Friday ended a short second week of our second cycle at Abrome during this pandemic-academic year. It is amazing how quickly time seems to be flying while we are outdoors. I still haven’t been in the same cell as three other Learners, the other Facilitators also haven’t been able to share a cell with some Learners, and all the Learners have yet to meet some Learners, as well. We are both finding our footing as a community outdoors, and still finding our way as newbies.

For the week, the other cell spent a lot more time at the swimming hole they discovered the prior week. Five of the Learners went on a hike. The younger Learners fashioned brooms out of nature materials to clear out a space for their forest hideout club/academy, where several meetings have already occurred. Two Learners brought their doggo Hunter on Friday. They also discovered a deer carcass on Friday, which was an intense learning experience for sure.

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Two sets of Learners head out on separate hikes

My cell spent this week doing a wide variety of things, although our home base was primarily by the lake. Hiking and swimming were some of the more popular activities this week. On Monday we hiked to the top of the hill for our morning meeting, and then as the week went on four different Learners and I all went on a couple of hikes. Most everyone jumped in the lake to wade or swim, with several Learners jumping off the roof of the dock or the roof of the boat house, as well. On Thursday we even held our afternoon roundup where all but one was in the water. A couple of us spent time reading in the sun, and two Learners spent time writing—journaling or writing comics. A Learner and I helped edit some of the journaling Learner’s writings. Some Learners created charcoal paint for body paint and washable graffiti. We caught a skink, played with mud, and had a long conversation on how Covid-19 is transmitted.

Our CAB is portable this year

Our CAB is portable this year

We had a full crew on Friday, as we have had for much of the cycle. We tend to have more fun on days when everyone shows, and Friday was no exception. We held our Check-in and Change-up meetings after a brief morning meeting that was led by one of the Learners. The Check-in and Change-up resulted in three fewer awarenesses than the prior week, as we collectively agreed that we felt good about the practices around those awarenesses. We added one practice to the Community Awareness Board (CAB) to assist us with one of the awarenesses we are still going to work on.

One Learner was running late while the other Learners wanted to head to the lake to start the day. We had a conversation about whether we should go to the lake and trust that the Learner would figure out that we headed there, or if we should wait for the Learner. It was an interesting conversation that pitted people’s personal wants with consideration for another Learner’s feelings. The debate was settled when one Learner said that if he showed up late and no one was around that he might assume Abrome was cancelled for the day.

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Working on a comic

I expected a slower day on Friday based on the Learners’ intentions. Two said freetopia, one said don’t die, while the others had primarily sedentary intentions (e.g., chill on the dock, finish comic, talk to another Learner, edit book, listen to music, rest). But perhaps most powerfully was “not hike.” That did not last long around other Learners though, as four of the Learners decided to go off on two separate hikes. The Learners came back a few times but spent much of the next couple of hours exploring. Before they left I asked to meet with two of them at 1:00 p.m. for a check-in. I set up relatively close to the Learners who stayed back to write, and one of them eventually wandered over for a long conversation about a range of topics. The other Learner was focused on the comics she was writing.

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Fortunately the only thing that fell was completion times

Just before 1:00 p.m., two of the Learners came back from their hike, and we somehow found our way to the retaining wall that runs along the lake. And for some reason we decided it would be fun to move from one corner to another on a path that curved around a tree and at some point slopes heavily (45 degrees) toward the lake. Soon enough, the other two Learners returned and joined in. We started walking, jogging, and then running the short route as a game, to see how fast we could navigate from one point to another without falling in. It was a mix of exhausting and exhilarating, as the need for speed coupled with the fear of injury or falling into the lake really tested us. It was remarkable how much time we shaved off as we got faster and bolder with each successive try. Fortunately no one fell in, and we stayed dry the entire day (no one jumped in the water for the first time this week).

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One should never feel too old to make mud pies

I got to sit down and meet with both of the Learners I had hoped to talk to. In one of the meetings we addressed a sensitive topic that is likely going to need to be revisited in the future. Some Learners went back to making mud pies, some went on another hike, and one Learner asked me to play the game Should I or Shouldn’t I which helps people think through various social situations. Normally we fully agree what is the most appropriate course of action on any given scenario, but there was one that we did not agree on. “A friend has a fear of snakes. You think it would be funny to see their reaction to finding a snake, so you stick a rubber snake in their bag and wait for the laughs. Should I, or shouldn’t I?” The joy of such a prank was too much to let go. I will be very careful when opening my bag from now on.