our entire day—In the house, the car, the elevator, the office etc.  The nifty thing about walking in today’s world is that it promotes a healthy lifestyle and it can be done outside!  Thoreau noted that even a few hours of walking can take you to places seldom visited and still full of wonder and adventure.  In Wanderlust, Rebecca Solnit writes, “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about 3 miles per hour.  If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.”  To walk is to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us.  Short or long, it is an opportunity to get some exercise, to awaken our senses and reacquaint us with our neighborhoods and local landscapes.

Procedures:
Give students advanced notice that for one class period you will all go for a walk.  Ask them how they think they should prepare for this class i.e.  sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, wind breaker, comfortable shoes, water, snack and a small backpack or fanny pack.  On the designated day, go for a walk!  Go for distance, go for fun, visit local historical, natural, or cultural sites or just stop occasionally to share quotes, ideas, or thoughts.  Keep your group together and obey safe walking procedures—visible clothes and walking on the correct side of roads when sidewalks are not available.

Related Essays:
-“The Portage” in Listening Point by Sigurd F. Olson
-“Skyline Trail” in The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson
-“Ancient Trails” in Of Time and Place by Sigurd F. Olson

Additional Activities:
Challenge participants to discover:
-How far can you walk in an hour?
-How far can you walk in a morning or an entire day?
-Have participants research the hiking exploits of Bob Marshall and other notable or contemporary walkers.
-Can you walk 100 miles in a month? (In addition to regular walking)

Evaluation:
-Have participants explain how their community is set up to either encourage or discourage walking.
-Allow participants to compare ideas or journal pages generated during their walks.
-How can walking be incorporated into the school curriculum beyond the physical education curriculum?
Participant Journal Page                    Date __________

Activity: Walking

Location:
Time:
Temperature:
Wind Speed and Direction (Use the Beaufort Scale):
Cloud Cover:

Other Observations:
-List ideas that occurred to you during your walk.
-How many different environments did you pass through on your walk?
-List wildlife or signs of wildlife encountered on your walk.

Activity: Soundscapes: Investigating the Sounds that Surround

Key Quote:
“I named this place Listening Point because only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard.  Everyone has a listening point somewhere.  It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but someplace of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe.”

Sigurd F. Olson, Listening Point, 8

Objectives:
The participants will be able to:
1.) Create a map of noise/sounds found in their study location.
2.) Describe the value of silence in their life.
3.) Describe the importance of being able to sit quietly and listen for an extended period.

Background:
Increasingly the sounds of civilization are intruding into every nook and cranny of the continent.  Some researchers go so far as to say you can no longer record pure natural sound in the lower 48 states.  Our personal lives and space are simultaneously being invaded by sounds from many unnatural sources including the ubiquitous ipods and cell phones.  The pace of modern life and its cacophony of sound are increasingly filling all the spaces and places in our lives.  Taking a moment to really listen—to be surrounded by natural sounds and an earth wise pace of life can be relaxing and peaceful while also providing time and space for much needed personal reflection.

Procedures:
Visit a nearby natural area and sit quietly for one half hour.  After the first 15 minutes, use your journal page to map the sounds that surround you.  Identify those sounds to the extent possible and try to indicate the distance from your location.
-Did any of the sounds move closer during your stay?
-Repeat at night, if possible, and then compare the quantity and type of sounds.
-Repeat at sunrise, if possible.
-How many of the sounds heard were human caused?  How many were natural?

Related Essays:
-Read “Far Horizons” in Listening Point by Sigurd F. Olson
-Find a quiet space to ponder Olson’s ideas and musings found in “Landscape of the Universe” in his book Open Horizons.
-See also Wild Soundscapes, Discovering the Voice of the Natural World by Bernie Krause, 2002.

Additional Activities:
-Read Sigurd F. Olson’s essay “The Whistle” found in his book, Listening Point.  After several listening opportunities, discuss Olson’s reaction to the whistle and explore your own reactions to the variety of sounds heard and their meanings for you.
-Look into “Seton Watching” and describe how this activity came to be! Try it!

Evaluation:
-Have participants made more room in their lives for silence?
-Have participants become better listeners?
-What have participants learned by sitting quietly and listening?

Participant Journal Page                    Date __________

Activity: Soundscapes: Investigating the Sounds that Surround

Location:
Time:
Temperature:
Wind Speed and Direction (Use the Beaufort Scale):
Cloud Cover:

Other Observations:


Activity:  What’s in Your Pack? An investigation of what we should have with us when we leave home

Key Quote:
“Living happily [and safely] in the out-of-doors means getting down to the basic essentials. The man who goes in with all of the claptrap necessary to give him a semi-civilized existence in the wilderness is defeating at once the very purpose for which he went in.”

Spirit of the North: The Quotable Sigurd F. Olson, pg, 52, Edited by David Backes

Objectives:
Students will be able to:
1)  Put together an emergency bag or kit for all kinds of travel.
2)  Describe what it means to be prepared.
3) Pack appropriately for a day in the field.

Background:

I learned early on that there are 3 aspects to every outdoor experience: pre-trip planning, the trip itself and then reflection on the trip. Many of us seem to be in a hurry to get to the trip and consequently we miss some critical steps in trip preparation. In addition to gear selection, you should consider meal planning, physical conditioning and medical considerations to name a few. This activity introduces the participant to the 14 or so essentials that everyone should carry in their car and on an afternoon walk in a local park or longer romps in the backcountry.  In the outdoor field you will often hear the phrase, “Proper prior trip planning prevents poor performance!”  And the Leave No Trace mantra of “Plan ahead and Prepare” makes for excellent background reading for this activity.

Procedures:
Pick a day in late fall or early spring and invite your students to bring a backpack or daypack with all the things they might need for a complete day of hiking in the forest. They could also work in teams if you could bring a pile of thirty or so items and have them pick the 10-14 most essential. This activity is largely borrowed from the LNT activity guide “Plan Ahead and Prepare” and “The Mountaineer’s 10 essentials list.” There are some survival experts who never go anywhere without some form of the 10 essentials.

Related Essays:
-Leave No Trace booklets and website: www. lnt.org
-Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit
-The Mountaineer’s List of 10 Essentials (now 14): http://www.backpacking.net/ten-essl.html

Additional Activities:
-Put together an emergency bag for your car!
-Once students have honed their outfit to the essentials, plan to take a long hike and have them test out their preparations

Evaluation:
-Have students compare their preparations and explain why they selected a particular group of items.
-Create an imaginary scenario where students can seen how well prepared their selections have made them. For example, a wind change during the day brings rain, sleet, snow, and a temperature drop of 40 degrees. Are they going to be comfortable? Are they prepared?

Participant Journal Page                                Date:_________________

Activity:   Hey, what’s in your Pack? An Investigation of what we should have with us when we leave home.

Location:
Time:
Temperature:
Wind Speed and Direction (Use the Beaufort Scale):
Cloud Cover:

Other Observations: