"Seton Castle...on the last rampart of the Rockies where the Buffalo Wind is blowing."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Advanced Topics in Lifecraft #2

Ernest Thompson Seton, 1927 Birch Bark Roll

The drawing above shows the Fourfold path, or Lifecraft Way. Seton’s directional graph was inspired by the worldview of American Indians and First Nations Peoples with whom he studied and from whom he learned the outdoors skills, natural history, and ethics that comprise the core values of Lifecraft.

This is its directional organization: Service Way (north), Spirit Way (east), Body Way (south), Mind Way (west). At its core are the words, “Symbol of Great Spirit,” although not the symbol itself. From the four Ways issue the twelve “Laws.” In my view, the graph represents a non-linear complex system, one open to receiving, processing, and expending energy. There is no one entry or any one place of exit; all of the direction-ways are equally important.

The Fourfold Path calls for an integration of body, mind, spirit, and service: A fully lived life is holistic and ecological, in connection with nature, society, and other individuals. Lifecraft considers the individual (child or adult) part of a larger system of male and female, of family, of community (to which service is owed), of spirituality, and of the natural world. It stands against rigid standardization. Each of us should be inspired and enabled to follow our chosen life path. The competition that pits us against each other is morally wrong; the competition that matches us to a high, but achievable standard should be encouraged. The beauty we find in nature, or in our own creations (artistic or hand-crafted of whatever kind) is the highest good. Seton felt that the values he espoused were essential to the survival of our country and our civilization.

For each direction, I will begin with a short description of my understanding of the Lifecraft path. Although developed separately, Seton’s views parallel those of the Learning Model of the Academy for the Love of Learning. 

North. Service of Love: Kind. Helpful. Glad Alive.

The heartfelt intention of kindness begins with those with whom we may be in closest contact and extends to all other persons and all other living beings. Helpfulness grows from the work we do, from freely sharing what we know, to making what we have available for the benefit of others. A sense of joy comes from the mere fact of being alive, at least if we remain conscious of it. We should develop the underlying intention to wake up to a greater degree of consciousness.

East. Sprit of Fortitude: Brave. Silent. Obey.

Bravery and valor is the great measurement of who we are in the world, the fountain of empathy, and the counterweight to fear, the font of hate. Our embrace of silence serves the purpose of allowing time for inward thought and outward listening. Obedience has nothing to do with blind, unthinking subservience, but is an inward following of personal principle. Be conscious of presence and spaciousness in listening. One should develop the capacity for self-reflection and the ability to enter into periods of disorientation.

South. Body of Beauty: Clean. Strong. Wildlife.

Cleanliness of person may seem self-evident, but this too is a continuum encompassing the space immediately around us, and continuing outward into the world so that we may all walk in beauty. Physical well-being grows from choice of sustenance, attitudes towards exercise, body image, sex, and a commitment to being as strong as our life circumstances may allow. Appreciating, celebrating, observing, and preserving the beauty of nature is essential to the preservation of our own bodies in this life, and also a practice critical to the survival and prosperity of all life.

West. Mind of Truth: Speak True. Reverent. Play Fair.

Honesty is the foundation on which all else rests, beginning with taking awareness and responsibility for all our actions. Reverence is being centered within to find a personal definition of the sacred, and an outward private or public expression of belief. The way we behave, our degree of reasonableness, governs our extension of fairness to others. An ability to speak the truth is another aspect of being able to hear the truth, and to be able to sit with each other in difficult conversation. This requires a willingness to be changed by the experience. But also coming to an awareness that what one learns benefits the other as well as oneself.

It is important to understand that the system described by Seton is without boundaries; we perceive each of these attributes as coming, firstly, from within, then extending outward past our own physicality, through our place of living and work, then into the community, and into the world. We must be open to acting as receiver as well as giver of insights. These concepts are neither static in direction nor in definition, but work in concert, shifting, blending, changing.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Advanced Topics in Lifecraft #1

Seton demonstrates cooking

 “All boys [and girls!] are born good, are the children of God, and need only to be developed under sound leadership.”
Ernest Thompson Seton, Blazes on the Trail (1928)

“In our work, we open to the heart of learning itself and rest upon a deep trust that the seeds of basic goodness, love and learning live within all of us.”
Aaron Stern, Founder and President, Academy for the Love of Learning (2012)

Beginning in 1902, Seton set forth his ideas on outdoor education for youth through magazine articles, codifying them in the 1913 The Book of Woodcraft. “Lifecraft” became the expression of Seton’s philosophy, the promotion of which is the goal of the Seton Legacy Project, a program of the Academy for the Love of Learning.

