Welcome, everyone, to the challenges of the first day of the first ever Unschool Adventures Adventure Semester! Today, the challenge for my group of four plus an instructor was to travel from our campsite near Paonia to the North Fork Gunnison River, cross it, and get back to camp without being seen by anyone. After our instructor had explained our goal, she told us that we could and should set smaller goals to complete along the way, in addition to our original challenge, so my group decided to also try and pet two domesticated animals before returning. After a little more discussion, we set up a signal (tongue clicking) to alert everyone if we needed to hide, and decided to use a scout line system: one person scouting ahead, one as “point” to find a path, two in the “body” watching our sides, and a tail checking that no one was behind us.
By the end of the day, we’d accomplished neither of our original objectives. Instead, after realizing that we didn’t have the time to make it all the way to the river and back, we made our goal to go unnoticed by the four other groups. In that, for the most part, we succeeded! Most of our day was spent around a meadow below our camp, and while we didn’t cross the river, we did find a stream that we crossed twice. Once, we managed to cross over a bridge without being spotted, and the second time, we waded through. Luckily for us, the water was a little warmer than melted ice.
As for hiding from the other groups, we managed three encounters out of four. Two were encountered, spotted, and hidden from multiple times in our dearly beloved Tech Barn, the only place up here with wifi. Another, avoided from a large distance at the camp garden. That same group, however, we later failed to hide from. We saw them on a nearby path first, but they came up the hill before I could get somewhere with good cover. Even then, while hiding from someone is a great satisfaction – the glow of knowing something that someone else does not, like when playing a prank – being found is simply hilarious. We were encountered with rather incredible deer-in-the-headlights expressions, before the other group left without a word.
Our challenge was a lot of fun, for all of us. By the end of the day, while we’d dropped our roles from the beginning, we’d begun to work as a team almost without thinking. We could smoothly communicate our ideas for routes, often using only hand signals and sparse whispers. We could easily improvise paths and amend our plans, to the point that even though we’d dropped our goals, no one felt they hadn’t accomplished something worth the effort. In the end, the real fun was in the travel. Our path itself became a challenge, which we met with tactics like climbing over fences for alternate routes, crawling on our hands and knees, or even belly crawling, so that we could move without being detected. The whole trip took around three and a half to four hours, and I loved all of it.
Good luck to everyone doing this in the future!