Before catching a ride aboard Moose, our trusty Explorers Club bus, we reviewed our three group commitments that we had set to improve our circle time, general focus, and group decision-making. First to encourage the heart by supporting other group members, being genuine and caring towards one another, helping peers when needed, and keeping each other’s goals in mind. Second, don’t waste anyone’s time (including your own) by taking advantage of what is offered during the outing and listening when needed. Lastly to be here now, which is an Explorers Club motto that demands staying present and mindful during outings and group focused work.
Arriving at Woodstock Farms the Salish Seals and Chickadees were already in full swing digging out English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. A mentor named Holly walked over to greet the group and asked the boys to review tool safety and tell her a little bit about their group. The STW squirreled out, lost their focus, and distracted each other in the circle. Calling attention to their three group commitments, a mentor reminded the boys to be here now and not to waste time on this service opportunity. The mentor also mentioned that the two other groups who were at the site were one to three years younger than the Short-Tailed Weasels, so it was important to demonstrate maturity and focus to set a strong example.
Refocusing, Holly gave the group their plan for the day and we got to work. The mentors were pleasantly surprised to see the Short-Tailed Weasels disperse and integrate with the other groups. Working side-by-side the Explorers carefully unraveled the English Ivy from the native Honeysuckle, Ocean Spray, Salal, and Snowberry. The project took persistence and patience, and while the Explorers hands were busy working, their conversations ambled and brought them closer together. Once the Ivy was untangled and clipped at ground level the next step was to dig it out of the shallow and rocky soil, which was no easy task. The Explorers switched back and forth between unearthing the Ivy and digging Blackberry roots while being careful not to clip the Bald Hip Roses as the two looked very similar without their spring foliage.
Stopping for some lunch the Short-Tailed Weasels circled up with the Salish Seals. Service outings are a wonderful time for Explorers Club groups to cross-pollinate. One of the mentors mentioned that he had found his nature name “dog”. This spurred on the Explorers curiosity and they asked to hear each other’s nature names. The Short-tailed Weasels mentioned that they did not know what a nature name was, which shocked the Salish Seals. They explained that a nature name is one that is chosen by the individual and reveals itself through experience, connection, personal awareness, and self-identity.
The Salish Seals shared their nature names with the boys and the group started to lose their focus. Recognizing the need to transition the mentors called for a strong finish to the day and the Explorers got back to work. As they worked the Explorers noticed buds and flowers beginning to pop all through the landscape. With the sun breaking through the clouds and the Spring Equinox only a few days behind us everyone was primed and ready for the seasonal transition in Whatcom County.
As the Salish Seals departed to have their closing meetings the Short-tailed Weasels were charged with finishing processing the Blackberry clippings and gathering up the tools. As they chopped Blackberry canes into the buckets their conversation wandered to Harry Potter and some dropped their tools altogether to follow their own interests such as sliding down the hand railing next to the site. The mentors had to engage in some direct leadership with the group and what should have taken fifteen minutes stretched on for over half an hour.
Circling up in the orchard near the site we shared a closing meeting together. The important part about having our group commitments is circling back to them at the end of the outing as an accountability tool. Self-assessing the Short-Tailed Weasels reflected that they had done a great job encouraging the heart while working with the two other groups, but wavered in their time management and ability to stay present on our outings focus of service. This self-assessment piece is a critical component in the group taking ownership of their outings and having a baseline to draw back on.
Sharing apples the Short-tailed Weasels expressed gratitude for all communities who are positively impacted by our service at Woodstock, for the opportunity to work with the GEC, and for the amazing landscape that we get to call home.
For more pictures please visit the Short-tailed Weasels’ photo album from the day of service. Thanks!