Seton described “Principles” and a “Fourfold Path” (covered in a separate essay) as guidance for personal development that can be best learned and practiced through a close connection to, and respect for, nature. Over decades, the Principles have been reinterpreted and expanded by various authors (including Seton himself) keeping them relevant. Seton set forth as his goal:

I should like to lead this whole nation into the way of living outdoors for at least a month each year, reviving and expanding a custom that as far back as Moses was deemed essential to the national well-being….it is not enough to take men [and all persons of all ages] out of doors. We must also teach them to enjoy it.”

Following each of the Principles (including Seton’s comments from the 1923 edition of The Book of Woodcraft), I have added my own interpretation. On his behalf, I have extended the Principles to apply equally to males and females as well as to persons of all ages whatever their backgrounds. (Seton quotes are presented with tighter margins to distinguish them from my commentary.)

Nine Important Principles of Lifecraft

1 This movement is essentially for recreation.

Many of us, from students moving from one activity to the next (academic classes, band practice, computer study, soccer, music, etc. etc.) to adults moving through the daily routine (listening to the news, working at the office or shop, worrying about finances, transporting kids from one activity to the next, etc. etc.) forget the simpler ways of stepping back. Even vacations—not to mention family reunions—can be work. Recreation is a different concept. It is an activity separate from the routine, something we create for ourselves and which doesn’t have to include (at least, not on a large scale) the consumption or purchase of material things. The very best place to experience recreation: the outdoors! Individuals, couples, families, small groups. This can include anything from a quiet walk to outside sports to activities of personal interest, such as for me, wildflower identification. But fishing, skiing, climbing, quiet reflection, or anything else that puts one in positive contact with nature works just as well. 

2 Camp-life. Camping is the simple life reduced to actual practice, as well as the culmination of the outdoor life…When intelligently followed camp-life must take its place as a cheap and delightful way of living, as well as a mental and physical savior of those strained or broken by the grind of an over-busy word. The wilderness affords ideal camping, but many of the benefits can be got by living in a tent on a town lot, or piazza, or even a housetop.

From time to time, some of us may be fortunate enough to go camping, traveling away from home, enjoying the scenic wonders of the wilderness or the prosaic values of a local park. We may remain out over night, but a daytime picnic will provide much the same feeling. The purpose is to renew our contact with nature. I have done this on Arctic expeditions and other wilderness trips, but also by staying overnight in the roofless ruins of Seton Castle (pictured at the top of this blog)—something Seton could not have imagined, but I believe would have approved of.

3 Self-government with Adult Guidance. Control from without is a poor thing when you can get control from within. As far as possible, then, we make these camps [of the Woodcraft League] self-governing [by the youth participants].

Children (and adults, for that matter) are subjected to many a command and rule, even in their play activities. But given the chance for self-organization, individuals or groups of individuals will find their own way. Leadership does not mean command or management; it has more to do with respect and listening. Supervision is for the purpose of helping others find that path, but not ordering them onto it. Self-governance means taking personal responsibility and personal leadership. As adults, we are more effective and happier in the world if we make these into guiding values. The lessons we take from our time in wild nature can help guide our way through all aspects of life.

4 The Magic of the Campfire. Our [human] race has seen this blessed fire [as] the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendly gathering, council. All the hallow of the ancient thoughts, hearth, fireside, home is centred in its glow, and the home-tie itself is weakened with the waning of the home-fire. Not in the steam radiator can we find the spell; not in the water coil; not even in the gas log; they do not reach the heart. Only the ancient sacred fire of wood has power to touch and thrill the chords of primitive remembrance. When men [and all persons!] sit together at the campfire they seem to shed all modern form and poise, and hark back to the primitive—to meet as man and man—to show the naked soul.
Your campfire partner wins your love, or hate, mostly your love; and having camped in peace together, is a lasting bond of union—however wide your worlds may be apart. The campfire, then, is the focal centre of all primitive brotherhood. We shall not fail to use its magic powers.

