There's something about hands in motion that wields amazing power inside our minds. When our hands are engaged with a tool working wood there is no doubt about it; our demeanor is calmed, our head becomes clear, and our minds transition, almost without notice, into the creative right side of the brain. This is the point where working wood becomes powerful therapy in our lives and I actually believe that it makes us better people whenever we can enter that almost "magical" side of working wood.
When my students reach a level in woodshop class where they're more independent, I see this occur all the time as they're hands become a conduit in harmony with their mind as they carve, shave, shape, or mold the wood into beautiful objects. These students have intense focus and it's hard to distract them when they've entered the gates on the right side of their brain where anything is possible. When it happens I'm usually the only one who knows what is going on and I just grin with satisfaction because I know that kid has entered a special place and is at peace if only for a few minutes. They don't ask questions, they don't look up, and they don't hear any distractions. Their focus is intense yet they are simultaneously relaxed and peaceful.
I can only hope that they will continue on a path of woodworking throughout their lives, long after leaving my woodshop class because I'm convinced that working wood can be a strong catalyst for making us much better people in all that we do. I see it happen every day.
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.