For the third year in a row, students from seven schools on the Wind River Reservation traveled to the Bridger-Teton National Forest to learn outdoor education. But this year fifth graders got some added instruction from tribal elders.
The Blackrock Field Camp is a collaboration with many agencies including the Elk Refuge, the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club. It teaches fourth graders stuff like how to identify native plants and amphibians, offers demonstrations of traditional tools, and Bridger Teton District Ranger Todd Stiles said, they even let kids try the bear charger.
“The grizzly bear kind of runs on tracks that the kids get an opportunity to see how fast a grizzly bear would charge and they had inert bear spray cans that they were able to use to spray that bear. So, of course, that was a lot of fun because their classmates got to push the bear and the other student was on the other end getting to spray bear spray,” he said.
But this year, the program was expanded to include instruction from tribal elders from both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. Stiles said, on the morning they came, each tribe offered a prayer and three students shared a song. He says the elders then offered cultural instruction in the field.
“I’ll tell you, this year when we added the tribal elders coming that was such a neat addition because the elders had time to spend with their young people.”