While building a campfire is not always practical, appropriate, or even allowed in many public places, the experience of having sat around one is always memorable. The fire may be in the home fireplace, but one outside at night is best of all. Campfires should be intimate, a soft glow in the night, not a blazing inferno meant to defeat the dark Our earliest ancestors, whoever they may have been and whenever they may have lived, practiced their ceremonies within the glow of burning wood. The campfire may create a sense of community. Just as important is one person contemplating the embers alone, or two or three sharing their truth as the last warmth of flame is replaced by cold night. For some reason, the primitive self, the individual soul, may find a way to express itself here where all earlier efforts, in all other places, have failed.

5 Woodcraft [Lifecraft] Pursuits. Realizing that manhood, [or womanhood or personhood!] not scholarship, is the first aim of education, we have sought out those pursuits which develop the finest character, the finest physique, and which may be followed out of doors.

The love of learning, not academics, should be the first pursuit of education. The outcome for the individual is the opportunity to become a fully realized being, finding one’s place in the world, emotionally centered and, in some sense, truly happy. Children are born with a love of nature and the outdoors and a need to engage in physical activity. By encouraging them at an early age to follow their instincts in physical exploration and experiential contact with the natural world, they can be set on a path of learning that lasts a lifetime.

6 Accomplishment by standards. The competitive principle is responsible for much that is evil. We see it rampant in our colleges to-day, where every effort is made to discover and develop a champion, while the great body of students is neglected. That is, the ones who are in need of physical development do not get it, and those who do not need it are over-developed. The result is unsoundness of many kinds. A great deal of this would be avoided if we strove to bring all individuals up to a certain standard.
In our non-competitive tests the enemies are not “the other fellows,” but time and space, the forces of Nature. We try not to down the others, but to raise ourselves. A thorough application of this principle would end many of the evils now demoralizing college athletics [as well as all other levels of the educational system]. Therefore, all our honors are bestowed according to world-wide standards. (Prizes are not honors.)

The worth or power of individuals in society is all too often measured by competition as a zero-sum game where the gain of one can only come at the expense of another. A more positive view of achievement is to measure one’s accomplishments by standards of time and space, and age and physical ability. The lesson is that the measure of our success is in line with what is physically, mentally, and morally possible. Instead of tearing down, we build up. This is an additive-sum game where success drives upward what is possible for us as individuals, and as collections of individuals.

7 Personal Decoration for Personal Achievements. All have a chance for glory through the standards, [Principle #6] and we blazon it forth in personal decorations that all can see, have, and desire.

It is possible to take pride in one’s achievements without being prideful. Recognition of our achievements by others serves as validation of our efforts and as incentive to continue on a path of personal fulfillment, especially where that path leads to outcomes that serve a larger purpose.

8 A Heroic Ideal. The boy from ten to fifteen…is purely physical in his ideals. I do not know that I ever met a boy that would not rather be John L. Sullivan [a sports hero from the 1880s] than Darwin or Tolstoy. Therefore, I accept the fact, and seek to keep in view an ideal that is physical, but also clean, manly, heroic, already familiar, and leading with certainty to higher things.

Personal valor may take many forms for young males and females. It may be the ability to take physical action or moral leadership in a crisis situation. It may mean stepping up into leadership or serving the community or taking on a problem no one else can tackle. It can also mean making personal sacrifice or facing an extreme form of suffering. This does not mean not knowing fear, but, in the face of some great task, overcoming stasis, and taking a needed action or holding to an important principle. In our time—as well as Seton’s had he more clearly recognized it—heroism is a larger genderless concept that includes but is not limited to or by a particular physical ability.

9 Picturesqueness in Everything. Very great importance should be attached to this. The effect of the picturesque is magical, and all the more subtle and irresistible because it is not on the face of it reasonable. The charm of titles and…costumes, of the beautiful in ceremony, phrase, dance, and song, are utilized in all ways.

Aesthetics means sensitivity to beauty. This is the sense we use in our appreciation of the natural world or works of art. It can be a sense of awe. Beauty resides also in mathematical equations and in the logic of philosophy. And, it is also found in the way we see ourselves, both outwardly and inwardly. Without this sense, we are little more than shadows.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Seton’s Relationship with Native Americans and First People by Dee Seton Barber

Seton and Gray Whirlwind speak through sign language, 1920s

(Ernest Thompson Seton's daughter Dee Seton Barber worked tirelessly throughout her lifetime promoting the Seton Legacy, that is, the teachings and philosophy of her father. The words that follow are her own, probably written in the 1990s. I recently discovered Dee's essay in our archives at the Academy for the Love of Learning. dlw)

Seton was a man whom although his skin and upbringing was white, his soul was as theirs, his lifetime action strong proof of this mutual recognition.

