One of the most unique and transformative experiences during an Outdoor Academy semester is a three-day work trade at Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center. It’s an especially powerful event because it is a trade of skills and services. For half of their time, OA students break into work crews to help maintain and improve the Buffalo Cove campus. For the other half, members of the Buffalo Cove faculty introduce OA students to primitive camping skills and a most memorable meal.
It’s amazing how much work 30 committed people can accomplish in a short period! During Semester 46’s excursion to Buffalo Cove, one of the work crews hauled logs out of the woods and used draw knives to strip the bark. Soon these logs will become the rafters on a barn that’s under construction. Another work crew worked along the road and trails, cleaning out drainage ditches and clearing blow-downs. The third crew hauled HUGE logs out of the woods, which were then turned into a game called Jedi X, an epic game involving balance and hitting a swinging ball.
Following work crews, our students gathered for a conversation with Nathan, the owner of Buffalo Cove, whose association with OA dates back to Semester 1 and whose daughter is an OA alum (Semester 44). The topic of our conversation was something we think about a great deal at OA: where does our food, especially our meat in this case, come from? After the discussion, Nathan demonstrated how to humanely slaughter some rabbits and then taught the students how to skin and field dress them. The rabbits then stewed all afternoon while students chose if they wanted to learn about primitive shelter building or how to blend in and move stealthily through the woods. Afterwards, we shared a meal of rabbit stew, reflecting on the intense experience of watching where our meat came from and giving thanks for the animals that were nourishing us.
On our final morning at Buffalo Cove, students chose from classes on how to build wet-wood fires, make primitive traps, and create fire by friction. All the students came back feeling excited and empowered about the skills they learned.
Another successful trip in the woods!
-Brian Quarrier, Outdoor Education Manager