An article from a British Columbia newspaper, the Gulf Islands Driftwood, September 18, 1991, subtitled, “Sociologist’s report credits nature-based movement,” validates Seton’s original purpose in creating his movement. The first Woodcraft camp took place in March 1902 on Seton’s Cos Cob, Connecticut property when he invited local boys – who had been vandalizing his property – to join him for a weekend of outdoor activities. In addition to stopping the destruction of his fences, the boys found among themselves a deeper level of connection than they had known before.

According to the Driftwood, a “sociologist’s report on the effects of an Ojibway circle operating in Deer Lake, Ontario, observed an almost immediate change from a “gang mentality” to a supportive one. The work was based on the concept of the “talking circle.” In this, “Members always have an activity to do, a topic to think about and discuss and ‘something to enjoy in the woods.’” This offers “hope for people educated in the adversarial way to try the consensus way.”

“Individuals, communities and the earth will benefit as more people traverse those bridges because, after all, sane people do not destroy what they love.”

Seton’s “talking circle” took place around a campfire where boys (and girls) learned about nature and traditional Native American ethics through activities and discussion. Importantly, in this 1990s incarnation of Seton’s work, Woodcraft practices by then had been “culture and gender neutralized.”

Although developed independently and at a later time, a contemporary version of this learning model can be found at the Academy for the Love of Learning. On the home page, click on “learning field inquiry.”

Seton Birthday at the Academy: August 14th 2014. Opening reception for our new exhibition, Bird Portraits, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. with annual “Toast to the Chief” at Seton Castle, 7:30 pm.  

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