From the 1880’s, he went among the people, not to change them, but to learn from them. He respected their culture and their wisdom. He learned their speech and sign, their songs and stories. When invited to council he listened as the wise ones spoke.

He shared their understanding that the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds were each a part of the same whole. He knew that the First People cared for the land with respect. That in their wisdom they took only what they needed to provide for themselves and their children; that they would always be free and the land unharmed, down all through the generations.

He learned to respect their bravery, honor, and strength. He too became wise in the ways of the woods and in the ways of the spirit. He was not a stranger but a welcome friend in the sweat lodge, a council, or alone by a small fire on a hill, listening for guidance from the Great Mystery. He heard the Voices and knew of Vision.

In his youth (in Manitoba), he first learned about the wisdom of the people. He sought to expand his knowledge and learned many things from the Ojibwa, the Sioux, the Cree, the Blackfoot, and the Six Nations at their invitation. He lived with the Crow, the Lakota, the Cheyenne, the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. He knew the Cherokee, the Omaha, and the Kiowa. All his life he shared a deep, mutual respect with the First Peoples, the Native Americans. 

He became well known throughout the world for his art, his science, his writing, and, his philosophy toward the environment. He spoke out in Canada, in the United States, and in Europe. He spoke and wrote about the lessons he had learned in camp and council. He opposed armies that sought to confine the [native] people. 

He opposed the traders who brought the poison of alcohol to the people. He spoke against governments that were determined to change the people, kill the buffalo, dishonor treaties. He despised missionaries who imposed their beliefs without recognizing the wisdom of the old ways.

He was tortured with the thought that all of the teachings of the elders would be lost, and the European settlers would destroy the heart and soul of the people, as he knew them a century ago. Not only taking their lands but also their traditional ways of living. 

He was an advocate for native rights in a time when the West was being destroyed by the greed and avarice of the settlers. He sincerely believed that the highest duty was to provide for and protect the community, not gain or hold riches, but to share and be responsible for the welfare of all. 

He personally knew many of the historical characters. He worked with them sharing knowledge and experience.*

Their fight became his. He used his name and fame to help the people, using his entry into the worlds of politics and power to present the case of the Native American.++ 

The legacy of this man still lives today, in the people around the world who read his books, [who] choose their career because of the influence he had upon their childhood.

The people believing [in the Seton Legacy] understand the positive influence his heritage can be in a world gone mad with greed and destruction. They come from many different parts of the world, from an astonishing assortment of professions, lifestyles, and beliefs. He connects them and the legacy he gave to everyone.

*White Swan, Curly, and Plenty Coups (of the Crow); the turn of the [previous] century Antelope priest of the Hopi Second Mesa; Martin Vigil (Tesuque Pueblo); Juan Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo); Santiago Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo); E. Pauline Johnson (Seneca); Ray Fadden (Mohawk); Flaming Arrow (Acoma Pueblo); Oliver Wilkerson (Cherokee); Jack Hokeah (Kiowa); Juan Pancho (Cochiti Pueblo); Red Dawn (Lakota); Walking Eagle (Ojibwa); Vine Deloria, Sr. (Lakota); Quincy Tahoma (Navajo); Pablita Velarde (Santa Clara Pueblo); Pop Chalee (Taos Pueblo); Blue Horse (Lakota); Gray Whirlwind (Lakota); No Heart (Lakota); Tom Frosted (Lakota); Chaska (Cree); Two Shields (Lakota); Running Bear (Lakota); Good Left Hand (Lakota); Walking Elk (Cheyenne); Bear Save His Life (Cheyenne).

When he wrote his book on Native Americans, [The Gospel of the Red Man] he formed a panel of experts from Native American and Europeans who had made a lifetime study of the old ways. As well as extensive study of the old reports, he asked each one of these to read the manuscript, and make suggestions and necessary revisions. This panel was: Chief Standing Bear (Lakota); Sunflower (Lakota); John J. Matthews (Osage); Chief Oskenonton (Iroquois). The descendants of the European settlers: Mary Austin; Dr. Edgar L. Hewett; Kenneth M. Chapman; Dr. George Bird Grinnell; James Mooney; Dr. F.W. Hodge; Mrs. Laura Adams Armer. Among his close friends were Natalie Curtis; Alice Fletcher; Fredrick Burton; Lorenzo and Ramon Hubbell; Frances Densmore, and many others that did the early recording of different Native American Tribes.

