We never did see the top of the Douglas Fir…or of several other old growth trees. It’s not that they’re so tall the tops aren’t visible; rather, the canopy blocks your view of the treetops, and of the sky, for that matter, to a large extent.
We were able to take some measurements that will give you a sense of the size of that particular tree, though. We had a 25’ tape measure which made it MOST of the way around the fir’s base. So we added an Explorer’s 5+ foot wingspan and were able to touch. We estimated the tree’s girth at 29.5’! For you football fans, that’s 6” short of a first down! Know someone who’s 6’ tall? Lay 5 of that person end to end and you can wrap her/him/them around the tree (please don’t try this at home…).
|Circumference - 29.5', divided by 3.14 (pi) = 9.4' diameter|
I tried to engage the math fans in the group to estimate the tree’s height but I was competing against something more elemental, something visceral. They mostly wanted to climb onto fallen logs (some of which were much taller, on their sides, than the tallest among us, 6’ tall mentor Adam). A few of these Explorers have been known to modify popular children’s songs with math-related lyrics, their interest is so strong, but the one Explorer I could entice to measure the tree was clearly drawn to his peer’s log climbing while stretched around the fir.
|We didn't measure the diameter on this behemoth, but....|
|The preferred route...to wherever|
|That's the kind of attention for which we're striving!|
Adam and I observed an interesting phenomenon related to two structured activities we offered the Explorers: an ecology quiz and an ecological scavenger hunt. The boys did well on the quiz, which required recall of science material from school. They were somewhat less authentic in their approach to the scavenger hunt, however. We asked them to search, in pairs, for examples of a single organism, a photosynthetic autotroph, evidence of plant disease or insect damage, and more (5 items from a list of about 25). They mostly were stationary and again used recall rather than walking around to observe. My challenge with subsequent groups at this unique place is to better bridge the intellectual and experiential!
Well, that outing marks the end of the Cave Dwellers’ 2017-18 year. The boys have coalesced into a high-functioning cohort as we hope all groups will. Next year, we stretch their edges further with higher level skills and more physically demanding outings. Have a great summer…see you in the fall.