The Beginning of a Family Wilderness Adventure

Written in 2012 by one of the participants of the 2012/13 Family Wilderness Guide Program:

The lake wears a new face each morning.dscn8102

Neon pink and lavender kissing the mist rising from the water, or the bowl of the lake capped by a rippling, iron gray sky, ten thousand cloudscapes. I used to take hundreds of pictures of the sky, trying to preserve each stunning, sensual instant, and I was so busy taking pictures I had no time to see. The the lines of the overhanging branches of a cedar, a pine, and a wave-worn log frame the swim area, for all the world like a landscaped natural picture window.

I will never see this face of the lake again, and I treasure the gift as I treasure the loss.

“High definition reality,” Marcus calls it.

“I’m stealing that,” I tell him.

The camp is waking up.

We’re crazy.

Twenty-five adults, seventeen kids, three generations, four languages, and all our different beliefs, opinions, biases, experiences, triggers, wounds, living in the woods together for eleven moons. There is only one explanation: We’re all insane.

It’s amazing and fantastic and terP1080054rifying and uncomfortable.

We sit around the fire cracking nuts and roasting eggs. A mother translates her delicate toddler’s exuberant outbursts, like closed captioning for the Swedish impaired. Her little girl plays chase with one of the boys and she scrambles over mom, screaming in one part hysteria, one part triumph.

A few of the boys are playing something they call “Dungeons and Dragons,” and I have no idea if it means the same thing to them as it does to me. We have no dice, no books, and not much paper. I smile to myself as I overhear a five-year-old from my tent, “And I told him I was a god and he didn’t want to fight me anymore.”

In our ranks we boast three people who know Thai massage, three who know myofascial release, a smattering of energy workers, and a lot of people who just know how to give with their hands. Almost every sun there’s one or two peofyl4ple in the quiet, sunny spots by the wigwams giving and receiving some kind of massage.

Everyone is basking in novelty and gratitude as the whole camp comes together to help
level ground and erect tents and tarps. This is the honeymoon phase, when everyone loves each other and I wonder what it will be like when all our idiosyncrasies and habits start to snag each other like thorns.

But this is the Now. I decide to enjoy it while I can.

Teaching Drum Outdoor School is currently accepting applications for the 2016/2017 Family Wilderness Guide Program and the Guardian Way. Both programs are 11 month immersion experiences living in the wilds of the Northwoods and promise to be  a life changing adventure for anyone willing to take on the challenge of living close to earth in a balanced way with others. Everyone is welcome.  Both program begin May 1st, 2016. There is an online forum for prospective participants to learn more about these programs and what they entail. This e-group is free and open to anyone who is interested in the Family Wilderness Guide Program or the Guardian Way. To learn more, check out the links in the sidebar, or email