Mountain to the Sea Wilderness Camp: Where Girls and Women Learn About Nature
As our bare feet slide through warm sand, Diana Totten and Aurora Studebaker take me on a short and simple version of their Mountain to the Sea Wilderness Camp. “Hold your arms out wide,” Totten says. “Look.” That stretch between your arms is where everyone should be looking, she says. Being aware of what occurs at the periphery of normal sight is the beginning of owl vision, a way of viewing the world that she and Studebaker will be teaching both girls and women at a series of camps this summer.Being barefoot is another thing that will be encouraged at the camps, Totten explains. It helps slow people down, she says. When she was a child, Totten remembers racing all over the woods at first scaring away all the wildlife. Her native grandmother told her to remove her shoes so she would slow down and not scare the animals. “It puts you in touch with the earth, too,” she explains.
As we walk, Studebaker slips her hand into bushes breaking off small sticks and gathering soft, dry vegetation. Both she and Totten point out small tracks–a lizard, a bird, a dog. Totten gathers raspberry leaves for a tea.
Then on the riverbar, Studebaker squats with a block of wood and a bow-like contraption that she uses to start fires.
She rubs the tip of a smooth t-shaped peg on her face to gather a little oil then folds small leaves between the peg and a hole in a wooden block. She sets a small stone under the block and begins to rotate the peg by “sawing” it with the cord of the “bow.” In just a minute or two, smoke begins to rise from the hole.
Soon the wood dust is smoldering. Last summer, she says, all the girls at their camp choose to start a fire without matches as a way to show their parents what they had learned.
She puffs air at the bundle.
As raspberry leaf tea brews in a small pot, the two talk about a grant they received from the Humboldt Area Foundation that allowed them to buy backpacks and other needed equipment for their camps. But, they say, they still need to raise more money. They have a fundraiser planned for May 14th. They plan to demonstrate fire building and have a tracker there to teach some basics. There will be a silent auction and live music. (See more here.) Everyone, Totten says, is welcome.
The Mountain to the Sea Wilderness Camp also has three camps scheduled for this summer. The poster below has details. Signup here.
Before we leave, Studebaker and Totten make sure the fire is out, the ashes covered with dirt and the rock ring taken apart. They want to leave no trace we’ve been there. But, they tell me, they hope to build a fire in the girls and women who come to their camp and leave a trace of the wilderness on their souls.