photo of the day (mountain men)

Each Tuesday morning, Nick and I drive up to Great Hollow Wilderness School in New Fairfield where he spends the day doing what kids are supposed to do but somehow do enough of: spend time outdoors, explore, learn, take a few risks, and get dirty. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention  (I’m paraphrasing Nick here:) chop stuff down and burn stuff.

These are the two men with whom I entrusted the care of my boy once a week over the course of the last few months. Just so you know, they don’t always look this pretty. On most Tuesday mornings, they look much cleaner. But this is the Wednesday morning after they took their Wilderness Skills class out into the woods for an overnight adventure.

This is Nick’s best friend, Zephyr. And this is what he looked like before I drove him to the train station (with great reservations on my part) to return home to Manhattan. I asked him if he planned on washing up before he got on the train and he informed me that he had and his hands were perfectly clean. Knowing Zephyr as I do, I knew that further argument would be futile. Although, looking back on it, I should have told him that people might find his “mountain man” look offensive rather than strange. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur to me until he was already on the train. Nor did the idea that a young man traveling on public transportation with an axe and possibly a machete (even if he did just come from a wilderness skills class in the woods where those implements are viewed as tools and not weapons) should probably not do all that much to call attention to himself. Luckily, he made it home without incident. I comforted myself with the fact that he was in NYC and people probably just thought he was homeless.

The biggest complaint the boys and Mckenzie (yes, there was one girl in the class) had about their overnight was that it was cold. They all slept in shelters they built during the day. Nick, Zephyr and Jack were in one shelter.  They managed to keep a fire going all night long by taking turns tending it but waking up every 15 minutes or so to check the fire cut seriously in on their sleep. I asked if they saw any animals during the night and Nick said that Mckenzie found a mouse. They heard something that might have been an owl or a coyote but they weren’t sure.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that a resource like Great Hollow exists and is available to the homeschool community. I can tell you that it is seriously under utilized. Nick has been attending classes at Great Hollow since we started our homeschooling journey about 3 years ago. Thanks to the guidance and support of people like Greg, Dan, Ethan, Broch, Melissa and Ananda, my son has learned archery skills, shelter building, how to use tools, fire building, orienteering, tracking and probably many more skills than even he realizes. My great hope is that these classes provide a balance to the enormous amount of time spent in front of a computer screen.

The sad thing is that the Regional Y is putting the property up for sale (have I mentioned this before?) They have run themselves into the ground financially and in their short-sightedness are putting Great Hollow on the market for what they hope will be a quick infusion of cash to put into their other programs (you know, the ones that aren’t as financially solvent as Great Hollow.) So, seriously, if you know someone who has a few million to put into saving this amazing resource, let me know. Preferably one who would be willing to let the programs continue as they are running now (or better yet, with improvements.) The upside is that there are deed restrictions on the property so it can’t be made developed into condos. The downside is that the way today’s economy is going, someone greedy enough is probably going to find a way around that.

We are told that our programs will be running through the fall. I’m hoping that they continue indefinitely until the property is sold. I know we are in for the long haul and will be there for as long as they’ll let us.

~ by photobella on 9 June, 2010.

2 Responses to “photo of the day (mountain men)”

  1. Great post. Just to clarify. I was told the YMCA has run themselves into the ground financially but the Great Hollow program itself turns a profit. But the Y wants fast cash of five million or so. So if some educational organization buys this property they could automatically have a profit-generating Great Hollow business to continue to run.

    • That’s pretty much what I heard, Christine. They admit that Great Hollow is not one of their programs operating at a deficit but if they can sell it, it will bring the greatest infusion of cash.

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