THIS POST BY RACHEL EDWARDS, SUMMER TEACHING APPRENTICE WHO ASSISTED THE HERBAL DAY CAMP. FOR BLOG POSTINGS ON THE TRACKING & SURVIVAL DAY CAMPS, PLUS 150 PICTURES FROM THIS WEEK, SEE OUR NORTH SOUND MEETUP SEATTLE SITE.
This week I assisted Megan, the lead herbal instructor with the herbal day camp held in Everett, WA, north of Seattle. We had an awesome group of young girls to teach the ways of the herbalist. Being an herbalist myself made this a super fun camp to be a part of. I enjoyed Megan’s energy and it was nice to spend time with someone who loves the plant world as well. Each day was filled with the making of many herbal goodies for the girls to take home. They made journals on the first day which turned out to be their own personal herb books in which they loved spending time writing recipes, plant uses, plant sketches, and decorating.
Monday was spent wandering around the park discovering plants that grew there. Megan did a blindfolded activity to help the girls get to know the plants by feel and smell, not just sight. We spent time talking about how to harvest the plants in a kind way and why it’s important to thank the plant and give some offering. Plants are living beings just like us and need to be honored. We made a tea and everyone went swimming.
Tuesday started off with a digestive tea that the girls named tummy tea. They liked learning the benefits of each of the herbs in the tea and writing the blend in their journals along with their healing properties. They always enjoyed working in their journals. We didn’t have to go far to find plantain which was to be added to the salve we were preparing. Plantain is not a forest dweller, but can be found in grassy places near gravel lots and sidewalks. The girls really enjoyed learning all the ways plantain can be used. They liked knowing they could chew it up and place it on bug bites, cuts, and splinters. One of the girls had a splinter so we got to practice some herbal first aid. The plantain worked so the girls got to see the medicine in action. I doubt any of them will ever forget this plant. We made the skin healing salve with plantain and other dried herbs like calendula. We spent the rest of class making a yummy cough syrup. The honey in the syrup is a definite hit. Then off to the pool and then home.
Wednesday was full of more herbal preparations and gathering of edibles in the forest. We made a glycerite that I named happy juice. The herbs were all gentle nervines and digestive aids. The girls went out and harvested fresh douglas fir and western hemlock tree needles to make into a vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a great way to bring out vitamins and minerals from the plants and can make a nice salad dressing. All the girls were so open to trying all the plants and things we made. I would have to say that the girls got most excited about the harvesting of the delicious berries that were all around. Megan was saving the berries collected each day so that a jam could be made at the end of the week.
Thursday was herbal spa day. Everyone made their own tea mixture out of the herb choices. Then we made a face scrub with oats, white clay, lavender, mint, yarrow and honey. The girls did a mint foot soak as well. We also made a simple tooth powder and herbal shampoo. The girls also gathered Oregon grapes, huckleberries and salmonberries in order to make a jam. We didn’t have quite enough so Megan fortified it with strawberries.
Friday was wild edibles day and the day that parents come and get to be a part of what went on that week. The girls wrote on the front cover of their journals “Northwest Herbal Cafe” and prepared a menu and presentation for them. I had spent Thursday evening gathering nettles and making nettle pesto so that we could share it with the parents. On the menu was dandelion coffee that we made this morning by roasting dandelion roots, nettle pesto, pickled nettles, and the yummy jam. Each of the girls picked one herbal preparation from the week to talk about and one herb to share. The parents really loved everything. Megan and I were so grateful to have had such an awesome group of young girls. They really made the week a success. I got to hear a story from one of the parents that made me so happy. The youngest girl in the group was seven, sweet little one, but a bit shy. Her mother came up to me after the presentation and said that each day the little one had come home and gone out to the backyard and made her mom and dad teas. The little girl had asked her mother, “How many herbalists do you know?” The mom answered, “Three.” The little girl said, “No mom, you know four…me!” How beautiful is that. On the last day I spoke to the girls about this ancient knowledge of healing with plant medicines that is being lost in our world of pharmaceutical drugs. I wanted them to know that it is important that they keep this wisdom alive. The week was a success!