A Week in the Woods

After an extraordinary week of bonding and adventure with our founding students, we all feel keenly how lucky we are to begin the year this way. It's hard to imagine going straight into class the first day, without all the friendships, stories, rituals and fond memories that the whole class now shares. We have deep gratitude for the four expert guides from Back to Earth who led the trip, guiding us to reflect on both the natural world and the rapidly evolving inner worlds of each student. Eli Marienthal, one of those guides, described the trip beautifully:

"So what did you do with the kids?"

We played games, threw frisbees, twirled sticks, kicked balls. We swam in the river, and harvested mud from its banks to make bowls and amulets. We beaded necklaces for ourselves and as gifts for our loved ones. We harvested food from the farm, and then cooked it and served it. We gathered medicine herbs from the forest, and made a different tea every night: mugwort, elderberry, lemon balm, raspberry, nettles. We told stories, sang songs, about sacred people, the elements, interconnected reality, love. We played capture the flag in fierce fields of thistle. We bushwhacked through redwoods, carved paths in the undergrowth. Found deer and skunk and raccoon and coyote tracks, caught tree frogs, followed bird song. We meditated, stretched, gave thanks, blessed food, held hands, made circles. We watercolored and color penciled. We did gymnastics on sand dunes and raced the wild surf. We wandered the beach, made mandalas of seaweed, wrote poems about driftwood and sea glass and the ocean. We huddled in the wind, shared our poems aloud. We met mindfulness wizards, walked blindfolded and barefoot. We whittled, shot arrows, made sun prints. We set up tents, shade structures, clotheslines, fences. We chopped wood, gathered kindling, built fires from friction in mosaics of stone. We performed for each other, songs and skits and magic tricks. We screamed and howled and laughed til it hurt. We ran ourselves ragged. We got quiet, so quiet. We did ceremony, accepted the call, stepped over the threshold, received our journals, got smudged in the fire, took another step forward. We stayed up late whispering, talked justice and peace and race and gender and crushes and food and college and jokes on jokes on jokes.

This was these kids' first week of middle school. This is how Millennium School begins its journey. 

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