“If my house was burning down, I would grab my Kamana binders.” This came matter-of-factly from a Kamana graduate I met at Wilderness Awareness School. I was in the midst of Kamana Three at the time, slogging through piles of plant taxonomy. The going was tough, and I wasn’t moving as quickly as I would have liked. Chance Black, the grad, shrugged nonchalantly as he described his Kamana journey. “Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but my favorite field exercise of all time is 4.1. That brings it all together.” I remembered Chance’s words as I wrote list after list and wondered when it would get easier. Would 4.1 be my favorite, too?
I had plenty of time to wonder. My Kamana career spanned four years. Much of that time I worked slowly and steadily. My Sit Spot went from a Virginia meadow to a California hillside to a soggy forest in Washington State. I sat for hours with my massive manual of California flora. I sketched lichens and flatworms. I journaled a local sponge species. At last, it was time for me to venture into Kamana Four.
No matter where you are on your Kamana studies, there is farther to go. As I have written to many a graduate, the end of Kamana may simply feel like kindergarten. Once I was done with the program, I was just figuring out which questions to ask, let alone answer them. My experience doesn’t speak for everybody, but where did I hear something about the book of nature having no beginning as it has no end? Why does that seem so true? To what purpose were my long lists and Latin names?
Well, I can’t give away all the particulars of Kamana 4.1. I can say that I would love to know whether or not it’s your favorite field exercise. After over a decade of steady Kamana responding, I have seen people latch on to various field exercises. Yes, there are especially popular ones. 4.1 is mentioned as a highlight time and time again. Yet every one has been picked as a favorite by somebody. So carry on learning your own place at your own pace, and pay attention to which exercises feel right for you. You may want to find a way to continue them whether or not you graduate. Perhaps it is sacrilege to say it here, but the truth is that not all students who send in their first field pack see Kamana through to the end. That’s the way of the world. But if you are bogged down, I must dangle the 4.1 carrot in front of you, the way Chance did for me. 4.1 stands out as a process that solidified my roots and brought me a greater understanding of myself in the grand scheme of things. It brought together all the lists and lichens, all the sponges and species journals. I continue its practices to this very day. May I do so for many more, and may this reading find you well and thriving in your place on earth.