Wilderness survival in the wilds of Barrington

Nestled between the shed and the wood pile in a forgotten area of the back yard is the home base for “wilderness survival.”
That’s where you learn to bang sticks against an aluminum ladder or mash pieces of sidewalk chalk into sticky blue or pink paste inside old flower pots or pound pieces of broken concrete in smaller pieces of broken concrete.
I’m not sure how much wilderness survival is actually taking place behind the shed but there is a whole lot of fun happening for my son and the other neighborhood kids.
The group — the kids range in age from 6 to 10 — started playing wilderness survival a few days ago, likely tempted by the secluded nature of their home base and maybe even by a school lesson; I could hear some jabber about indians and arrowheads and the word “Massasoit.”
And while I’ve had to make a few general suggestions to wilderness survival participants, such as “Please don’t spread handfuls of grass seed all over the shed floor,” I’ve actually been quite pleased with all the outdoor activity.
More and more young people are drawn to the allure of the glowing video screen, whether it be a television, video game, laptop, tablet or cell phone. It’s hard to resist, just look at us adults glued to our mobile devices, unable to unplug for more than an hour or so.
I’m a dinosaur so I am far too comfortable — according to today’s standards — going the better part of a weekend without checking my e-mail or surfing the internet. (I also have two small children, so I don’t have a lot of free time.)
Anyway, seeing the kids out back just being, well … kids, is refreshing. They run around getting a good snootful of fresh air, learn to deal with problems — “Hey, that’s my stick. Get your own stick.” — and begin to appreciate the boundless opportunities outside activities can present.
I can remember being younger and spending day after day building empires in the woods across the street from my parents’ house, fighting off unseen enemies, engineering elaborate dams, and sometimes just scratching doodles in the dirt with broken sticks. Most of those days I spent with my close friend Sennen, and I feel blessed to be able to reminisce about those times decades later.
I hope wilderness survival sticks around for years and I hope my son, and later my daughter, become experts. I may even turn the other way when the wilderness survival participants use my last few lawn bags to build a roof for their lean-to.


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