All Wawenock Campers love and benefit from the beautiful, natural setting here and many show great interest in learning more about it. The primary goal of the Outdoor Living Skills (OLS) program is to help girls connect to the natural world in a meaningful way. This is achieved as they spend time becoming aware of and appreciating what is happening all around them. With time, they grow in comfort and confidence in the outdoor environment. Comfort begins with a familiarity of place and knowledge of surrounding sights and sounds but it also comes from a self-assuredness that is built on skills. (Skills like pitching tents, cooking on campfires, and navigating with or without a compass.) The OLS program at Wawenock offers girls a broad array of experiences which help teach many practical outdoor-related adventure, teamwork and camping skills, as well as introduce them to the wonderful diversity of life that Wawenock’s pristine acreage sustains.
A typical season in OLS might include classes in: campfire building and cooking, compass work, orienteering and mapping, basic tracking, geology, outdoor emergency response and first aid, knot tying and practical rope use, bird habitat study and bird house building, hiking, overnight camping, tree and other flora identification, lake water and/or vernal pool study, plus aspects of broader sustainability and land stewardship/preservation concepts and techniques; such as erosion control initiatives, trail maintenance, etc. Campers may also engage in catch and release study of insects, amphibians, fish and other small creatures commonly found on the property.
For most campers a group overnight camping experience is a wonderful culmination to the OLS season – and a chance to put new or refined skills to the test! For some who are ready, the opportunity to plan and undertake a ‘solo’ overnight in a tent or self-constructed bivouac is a challenge that adds new dimensions to the adventure. In either case, campers learn about and then undertake the preparation for their overnight trip, including: low-trace camping techniques, equipment and menu planning, safe food preparation and storage, management of trash and other waste, etc. Naturally, star-gazing and playing games or telling stories around a campfire while making s’mores or baking banana ‘boats’ are always an important part of any group’s overnight experience!
In these ways, generations of Wawenock girls have developed a better understanding of the natural world and how they can enjoy safely and confidently moving within it. Along with it they have gained a much deeper appreciation for this exquisite setting – one which holds a lasting and special place in their hearts.