Join Earthwork Programs for a wilderness experience!
Our Forest Walkers program involves various specializations of skills and tiers of advancement. Like the growing of a tree, Forest Walkers adventure begins in the roots, with deep connection to nature, and rises through the trunk and branches as students gain an understanding of various skills. Specializations include:
- Plant Identification
- Primitive skills
- Wilderness First-Aid
- Team Development
Preteens and teens will learn the skills to be confident and comfortable in the outdoors while building community and developing as a leader.
WHO: Ages 10+, Co-Ed (mature younger children on a case-by-case basis)
WHERE: Conway, Massachusetts
WHEN: 10 am-3 pm, 3rd Saturday until May 19, 2018
HOW MUCH: $55-70/Saturday, sliding scale WINTER SESSION $165-$210, sliding scale
Our goal in Forest Walkers is to guide young people on their path to wilderness self-reliance and connection with nature. We will provide students with the knowledge and hard skills to prepare them to thrive in life through outdoor experiential learning. We use a merit and advancement structured curriculum, where successful practice and demonstration opens doors to further freedoms and specialties.
At the core of the Forest Walkers program, students will work with mentors to gain respect for nature by understanding the importance of water, fire, food and shelter as our most basic human needs. They will begin to learn about camp, fire, and wood crafting as well as local plant, tree and animal species. They will practice the art of camouflaging and being still in nature. True self-reliance in the wilderness is grown out of deep connection with the earth and indigenous wisdom. Learning awareness of the human bond with the land and understanding of the knowledge passed down by our ancestors will give students the perspective and connection they need to learn these skills.
I Rót- Roots (Our Foundation)
For Forest Walkers, the roots are all about building a relationship to nature and stewardship. This involves an understanding of introductory wilderness skills: kit and equipment management, camp-site selection, water purification, live and dead wood selection, poisonous plant identification, as well as nature awareness practices like safety and mentality, sits spots, owl vision, fox walking. etc. This will be a half-day lesson but, these practices will be interwoven into every day, and central to all teaching.
II Meiðr- Trunk (Our Strong Structure)
The Trunk is about wilderness skills. It focuses on basic to intermediate bushcraft skills. It is divided into 3 levels of difficulty and 5 areas of practice. Advancement in each level is signified by a belt loop, which is awarded for naturalist knowledge, stewardship, and a demonstrated understanding of required skills. Four tools or talismans will hang from each belt loop, and only when the loop is full will the student be allowed to work on his/her next loop. The areas of study these tools or talismans represent are: Woodcraft, Campcraft, Firecraft and Cooking. (Ecology, Naturalist Training)
Level I – The Forest Walker can differentiate between opposite and alternate growth species. The Forest Walker can identify Birch Polypore mushrooms and know their properties and uses.
Level II – The Forest Walker is able to name the differences between deciduous and coniferous trees. The Forest Walker can properly identify White Pine trees, and knows the uses of its needles and inner bark, and can make pine needle tea.
Level III – The Forest Walker can name different leaf edges, and differentiate between leaves and leaflets. The Forest Walker can identify Plantain, and understand its properties and uses. The Forest Walker can make a poultice with Plantain.
Level I – The Forest Walker is able to demonstrate safe knife handling and proper knife maintenance and sharpening. The Forest Walker can fell a sapling with a folding saw and debark it in full.
Level II – The Forest Walker is able to demonstrate safe ax handling and proper ax maintenance and sharpening. The Forest Walker can fell a dead standing tree as thick as her/his leg with an ax and bow saw. The Forest Walker can make a tent stake with point, chamfer and beak notch from green wood.
Level III – The Forest Walker can demonstrate skillful use of an ax, knife and saw. The Forest Walker can complete a try stick, showing his/her understanding and proficiency of carving. At the final stages of this level, the Forest Walkers as a group must show they are able to fell, limb and process a torso thick dead standing tree.
Level I – The Forest Walker can select a suitable and safe shelter location, demonstrating knowledge of the 4 Ws, Water, Weather, Wind and Widowmakers. The Forest Walkercan rig a simple lean-to using a tarp and cord.
Level II – The Forest Walker shows proficiency in building a freestanding, waterproof, one-person, A-frame shelter and jumble-bed utilizing only natural gathered materials for insulation.
Level III – Working together, the Forest Walkers will build a secure group lean-to using only natural materials.
Level I – The Forest Walker demonstrates building a twig fire fire-lay using matches as ignition. The Forest Walker is able to identify birch and hemlock and demonstrate a knowledge of their properties and uses.
Level II – The Forest Walker demonstrates building a top-down fire fire-lay using a ferro rod as ignition. The Forest Walker is able to identify pine trees and find fatwood, demonstrate its properties.
Level III – Working together, the Forest Walkers are able to build a Saami Nying Fire, using flint and steel as ignition. The Forest Walker demonstrates ability to make a tinder bundle using three different materials. The Forest Walker can identify varieties of maple and oak trees, and exhibit a knowledge of their properties.
Level I – The Forest Walker shows an ability to boil water, cook boiled food on coals and roast foods, utilizing the fire in its different stages. The Forest Walker demonstrates cleanliness and sanitary practices in her/his cooking. The Forest Walker can craft chopsticks and/or a fork.
Level II – The Forest Walker can build and bind a tripod, and carve a pot hook to suspend a kettle. The Forest Walker is able to prepare a baked meal in tin foil or Dutch oven. The Forest Walker shows an ability to carve a working spatula.
Level III – The Forest Walker can build a functional Burtonsville rig, and show cooking proficiency in frying and grilling foods. Working together, the Forest Walkers make a meal for the group, with each Forest Walker creating his/her own dish. The Forest Walker can craft a usable spoon.
III Speki- Branches (Creating Individuality)
The Branches deals with advanced bushcraft skills. These skills include starting a fire with flint and steel, friction fire with bow and hand drill, camp cooking fried and grilled food, wild edibles identification, wild medicine identification, carving a try-stick, safe tree-felling, and building a natural shelter.
IV Blomi- Buds (Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Today)
Our Forest Walkers–over time, as they develop skills and abilities and self confidence–will ultimately carry ten-piece Forest Walker Kits:
- Fixed-blade knife
- Tarp with lines
- Blanket, bedroll, or sleeping bag
- Cook pot
- Mug (kuksa)
- Ferro rod
Forest Walkers will also be required to carry an emergency kit in their packs at all times. This kit should include:
- First aid kit
- Pocket knife or multitool
- 50 foot Paracord Bundle
- Sewing kit
- Duct tape
- Bug spray
- Waterproof matches and lighter
- Emergency blanket