Feet in the Fire Near Family Tents

Bear Mountain Family Tents

Bear Mountain Family Tents

When my son grew to five years old we joined a program at the YMCA called “Indian Guides”.  It is a great program for dads and their sons to get together with other dads and their sons once a week and pretend being an Indian tribe.  Normally five or six sets of dads and sons would form a tribe and assign their tribe name.  Ours was the “Tawakoni Tribe”.  One of the dads volunteered to be a Chief, while another volunteered to be a medicine man and another gathers “Wampum” (money or weekly dues to be spent later on something special for the tribe).  All of the dads also choose an Indian name and each five or six year boy chooses an Indian name.  My Indian name was “Big Cloud” and my sons Indian name was “Swift Cloud”.  Then we would all spend a weekend together using wood burning tools to burn our names into a leather medallion to be worn each week as we referred to our Indian names.  Each week the tribe plays games like the Indians did and tell a story like the Indians did.  You get the the picture.  It was really a lot of fun, especially the  camping trips we went on in the spring and fall.

Twice a year all of the tribes who joined the program would get together to form a nation tribal meeting and spend time, camping, fishing, painting arrow hears, making crafts, swimming, kayaking and cooking outdoors.  We each spent time in our family tents and often shared family tents with one or more sets of dads and sons.  My son and I spent time in our family tent and made lots of friends that I know will last forever.  There were two rituals that were communicated by the chief of the nation to all of the tribes that I will never forget.  The first was that five and six year old boys can get into a lot of mischief if they aren’t tended to properly.  So each day over a weekend camping trip the dads were supposed to report the names of those boys who had a mishap or misbehaved during the day and at the evening gathering of the tribes, those boys would receive a “Broken Feather” which signified they had done something undesirable.  All of the boys learned a lot from this and after the first meeting, very few boys received a broken feather.

The second ritual was a message to the chiefs to make sure all camp fires are put out completely and that the only way to ensure the camp fire is totally burned out and safe is to place their son’s feet in the middle of the fire after it had been put out and water add to put out all the burning embers and coals.  I know what our dads did but what would you do?  Would you put your sons feet in the fire after putting it out.  Would you be absolutely certain that the campfire would NOT hurt your child.  If you are a spouse or girlfriend, would you trust your husband or fiance to put out the campfire so completely that it would be safe for his son to stand in the middle of the campfire?


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