I hope this message finds you all happy and healthy. I want to add another exercise to what you can do with your kids to get them away from the TV’s, video games, mindless texting and emailing. I love one of the exercises that Grandfather had Rick and me do at least every two months or so. I simply call it the Treasure Hunt. The way Grandfather taught us was straight forward. What he would do when we weren’t paying attention to him was to push a stick into the ground as a starting point and then lay down a series of serpentine tracks that would deliberately pause every so often. These tracks would lead to something he had hidden that to us was like a priceless treasure such as an arrow head he had made, a bone knife, a roll of sinew or a piece of brain tanned buckskin. Sometime later in the day he would say to us that he placed a stick at the beginning and we knew exactly what he meant.
We sometimes searched for hours until we found the starting stick and once found we would begin to carefully follow his tracks. Some of the tracks were quite easy to see while others were nearly impossible. Often times it would take us a few days to fully follow the trail. When we finally reached our prize we would come running back to Grandfather, so filled with excitement and out of control energy we could barely speak coherently. He would then say that we could only keep our treasure if we could answer questions about his trail. He would then proceed to ask questions like; what bush did I stop at and what medicinal values does the bush have, did I remove a leaf or stir the ground beneath it, what animal tracks did I pause at and why, and this would go on and on till we had all of the answers correct.
You can do the same for your kids in that depending on their skill level you may have to hit your feet harder on the ground or drag your feet. For the inexperienced I would suggest a simple log drag. This is where you tie a small log or stone to a length of cordage and drag it from the starting point to the treasure. As the kids skills grow you can lighten up the drag marks by picking up the end of the log or stone and only letting a little portion drag on the ground. Sometimes you can pick the log or stone off the ground completely and carry it a few steps and then drop it back on the ground. This will teach them how to “jump track” where they keep going in the same direction the tracks were heading and pick up the trail again. When they find the treasure and before you allow them to unwrap it or open it ask them a few questions about the trail they followed, what was around certain tracks or drag marks but make the questions just push your child’s skill level a bit. This is even a fun way to get adults involved in tracking.
There are so many modifications you can make to this treasure hunt game. You can make a detailed treasure map where as they reach each way point they have to observe something or do something. You can also begin the treasure hunt by telling them to first find the starting point which can be a stick stuck in the ground, a foot print and/or drag mark. This will teach the kids how to “cross track” and “cut track” to find that first set of tracks. You will be stunned at how fast the kids will be able to pick up tracking. By adding the treasure element to it you will add such excitement. Enjoy!! In Medicine, Tom