Magic happens when you place a bow and some arrows in a child's hands. There is an instant connection with history, culture and the natural environment as well as their own imaginations and the empowerment that learning a survival skill brings.
Testing a bow to find the perfect one
Imagine threads connecting them with the thousands of years of archery history and culture and with almost every continent on the planet. They are holding the same tools that were used to obtain food, to fight wars, to define social status and to prove athletic prowess.
Picture threads connecting them with nature nature that create a link to understanding the natural world that is necessary to successfully hunt with bows and arros as well as of the surrounding environment, what lives there, what length bow to use, what size arrow, how to track and what can help or harm.
Ranger Tom finds the right sized bow for the youngest of the group
And some of the most important connectors built are within their own minds. They get to become, for a moment, the hero or heroine of their favorite novel or to be one of their own ancestors. They get to be in a place, in a moment in time in which its possible to both step outside their everday lives and step inside a place inside themselves where they can be a girl fighting for the life of their sister, or a mythical warrior intent on saving a kingdom. A world where they can gain a sense of empowerment, and the knowledge that they can master a skill that could take them all the way to the Olympics.
On a hot day in late August a group of friends had this experience at Bear Creek Lake State Park. Ranger Tom Kneipp led an archery class for my kids and some of their friends. I watched them transform from middle school kids (and one tag-a-long younger sibling) who were more concerned about the heat and the bugs turn into warriors who were ready to take on the world - even if that just meant a hike in the woods to explore and let their minds stretch just a little further.
Lined up to shoot
Virginia State Parks provides programming so everyone can have opportunities for an experience that can transform them - whether it's learning a new skill, discovering the mysteries of the woods and waters or understanding history on a deeper level. For more information about upcoming events please visit our Events list.