Seton’s Native American heroes were: Kanukuk, Wabasha, White Calf, and above all Tecumseh.

++He [also] fought to preserve the wilderness, the home of the wild animals of North America—the buffalo, the wolf, the bear, the lynx, the great birds [including] eagles, hawks, cranes, and the songbirds. He found glory and prayer in the voice of the songbirds.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Seton Village Wildflowers Late August 2017

Apache Plume

Cowpen Daisy

Long Flowered Trumpet Gilia

Purple Geranium

Scarlet Morning Glory

Scarlet Penstemon

Hollyhock (domestic)
Combleaf Evening Primrose
Mixed domestic and wildflower garden near Academy for the Love of Learning main building

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Exhibition at the Academy for the Love of Learning

Part of a mural painting by Jack Hokeah

We are premiering a new exhibition at the Seton Gallery this August. Details follow below. dlw
Opening Reception: August 13, 2017 • 2:00-4:30PM • Special Guests: Dancing EarthTM Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations
The Academy for the Love of Learning celebrates its annual Seton birthday event with the opening of a new art exhibition in the Seton Gallery on Sunday afternoon, August 13th. This event is held each year in honor of Ernest Thompson Seton’s birthday. He was born 157 years ago in 1860.
Seton, a sixteen year resident of Santa Fe until his death in 1946, created the euphonious “Seton Village” south of the Old Las Vegas Highway on County Road 58 (“Seton Village Road”) about twenty minutes from downtown. The public is cordially invited to the reception.

About the Exhibition
In 1932, renowned Kiowa artist Jack Hokeah (ca. 1901—1969) received a commission to paint 12 murals in a building used as part of Seton’s leadership institute. The new show, “echoes” documents in photographs what turned out to be ephemeral work by Hokeah. The building in which the paintings were housed eventually collapsed leaving no more than a few remaining fragments.
According to Seton Legacy Curator David L. Witt, “Hokeah created murals depicting spiritual aspects of Native culture. Over time, due to weathering, these paintings have largely disappeared. Just enough remains that we can imagine what the experience of seeing them whole might have been like. For me, they are visual echoes of something that was wonderful at their creation, and which remain wonderful in their leaving this world. The inherent beauty of the paintings comes out through this exhibition.”
This year’s event will be made more special by the presence of the creative presence of Dancing EarthTM Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations who will be in residence at the Academy for the Love of Learning during mid-August. They will give a special presentation on August 13th near the end of the afternoon.
More about the murals
Eighty-five years ago, in 1932, Ernest Thompson Seton built a ceremonial structure at Seton Village outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Named the “Hogan” for its resemblance to traditional homes of the Navajo Nation, the multi-sided building housed a remarkable series of paintings.
Seton commissioned renowned Kiowa painter Jack Hokeah to paint twelve large murals directly on the interior plaster of the building. Hokeah (ca. 1901-1969) was an artist of 14 years experience, an exhibitor with the “Kiowa Six” group, and an exemplar of the “Modern” movement in Native American art. Having just completed an important project at the Santa Fe Indian School, he moved on to the commission at Seton Village.
Hokeah worked in the “studio style” which featured flat color fields with little sense of depth. The images he chose to create were carefully drawn representations of the ceremonial and mythological life of Native peoples.
Unfortunately the roof above the paintings proved inadequate, eventually water leaked onto the paintings and later, the roof gave way entirely. Over many years damage to the images accumulated until little remained.
By 2003 when the Academy for the Love of Learning acquired the Seton property, the building was a ruin and its paintings beyond repair. The question facing the new stewards of the property was how to show respect to a place that held spiritual value to Seton and his followers.
After years of discussion, in 2017 the Academy began a process of saying goodbye to the paintings and to the building. There is a feeling of loss but also of renewal. The paintings are gradually becoming invisible to us while at the same time transforming into a new order as they return to the earth.
More about Jack Hokeah
Born in Oklahoma around 1901, Hokeah, an accomplished singer, painter and traditional dancer, is now best remembered as a member of a small group of associated artists from the Kiowa tribe active during the 1930s. That group was known as the “Kiowa Five,” (and sometimes as the Kiowa Six: there were six members of the group, but only five at any one time). They exhibited nationally and internationally during their time together and have, as individuals, maintained their popularity among Indian art enthusiasts.
Hokeah’s connection to New Mexico began as early as 1930 when he took part in the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonials at Gallup where he met and became lifelong friends with San Illdefonso Pueblo potter Maria Martinez. He painted murals for the Santa Fe Indian School in1932, perhaps before creating the works in Seton’s “Hogan.” In September of that year he became affiliated with “The Studio School,” an open-studio project for Native artists organized by art teacher Dorothy Dunn in Santa Fe. The Studio included art instruction although its larger importance came from providing a nurturing, creative space for artists.
Curator Note by David L. Witt: Inspired in part by Dunn, but also by earlier Native art including traditional pictorial drawing on animal hides, and so-called “Ledger art,” on paper, the “Modern” movement of which Hokeah was a part featured carefully drawn representations of the ceremonial and mythological life of Native peoples. This “studio style” featured flat color fields with little or any perspective, de-emphasizing three-dimensionality and depth, historically critical components of European painting. This approach, often using water-based media, came to epitomize “Indian” painting of the 1930s. It was both extremely limiting and immediately recognizable, and subsequently has received praise for its unique view, and criticism for being too influenced by white teachers.
More about Dancing Earth
DANCING EARTH—an award winning Indigenous contemporary dance initiative—comes to the Academy for the Love of Learning this summer for their sixth annual Summer Institute. Artistic Director Rulan Tangen was recently selected as a top ten finalist across all disciplines for the Nathan Cummings award for Social Change.
She has handpicked 12 international Indigenous cultural artist ambassadors from First Nations of USA, Canada, Australia, Haiti, Guatemala, and Samoa for the Summer Institute. They will be in motion 12 hours a day, with cultural exchange, decolonized movement practices, and recognition of the land around the Academy as historically Indigenous space—honoring and revitalizing the legacy of Ernest Thompson Seton and the deep inspiration he found in Native culture.
In recent years the Summer Institute has explored Indigenous perspectives on water, seeds, and Indigenous food sovereignty through embodied knowledge. This year’s theme is renewable energy from spiritual cultural source points. Locations around the Academy include crumbling structures with remnants of historic paintings of dancers by a Native artist. In the spirit of reciprocity, Dancing Earth will revisit and renew these images, translating from the earthpaint into the Dancing Earth living expressions, bringing Indigenized breath of life into the body of creative knowledge that is growing at the Academy. Guests at the annual celebration will witness Dancing Earth artists in creative process during their daily “land dance” practice, then will be invited to gather for the culminating offering of danceworks in progress.

