It was exciting for us to attend the LLM Centennial celebration and spend a few days in camp. Bob and I were honored to stay in the red tepee, and more gratified when we saw photos of it being painted before we arrived.
I was especially happy to see familiar faces as we arrived – Filip, Chlup, Maqiyémi, Wastewin, Keny, Tokaheya, Bobr, Modok, Willy, and Tokhata Mani. Children I had met in 2014 have all grown up — Guido had tried to teach me some basic Czech when he was only a child; Marek Havrlik reminded me that he was with Logan to meet me at the airport and witnessed my emotional introduction to LLM and Kosi potok. Little Štěpán was unborn when we first “met” him in 2019. Shy Ana had invited me to tea when I first arrived in 2014; and Ája was responsible for the green tunic dress I bought at auction in 2014 that has become my Woodcraft presentation dress.
It filled our hearts with joy to know we were to rekindle friendships and make new friends as well. We appreciated that everyone made an extra effort to speak English. Many of the conversations began with, “I’m sorry, my English is very bad.” Followed by either Bob or me saying, “Don’t worry, your English is far better than my Czech!” There were a few awkward but brief silences, but they were short-lived. Interpreters were always close by. Washte, Logan, Maqiyémi, Waki, Wastewin, Chlup, and the wonderful interpreter for Bob’s presentation (I didn’t get her name).
The efforts to make us comfortable was evident and we appreciated every element – a ride from the airport by Chirurg (Jan), the tepee set up, food preparation, songs, and fire-lighting, etc. Bob greatly appreciated the raised seat and for many of the other considerations you showed him due to his mobility issues, especially the toilet.
The Grand Council procession to the upper meadow and back to the Dance Lodge is always an emotionally moving experience for me.
The first time I walked it was with Logan by my side. As wind blew and we looked at each other simultaneously and said “The Buffalo Wind is blowing”; Seton’s spirit, Chief, was walking with us. This time his presence came in the form of rain just as the ceremony began.
It deepened my feeling of connectedness with Czech Woodcrafters. Having the opportunity to speak, I talked about myself and my journey discovering and exploring Woodcraft. My experiences at Kosi potok have moved my understanding of Woodcraft from a paper exercise to a physical one. I am thankful.
Mornings were wonderful with the Big Family, waking up, waiting for the sun to peek over the trees to gather together facing the sun to sing the morning prayer. Then everyone bringing blankets and seats along with breakfast items to share. Delicious breads, pastries, jams, cheeses, fruits, and, one day, scrambled eggs. Then a game before cleaning up and going to a workshop or competition. Meals at different camps were very special. We enjoyed new dishes such as beet stew, apricot dumplings, and seitan dumplings.
Although I was determined to master bow-drill fire lighting, I was not completely successful.
Thanks to the team of experts who encouraged me with “your technique is fine”. That didn’t help get the fire lit without a strong helping hand.
Machimia, Tate, and Rafal all make it look effortless. Even the young girls are confident fire makers with flint and steel.
I’ve been working to strengthen my own arm and have been successful since coming home. With instruction from Maqiyemi and Ileyawin to make a flint and steel fire, I was successful, more than once!
There was a special meeting held regarding a proposed International Woodcraft Gathering held in the upper meadow. It was a brainstorming session about goals and objectives, possible locations, and time based on the Zoom meeting and surveys. Marek Havrlik will lead planning for LLM and Ron Edmonds from the Ernest Thompson Seton Institute will lead from the USA. They will be sending out information about an event in June 2024 in the US, probably in the New York/Connecticut area, to visit Wyndygoul, the birthplace of the Woodcraft Movement.
Despite the efforts to dissuade me from a hike up to Mount E. T. Seton with Chlup, Tibor, and František, it was a deeply moving experience.
A special bond was woven among us with “special designations/powers” – Chlup was “the berry finder”, František, “the web-catcher” (because he caught many spider webs with his face along the way). Tibor was “the spirit essence”.
About halfway up, František challenged us to throw a stone to hit a tree trunk before we could go any further. I held things up, not able to hit a tree –bad aim and poor choice of stones. It gave us a chance to rest if nothing else.
I love the tradition of finding the stamp pad and getting a stamp as evidence I’d been there. My stamp went on a piece of birch bark. Next time I must get to the other locations.
I didn’t include all the activities or the experiences with new acquaintances. I have special memories with Indi and Lotcia, Waki and Kaya, Katka and Teresa, luncheon hosted by Dragonfly and Marek with Yučikala and Perry, the afternoon to Michalovy Hory, the evening singing, and the children.
Please forgive both of us for not grasping everyone’s names. We received so many wonderful gifts! It was challenging to get everything in our luggage. Bob cautioned that we might have trouble with fire making materials in a single bag. The fire kit gifts were carefully separated. He took the flint. I took the steel. No problems getting through security.
Hope to see you in 2024, if not sooner.
Washte! Děkuji! Blue sky!
Julie and Bob