Heron is our signature program, taking place on Larch Hill Conservation Area in Amherst since 1999! Hundreds of homeschoolers have taken the challenge of the Heron, and have developed their nature awareness and wilderness living skills; many have become Swift Eagles (which is held at the same time/same place as Heron and is for teen)!
“That was the awesome-est Heron I’ve ever had!” exclaimed Xavier as he came out of the woods…traipsing through 2 feet of snow!
Curriculum covered is seasonal according to the natural laws and cycles of nature. For the development of wilderness living skills, it is necessary that we follow the rhythms of the Earth by harvesting materials and creating our earthen wares in the proper season.
WHO: Ages 7+
WHERE: Amherst, Massachusetts
WHEN: Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; Fall (12-week), Winter (8-week) & Spring (10-week) sessions
HOW MUCH: $55-$70/class, sliding scale + $10 for Handbook/Journal (required–same can be used for all 3 seasons) + $10 for T-shirt (required only for Spring session; not available during Fall & Winter). 50% tuition due upon registration; balance due within 2 weeks of start of Program…payment plan is available.
Parents of Heron participants say…
“Our 9 yo daughter had been having a hard time last winter. We had just removed her from a school where there was a lot of stress and unkindness and then she had a severe fracture of her leg while skiing. It was a blow to her confidence and we watched her, for the first time, worrying that the world might be an unsafe place. Heron welcomed her into the fold and the group even pulled her through the woods on a sled so she could continue non-weightbearing with her fractured leg.
The first day I dropped her off it was sub-zero winter weather and I left many phone numbers sure that she would need to be picked up early. Quite the contrary—-when I came at pickup time she was the last one to leave and kept playing and talking with the happy group while the parents shivered miserably in the parking lot. It is a magical program where everyone is special. For our daughter it was more—she learned to feel safe in the world again, to trust her body and her knowledge and be empowered again. Thank you Frank and all the amazing leaders there!”
“All I know is that she has matured a lot this past year. I’m sure this is, in part, due to Heron, as well as other factors.”
“Sebastian is always trying to identify plants now.”
“He loves to fox walk now. Also, he’s been on the lookout for ticks and poison ivy.”
“She learned: how to identify poison ivy and plantain, cordage, carving the right way, how to “fox walk,” how to pass a tool or a weapon safely.”
“Your ceremony and the kids reminded me of who I want to be and how I want to be living my life every day. It helped me within myself to remember all of his many many strengths, as I tend to focus on what needs ‘fixing.'”
“I was so excited when my son was old enough and we found out about Heron, as he could then join his sisters in the outstanding experience that Earthwork programs provide for kids. (As homeschoolers it is always great when all your children can participate in the same class, especially when you live far away from the activity, as we do). I was a little nervous about how my son would do, though as he isn’t as ‘outdoorsy’ as his sisters. As a true testament to the wonder of Earthwork Programs, he loved Heron as much as they did! Frank, and all the wonderful staff he employs, impart their vast knowledge and skills with the kids making for an unforgettable experience.”
“I have Barred Owl!” Christoph
“I noticed the days are getting longer.” Child in Heron Program
“I’m so thankful – a long very heartfelt list.” (upon rejoining Heron) Teagan
“Good sacrifice, Max!” Liam (when he was willing to trade teams)
“It was really hard for me – I left my body.” Tavi (being an eagle, a guided visualization)
“I don’t care if I am annoyed, dirty, muddy as long as I am having fun.” Benedict
“I want to be an LIT!” Max (watching Freddie do bowdrill, asking to help out)
“Who are you?” Teagan (to Benedict who had his hood on)
“Cute, the way I am doing this, wrap it around my finger [cattail fiber]…gives it an old look…antique.” Child
“I am working hard towards my Bobcat badge” Liam (using his knife on cordage)
“I need an assignment for you, HenaSusha.” Liam
“Smells like Frank, he smells like fluff.” Liam on guessing that Frank was hiding nearby
“I can carve a rock with a rock, I am thankful for jagged edges” Christoph explaining the bipolar split rock
“Reminds him of a wolf, I smell a rock.” (after Christoph brought his bipolar split rock) Liam
“I can make a stone necklace for you.” Freddie to Sam
“Once you have yours, you get really connected to it.” Ayana
“You’re really good at seeing where the frogs are!‘ Benedict to Vanessa
“He said ‘NO thanks!‘” Christoph when the frog jumped out of his hands
“My foot is bothering me. I think I will take a look at it and put bandage on where it hurts.” Max