Earthwork Wilderness Survival Training School | 413-340-1161

Questions from Prospective Participants (click for answers):

1. Why was Earthwork Programs created?

2. Who can attend one of your Programs?

3. Who are the instructors and how can I find out about their backgrounds, etc.?

4. What is class like? Is there an academic component to the Program?

5. Where are Earthwork Programs located?

6. How much do the Programs cost?

7. If my daughter attends one week of your Summer Program, is it worth it for her to attend another week or two?

8. Can I receive school credit for a Program?

9. May I come observe the Program before attending?

10. Is it possible to enroll in more than one Program at once?

Questions by Registered Participants (click for answers):

1. What should I/my child bring to a Program?

2. What about in Winter?

3. What kind of knife is needed?

4. My child wants to use her knife at home. How do I help her be safe?

5. I’ve heard Earthwork staff talk about “mentoring.” What does this mean?

6. How can I empower myself and my child to stay safe around ticks?

Answers for Prospective Participants:

1. Earthwork Programs was started by Frank Grindrod in 1999 as an expression of his desire to build connections with the Earth, with our ancestors, with our communities, and our own hearts.

2. Anyone with an interest in learning what we have to offer.

3. Our instructors are all seasoned earth skills practitioners who believe in and live the vision of Earthwork. Within our mentoring tradition, we welcome special guests and visiting instructors from other outdoor schools. CORIs and SORIs are done for staff. Please let us know if you want to view copies of background checks, health care and discipline policies as well as procedures for filing grievances.

4. Our classes are taught in the mentoring tradition, in which we lead individuals to conclusions through the art of questioning. We spark passion, develop the need or desire to know, ask leading questions and then offer resources to gain answers and understanding. This creates a method of deeper awareness in between classes and after the Program ends. While we teach some topics and skills that are also taught in academic programs, that is not our focus. We aim to give students skills that will empower them in their relationships with themselves, their communities and the earth.

5. Programs can be held at a different locations in the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. Usually details of locations are on our Calendar; you can also check the individual Programs for details. Some Custom Programs can be scheduled at any location that you choose.

6. Click on the Program in which you are interested for specific tuition information.

7. Definitely! Each week of At Home in the Woods offers totally unique experiences…it’s possible for your child to attend all 6 weeks and never be bored or tired of doing the same old thing.

8. This depends on your individual situation. Find out what your school’s requirements are, and we will work with you to see if credit is possible.

9. We find that it interrupts the rhythm of our classes to have visitors, but we offer open houses where you can visit and see what a Program is like. Call for details.

10. Absolutely! For example, we have students who are enrolled in weekly homeschooling programs and also attend our our monthly Animal Tracking workshops.

Answers for Registered Participants:

1. Here is a list of things to bring on each Program day:
* A knife (lock blade or sheath knife) for carving (your child will not be able to use a Swiss army knife or other knife that does not lock–safety first). The children will fill out a knife safety contract with us that we ask the parents to sign as well. See more information on Knives below.
* A filling lunch and a snack. Pack more than for a usual school day–we will be very active!
* A water bottle just for water. Our goal is to stay hydrated. Please talk with your child about the importance of drinking water throughout the day. See more information on Hydration below.
* A small day pack.
* A swim suit and towel (for warm days, camouflage and cooling off).
* Sunscreen and a hat or bandana, as needed.
* Insect repellent, if desired and as needed (no Deet please). See more information on Ticks below.
* A raingear/plastic bag/poncho on rainy days.
* Fleece or wool is preferred for cold days.
* A journal (optional/encouraged)
* Nature books/resources (optional/encouraged)
* Your child’s curiosity for the vast unknown!
* Lots of personal stories of nature adventures.

2. We have prepared Winter Weather Awareness, outlining the special things to bring and keep in mind for our outdoor Winter Programs. Some important points include:
* Wear several warm, non-cotton layers, and have extras along in a backpack. Plan for rain or snow and include a waterproof or water-repellent outer layer (rain pants and top are great).
* Neck warmers/scarves, warm hats, socks, and waterproof gloves are all essential to staying comfortable in the Winter, and extra socks and gloves are always advised for when the first set gets wet or snowy.
* Waterproof boots should come up past the ankle and have enough room inside for an extra pair of socks and for toe-wiggling to keep warm and comfy.
* Plan for your child to eat a heartier lunch and one or two more snacks than he or she would usually. It’s easy to burn extra calories fast in winter to keep warm.
* Send your child with a full water bottle, as hydration is key to regulating body temperature in the winter. Also consider a warm beverage or soup in a thermos. Please remember that milk, soda, and juice are great additions to water, but they cannot be substituted.

3. Your child needs a lock-blade or small sheath knife for carving and as a wilderness tool. An excellent source for inexpensive knives is Four Dog Stovea. Another great place to buy knives is Granny’s Store.

4. Every child creates a Knife Safety Contract at the start of the Program. You should read and sign your child’s contract; he or she should also bring it in a plastic bag, to all Program days. The contract includes important knife safety principles to be followed anytime a knife is used, such as:
* Posture: Use a knife sitting cross-legged with elbows on knees or kneeling, etc.;
* A knife is a tool, not a toy;
* Always consider where the blade will follow through if it goes through the wood and adjust if necessary;
* Only use and store the knife in a safe place (keep in mind other family members);
* Use the hand without a knife in it to draw an imaginary “safety circle” and make sure no one steps into the circle (always be aware of the safety circle’s boundaries);
* A dull knife is a dangerous knife;
* Never use a knife when emotional.

5. Mentoring is much more than simply teaching knowledge or skills. As mentors, we lead individuals to conclusions through the art of questioning. We spark passion, develop the need and/or desire to know, ask leading questions and then offer resources to gain answers and understanding. We also encourage the children to ask parents, grandparents and other people in their circles to foster the threads of relationships we have with each other. This creates a deeper awareness in between classes and after the program ends.

6. Safety Reminders:
Please, please, please make sure your children bring plenty of water to programs. Mornings may start cool but by midday they really need the hydration. Fruit juices are OK in small amounts, but most of your child’s liquid should be pure water. Chronic dehydration is a reality in our culture. Water is good for muscles, organs, discs and the brain, and it helps our entire system function at its optimum. If you want to learn more about hydration, a great read is Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F Batmanghelidj.

Ticks can be found anywhere in our region where there is brushy vegetation. They are tiny–deer tick nymphs are smaller than a period at the end of a sentence–and can carry diseases such as Lyme, which, when untreated, can be permanently disabling. We are getting better at treatment when caught early.

Please check your children for ticks every day if they have spent any time outdoors. Have you children learn how to check themselves too; it is a great awareness skill. Check entire body, especially warm hidden areas like hair, armpits and groin. Check yourself, too, as well as your pets. It’s also a good idea to wash outdoor clothes immediately in very hot water; otherwise the ticks can crawl off of clothes in a hamper and bite later.

If you find a tick that is not embedded, remove it and kill with alcohol. If it is embedded, use tweezers to carefully remove it, grasping at the head and pulling straight back. Keep the tick; you may want to get it tested for disease. When a person is tested there can be a delay in knowing whether or not Lyme is discovered. Go directly to the source: have the tick tested. You certainly should be alert for any symptoms of Lyme disease. More information is at

At Earthwork Programs, your children learn to identify and use many edible plants. However, their identification skills are not foolproof, and therefore, they will also learn how to identify poisonous lookalikes. Please emphasize with your children, like we do in classes, that they must have a knowledgeable adult identify a plant before they sample it. If they are not with an adult edible plant expert, they shouldn’t eat anything they find in the woods. We also encourage cross referencing field guides and resources. Safety first!