You’re in the bright green woods. You hear the rain dripping through the trees. A robin tweets in the distance. Looking up, a raindrop lands on your face. You can smell the sharp, clean bite in the air. Feeling energized, you hike back to the primitively made fire you and some friends made with your bowdrill. You grab your backpack, because today you’re tracking the deer that you saw eating grass in the meadow earlier at Wilderness Awareness School.
Wilderness Awareness School offers multiple programs for people of all ages. I go to Community School, which is a program where you go outside once a week for six hours and you learn about nature. It’s a survival school that teaches you skills that our ancestors had. We have a lot of fun in nature; it’s a refreshing change from regular life. At Wilderness Awareness you can just let go of whatever else is going on in your life and just relax and have a good time. You also learn to be aware of small details and you get more connected with the earth from going out to a spot of your choice to listen and watch what is around you. The Wilderness Awareness website says that “It is only in the last couple of hundred years that we have insulated ourselves from nature with things like buildings and cars and pavement. One unfortunate result of this separation is that our senses atrophy from lack of use. With no reason to pay attention to birds, we don’t even see them as they fly by. We don’t hear the deer or raccoon as they sneak away through the bushes. And we slowly grow deaf to our own intuition and instincts which guide and connect us to the world.”
As Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, said, “The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” And I think he is right. He also talks about nature deficit disorder which he describes as, "the human costs of alienation from nature, among them diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.”
Connection to nature is, and always has been, a huge part of my life. You know that feeling that you get once in awhile, like nothing can touch you. When you’re on the water, or in the woods and you feel like you’re a part of something, like everything and everyone is connected. I get that feeling more and more often the more time I spend outside.You don’t need to be part of a program, there are a lot of ways to connect with nature. There are great places to hike locally you can birdwatch, collect rocks, you can go to the beach, tend a garden, go camping and more!
What i really enjoy about Wilderness Awareness is that its a community of people and your safe be your utter wild self. The Wilderness Awareness instructors teach you all about plants, animals, how to build fires, how to make usable bow and arrows... and so many other things. I have been in Wilderness Awareness classes since I was six. I started out going once a month, when my mom had a baby in the house, and then finally started being able to go once a week. When I was six I would ask my mom every other day if it was time for WAS, because I loved it so much. As you grow older, the program gets more mature too, for example; you get to learn more, you play fewer games and you buckle down on getting your first coal. You get to go on more overnights and camping trips, as well as do larger projects, like building a woodshed.
Overall I think that Wilderness Awareness has been a great experience for me and I have learned skills that I probably wouldn’t have ever known if I hadn’t been in their programs. They offer homeschool programs, afterschool programs, weekend programs as well as summer camps. Classes are held throughout the eastside. So if you’re interested give them a call - or come to the spaghetti auction in March! There is also another wilderness program here in Woodinville called Quiet Heart. I have never tried it out. But I know a few people who have gone and liked it.
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