JIM BRUCHAC (DIRECTOR, NDAKINNA WILDERNESS PROJECT): I run a program called the Ndakinna Wilderness Project and we do programs focusing on wilderness skills, including animal tracking, wilderness survival, as well as bringing in native storytelling and native culture and we specialize in really opening kids and people of all ages up to the natural world and see things that they might not usually see in their everyday life.
BRIAN FEULNER: It’s like going out into a whole different world. There’s nothing around you. It’s just you. You become like, one with yourself. You’re just out there. It’s you, the trees, the squirrels, the birds. It’s just peaceful. It’s awesome – just to be out with nature.
TYREL SHIELDS: It makes me feel good. You know, it helps me boost my self-esteem – just to look up and just to see the sky and know that it’s still there and know that the trees are there providing us with air… and just the beauty of it. You want to experience life while you have a chance and you know, go out and see things, cause you know, just being in the city all the time can get aggravating. Like, if you were in a depressed mode or something, just take a walk out like, around a bunch of trees where you can hear like, the birds chirping. It gives you a more calm sense and lightens you up and just makes you feel more at ease.
CASEY ASSMAN: If you’ve been having a bad day then you don’t feel like, upset anymore. It’s good to get rid of your problems.
BRITTANEY NORRIS: The first time I actually came into the woods, I was very very like, unaware of what everything was about. I’m like, wow – it’s a tree, wow – it’s a bird, and now I understand like, so many different things about trees and everything. And being truly camouflaged – it’s just so amazing how your world can change once like, you go into the woods.
IVAN ERCHAK (HEAD INSTRUCTOR, NDAKINNA WILDERNESS PROJECT): But, there’s too much white. There’s nothing that white in the woods.
BRITTANEY: Right now actually, what we’re doing is we’re covering ourselves with mud so that when we go out into the woods, we can be camouflaged and we can stand out and see the animals, and observe the animals and not them see us and be afraid that we’re there.
IVAN: Brittaney’s looking really good.
IVAN: And so we learn about camouflage from the animals and that’s what we’re doing here. It’s a little different from the animals we’re actually watching cause their going out there so that their not seen so no one eats them. And we’re not really worried about any animals eating us out round here but what we want to do is get as close as we can to really observe the true behavior of the animals.
IVAN: One of the first things that an animal notices, or for that matter, a person walking through the woods, trying to hide out there… is shine. As humans, our skin, for the most part, is really shiny. He’s just taken plain old ash from the fire and he’s wiped the ash all over his body and what this does is break down his shine, which is one of the main things we want to do first.
IVAN: And now we’re moving on to mud. When you do good camouflage, one of the best ways to tell is if someone steps right on you or something like that. Then you know you’ve done the camouflage well. You don’t want to just cover yourself up with mud completely. You’re trying to break up your whole body outline, because obviously, a deer for example, pretty much is well aware of what the human form looks like. This is the clay that just we harvested today from ah… We actually just went down to a swamp and we found a couple different kinds of clay there.
BRITTANEY: You come out to the woods and you use every instinct that you have of like, knowing, like all your senses. You use your eyes, your nose, your mouth, like, your ears. It’s just, you have to be totally aware of everything that’s around you and then you can find a track if you’ve gone into it enough. And once you find that track, you can study it and figure out what animal it is, (title card: “deer track”) like if – where the animal is going, what it’s- where it was, like where it was going, where it was heading… if it turned, if it like, slid when it got there…
BRITTANEY: It’s just a fun experience all together. You just get more similar like, say you’re camouflaged like a tree – you’re just the tree and you can stand and nothing sees you.
BRIAN FEULNER: Being out in these woods, it’s amazing and it shapes you to as a person. And you know, you feel so connected to it and it’s amazing.