Learning Story – Taking Care of Ourselves

The Week of October 25, 2022

What happened? 

This morning, in our opening circle, we asked the group what they thought we should be thankful for today. “The land!” was one of the first responses. We had such a beautiful day of exploring our land and harvests that we received from the land. 

Today the land at our site looked much different from last week. There was snow on the ground, yet it was very mild and the wind was low – this opened up an opportunity for our Bushkids to ease into the question of “how do we take care of ourselves?” We had to swap out wet mittens for dry ones, kept taking off our jackets in the wall tent to avoid sweating, and a few socks needed to be dried after much fun playing in the snow. 

We were gifted eight muskrats that were freshly harvested this weekend by Bushkids co-founder Chloe and her partner Rob, and a beautiful big trout that educator Noni caught this month. What beautiful gifts from our land! The muskrats were skinned and the hides were pinned and stretched into stretchers. We boiled the muskrats over the outdoor fire and so many Bushkids loved trying muskrat for the first time or enjoying it as a familiar taste. The trout was a fun inquiry for another group of Bushkids – our group loves fish so much! The fish was filleted then cut into chunks and breaded before being fried over the fire. Some Bushkids helped to spread the word to everyone when the fish was ready to be eaten. 

Hide and seek was popular again today. Hiding in the snow is much different from hiding in the brown and green land that we had the last few sessions. Discussions surfaced about camouflage and how it works and what makes camouflaging different when the white snow arrives. 

At the end of the day at closing circle we read a book about muskrats, a traditional legend about how the land was formed with muskrat’s tiny paws carrying mud and dirt from the bottom of the lake.

Why is all of this meaningful? 

Investigating was a big part of our day at Bushkids. Investigating our relationship with ourselves and how we can keep our bodies comfortable in the cooler weather and also while in the very warm wall tents. There were a couple of foods harvested from the land and the muskrats were new to some Bushkids. Those that tried it were eager to have a new meat in their bellies and the Bushkids that didn’t want to try were very respectful of everyone’s choice to eat this new meat. 

While the muskrats were being skinned and cleaned for eating the Bushkids investigated safe hunting practices and why we try to shoot animals in the head rather than the belly or the back or the legs. We investigated the long tails of the muskrats, the tiny wee paws and claws attached. The diaphragm muscle was a curious inquiry for some Bushkids, learning about what that muscle does and how it attaches to the ribs and sternum and ultimately how we have those same structures in our human bodies but they look a little different because we walk on two legs. 

The trout was a beautiful investigation – how can we tell it’s a trout and not a whitefish? Trout doesn’t have scales! They have beautiful skin with spots. The bones from the spine and ribs of the fish were so easy to see after removing the fillets. Our Bushkids are so comfortable around fish being cleaned and prepared, they like to see inside the mouth and examine the eyes and all of the guts that are removed. 

Investigating the land was a big part of our day as well. There were areas with more snow than others, where some Bushkids went with a big sled to harvest as much snow as they could fit into the sled. They wanted to make snowballs but it ended up turning into a big fun pile of snow to play in. There was a rope maze made inside of an area of the trees called “Don’t touch the ropes!”. So much play happened that there was no more snow on the ground, they had worn it all away.

What does this mean for next time? 

For next session we are going on a bus to visit educator Donovan’s camp along highway #3. Donovan traps and hunts regularly and we hope to deepen our investigation of animals we can harvest from the land; how do we harvest them respectfully, how do we use all parts of the animals we harvest, how do we cook them? 

This new camp will also invite our Bushkids to learn about this new place and how we can safely play and explore the area. 

There is so much more snow on the ground than there was on Tuesday – this will bring up new and fun ways to play in that snow and how to take care of ourselves and each other. 

The Bushkids are used to story-telling, they listen to stories that are shared around our fire circles and we would love them to think of a story they can share while we are on the bus ride to Donovan’s camp. The story can be of a time they went on a bus or a road trip or maybe a story about camping in a new place. We hope they will all share their stories while we are driving back and forth on Tuesday.