Another one of my favorite stations at Conclave 2010 was fly tying. When I approached this activity the first thing that caught my attention wasn't the fly tying, but instead it was the intense focus of the participants. Unlike other stations that had more action involvement, the fly tying had these folks brains in full gear. It was a joy just to watch that focus between the eyes and hands as their small fly creations gradually transformed into works of art.
After several minutes I couldn't stand it any more and just when one of the instructors of the fly-tying wanna-be's invited me to take a seat and give it a try. That's all it took and I was off to doing something with my hands that I'd never before experienced and something that I hadn't planned to do.
I was a little skeptical at first and a bit hesitant, perhaps because I've always just picked up my flies and lures at the bait shop when I hit the lake or streams. And besides, I was completely absorbed with just watching the intense focus of the other participants. That was reward enough for me but now I had to shift my brain from observer to participant, from teacher to student.
My coach guided me step-by-step through the process and my eyes were so focused on the small hook clamped securely in the little vise. When you're tying a fly I learned about the intense concentration that is required to get it right so I had little opportunity to look my instructor in her eyes. Perhaps it was also just the "fumble and bumbe" that any new student has when learning to do something new with their hands. It was sort of awkward being in the students chair when I was more comfortable being the teacher so I had to make other adjustments too. After about 15 minutes of patient personal instruction I gleamed with pride after completing my first fly. I was so excited that I now didn't want to leave the station and I proudly walked around showing off my fly to other onlookers.
Now, I must admit that it's going to be another monumental task for me to pluck that fly from my hat because I just want to show it off. Perhaps I will make another one to actually go for the big one, but I have a feeling that this fly-made with my own hands- is going to be on that hat for a very long time.
Living in the mountains of North Carolina I have spent almost 30 very
rewarding years working with at-risk kids in a wilderness camping program as a counselor, outdoor educator, and woodshop teacher. To learn more about what my blog is all about, just scroll down this sidebar to "About my blog..."
1. Woodcarving/Woodwork: Working wood has been a lifetime obsession for me and I enjoy sharing what I know. It is my belief that hands-on and experiential learning has a direct and profound effect on the development of a child's intellect, confidence, and character. Projects of mine (and my students) will be posted as they progress and I will occasionally include a video tutorial. All of my videos can be found here .
2. Bushcraft/Primitive Living Skills: Finding ways to live closer to the land has always fascinated me. Whether it's building a shelter, fire starting, animal tracking, or just making rustic furniture... you'll eventually see some of it here.
3. Long Distance backpacking, canoeing, & bicycling: Some of my long distance adventures include thru-hiking the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada and I solo paddled the 1,800 mile Yukon river across northwest Canada and Alaska to the Bering sea. More detailed accounts of these and many other adventures can be found here
4. Sustainable Living: I'm always looking for better ways to do more by using less. It's not so much an "environmental" thing to me as it is a quest for personal independence from material things and finding a path to more substantive living .
5. Scouting Activity: As a scoutmaster of 6 years (and currently assistant scoutmaster) I'm actively involved with the troop and "Order of the Arrow" where it is a joy to volunteer hundreds of hours each year because investing in the next generation insures a better tomorrow for everyone. In an era when most schools don't value hands-on learning, outdoor education, and the arts... scouting soars in meeting these critical experiences for boys.
6. Profiles: Behind everyone's success you can usually find a trail of some very significant mentors and teachers along the way. And sometimes you don't completely understand how someone affected your life for the better until many years later. You'll find some of those stories here.