CAMP LEOPOLD – The bus that arrived the morning of October 14 carried a group of young men who would remain engaged and inquisitive the entire day.
On scholarship from VLS Recovery, boys from Generations Group walked into Chace Lodge eager to absorb every single bit of knowledge the SCWA education staff would provide.
Generations Group is a non-profit based in the Upstate of South Carolina. Its mission “is to prevent sexual abuse by helping neglected and/or at-risk adolescent and pre-adolescent males overcome abusive behaviors.” The young men attending Camp Leopold live at the Generations facility full-time; many will soon be leaving the facility and returning home.
For security reasons, no photos that identified the young men were taken. Instead, the SCWA Communications Director, accompanied the group during their walk through the woods. The goal was to document some of the things a typical group could expect to see during a session at Camp Leopold. Here are the highlights:
Obviously. It was a walk through the woods after all. What was interesting wasn’t the fact that trees were around but the perspective the instructors offered when it came to looking at the trees. Unless you live in a place like NYC, you’re probably going to see a tree at some point during the day. What you might not see is the way that tree is interacting with other plants – how it’s fighting for sunlight, providing food for turkeys, or acting as a territory marker for deer. You probably don’t notice the tilt of the branches or the shape of the leaves but those things are important when you’re trying to identify the tree species, or the tree’s health. When you’re surrounded by trees (eg: a walk in the woods) it’s much more difficult to not notice the unique characteristics of each plant.
SIGNS OF ANIMAL LIFE
It’s possible you’ll see a paw print from your neighbor’s dog on the sidewalk if the ground is wet from rain but when you take a walk through the woods with a Camp Leopold instructor you start to notice signs of animal life. You start to wonder how recently the raccoon walked across the path or why the bird chose that exact tree to build their nest.
MOSS, FUNGI, ETC.
While taking a walk through the woods, things that might be considered gross or annoying on a city sidewalk suddenly tell part of an ongoing story. The growth of fungi on a fallen tree trunk tells you if the soil is remaining moist from recent storms. Mushrooms or plants that require roots in the ground provide nutrition for invasive species such as wild hogs. Spanish Moss, which isn’t actually a moss but a flowering plant, defies what you learned in school about plants needing soil to grow.
A walk through the woods at Camp Leopold is nature’s version of story-time. Instructors and nature are co-storytellers. You might not sit crisscross-applesauce on a multi-colored carpet, but you’re still drawn in by the characters, the plot, and the pictures. No two stories (walks) are ever the same.
The SCWA Camp Leopold team greatly appreciates the scholarship offering by VLS Recovery. We look forward to Generations Group’s next trip to Camp.