Stories help build wilderness program

Rain Freeman-Sheehan tells a tall tale while fellow tall-tale spinner Steve Jones ponders the veracity of her story. At left, Rain’s friend Audrey Czala listens. - Wintry Sheehan photo
Rain Freeman-Sheehan tells a tall tale while fellow tall-tale spinner Steve Jones ponders the veracity of her story. At left, Rain’s friend Audrey Czala listens.
— image credit: Wintry Sheehan photo

Several of the Island’s best known storytellers will join together next Saturday for an evening of tall tales to benefit the Vashon Wilderness Program.

Audience members will be invited to tell their tales, too, in what is planned to be an interactive, participatory and light-hearted gathering.

Most of the stories will be fantastical tales, engaging the audience throughout the evening in sorting out what is truth and what is stretched truth, according to organizer Leslie Enzian.

The event’s storytellers include Steffon Moody, who does not just tell a story but embodies characters on stage; Steve Jones, who will tell a story with the characters and action unfolding in alphabetical order; Janet McAlpin, who will re-enact a story of wisdom; 11-year-old Rain Freeman-Sheehan, who will tell a story to convey that we are all connected and are part of nature; and Jen Wolfe, visiting from West Seattle and an elder in the Wilderness Awareness School. She had a tall-tale childhood herself, traveling around with her family, including the family’s horse, by bus.

Stacey Hinden will emcee the event and invite audience members forward to spin their yarns between the featured storytellers.

“Storytelling is important to connect people to their historical roots and community and to gain wisdom and insight,” said Enzian, who was inspired by a tall tales competition at the Folk Life Festival years ago. “This event is an attempt to revitalize storytelling on Vashon.”

The evening’s other mission is to raise scholarship funds for the Vashon Wilderness Program; Enzian hopes to raise at least $500 for the program, which offers wilderness opportunities in its weekly programs for youth, an adult training series and a monthly tracking club.

In its youth program, kids meet each week and are immersed in nature on the grounds of Camp Sealth. They learn skills, such as tracking, navigating, birding, surviving in the wilderness, safely wandering and more. The program mentors also hope to instill a deep sense of belonging and connection in the kids, giving them the sense they are part of the fabric of the natural world.

“I consider it the most worthwhile program that my kids have been involved with,” Enzian said. “They learn and are connected to the outdoors.”

All Islanders who love a good story are welcome to come and share theirs but should keep in mind this is an all-ages event and plan subject matter accordingly.

Telling Tales

The storytelling benefit will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at Havurat Ee Shalom, 15401 Westside Hwy. S.W. Tickets are $7 for children, $9 for adults and $18 per family and are available at Books by the Way.

For more information, call Leslie Enzian at 567-5748.

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