Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carving on the Trail

For the second time in a week I was fortunate enough to help lead a group of 8 kids on the 4.5 mile Stone Mountain loop trail at Stone Mountain State Park in the beautiful northwest North Carolina. The hike is listed as "strenuous" and it's the kind of trail that you want to run as much energy out of the kids as you can. That way they get to sleep on time and sleep hard that night... and that's very important in the life of a child.

We found a secret lunch spot back off the trail a bit that is like something out of Middle Earth with short rock caverns and a sweet rock crevice that the kids can follow around in a fun to explore maze. It's almost a magical place and we love introducing the kids to it about half way through the hike. This is also the spot where we have our first opportunity to do a little carving on the wood found along the trail.

Today Chief Davie, another counselor on the hike, was working on a spoon that he's been carving on carefully just a little bit at a time for a month now. I continued my tradition of carving a very simple woodspirit in found wood to give to a total stranger as a random act of kindness. This is always a great opportunity to teach the kids a good lesson about selfless giving and by choosing a total stranger the life lesson is magnified X 10.

After lunch I found a 6 or 7 year old boy swimming in the cool pool of water at the base of the 200 foot waterfall along the trail. He was thrilled when I offered him my woodspirit stick but he didn't immediately take time to study the carving since most of his attention at the moment was to create as many waves as possible. That's what little kids do.

Our students were full with energy today and we got done with the hike early so we decided to spend about a half hour at the trail head for another carving period as we drank our cola drinks and snacks. In addition to Chief Davie I had 4 of the kids join me for a lesson on how to carve the woodspirit face in the dead found wood they had picked up along the way. During this period I also had time to carve two more woodspirit faces and the kids had a good time too.

My lesson in selflessness paid huge dividends today when at the end of the carving period I set my woodspirits up to be easily found by a stranger on the park bench in the parking area. One of our students, Taylor then had a great idea and asked me if he could personally present them to two elderly ladies who were chatting on a nearby bench. I gave permission and he politely presented them to the ladies. These two ladies were even more thrilled than the children that I had chosen randomly before. These two ladies held them in the air for a close inspection admiring the art and making sure that Taylor received the due respect that he deserved.

Some of our successes today included completing a strenuous 4.5 mile mountain hike, observing and discussing wildlife observations of crawdads, a water snake, frogs, hawks, etc. but my biggest success of the day was when Taylor took the lead and offered his own hand in a random act of kindness. These kind of life lessons are just as important to success as reading, writing , and arithmetic but teaching values seems to be almost forgotten in today's classrooms. We will all sleep well tonight!


  1. Dude! Those lessons are just too cool for school man. Well done!!! You are a real inspiration Dave. With you helping these kids I'm sure they'll all make our world a lot better.

  2. Thank's for the encouragement Chuck. I try to sneak in some form of character lesson into every class that I teach. Kids need it now more than ever.

  3. dude i remmber that day didnt u give the wood spirits a couple of older ladeys

  4. Yep! That was the hike and we made the day for those two ladies. That was a great hike!