(Written by Roy Hutchinson)
It is said that our ancestors were better hunters than we are and it could very well be true. After all, they had to be. Either they harvested game or they did not become ancestors. The other reason that comes to mind is that they lived in the environment they hunted. For us an unsuccessful hunt means stopping at the burger doodle on the way home.
We live in a modern flashy world where everything is bright and screams for our attention. We have spent the better part of our lives learning how to ignore. Now we head into the woods where everything is subtle shades of the same basic colors, but our minds are still set to ignore. How do we overcome such a handicap? Well, first we have to re-train our eyes and brains to “see” and then practice it often.
In Awareness training, one of the exercises I use would work well for field day activities. This activity can be set up and managed by one instructor for many students. The activity outline goes as follows:
- Select an area that has various types of vegetation and ground cover, but a safe environment for your students.
- Set out some sort of line. I use a rope or blaze orange tape stretched between the trees.
- Place items beyond the line so that they can be seen from the line. Items should vary in size, color and distance. Put some on the ground and others at varying heights. I use everything from a red backpack under a bush to a master lock key tucked in the bark of a tree.
- Keep track of what you put out and where you put it. (You have to find it again)
- Give your students a sheet of paper and a pencil and have them record what they see. Do not tell them how many things are out there. Have them tell you.
Have the students, after recording what they saw, discuss with the class what they saw and what caught their attention to the object. What senses were used to identify the object? This activity teaches your brain to stop ignoring. By actually saying, “This is important and I saw it because”… Your brain learns to add it to the realm of possibilities.
After teaching an Awareness Weekend, I love hearing from students telling me what they have passed a thousand times, but noticed today.
Please feel free to share your ideas for the hands on activities that you are using to teach this topic. We learn from each other and all our students benefit.
About The Author
Roy Hutchinson is a Master Hunter Education Instructor with the VDGIF. He has over 40 years of outdoor experience, including 16 years in Search and Rescue, with an expertise in tracking and outdoor survival.