Press Inquiries:
Jessica Smyser, Marketing and Communications Director Hayley Horowitz, Communications Coordinator Academy for the Love of Learning
133 Seton Village Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508 505.995.1860
marketing@aloveoflearning.org www.aloveoflearning.org

Monday, June 12, 2017

Interpretive Panels at Seton Castle

Crowds gather at Seton Castle to view new interpretive panels

Well, perhaps the crowds are still to come. Seton Castle (1932-2005) still stands in altered form (post-fire), but until now without much explanation for visitors new to the property. When you stop by, you will find a great orientation to the stabilized remains. The panels give an introduction to Seton and his family as well as telling stories about the the land, the Castle itself, and the the loving restoration by the Academy for the Love of Learning. Please come by and take a look. The Castle is located in Seton Village, approximately 20 minutes SE of downtown Santa Fe. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An Important Anniversary: The Founding of Standing Rock March 28, 1902

Silver Bay, New York 1910 Seton with campers

One hundred and fifteen years ago today Ernest Thompson Seton nervously awaited the arrival forty-two boys to a clearing near his home of “Wyndygoul” in the Cos Cob neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut. Some of them had vandalized his property. He wanted to offer all of them a chance to experience the outdoors in a new way. 

Seton wrote, “I knew something of boys, in fact I am much of a boy myself.”

He invited them to spend a weekend of camping, swimming, and storytelling. Out this experience came Woodcraft and the international Scouting movements.
The campground became known as Standing Rock. It included the first Council Ring (subsequently a main feature of just about all summer youth camps).

In August 1910, the lessons from Standing Rock inspired another camping adventure, at Silver Bay (Lake George, New York), the first official camp of the Boy Scouts of America, also organized by Seton. 

A century + 15 years later the legacy of Standing Rock continues its great work of promoting the glories of nature, the importance of self-reliance, and the ethic of service to the larger community.