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Have You become One with Nature Yet?

Coldwell Banker created a video to show prospective home buyers some activities in Western MA…and the filming crew visited one of our Homeschool Programs in Spring of 2019.


Would you or your kids like to learn a little more about wilderness surviaval? Would you like to just get your kids off their phones and outside this summer….?

Meet Frank Grindrod, he started a school called Earthwork Programs. Frank has been teaching people about his passion for living in and preserving the beauiful forests we have in our surrounding communities. He teaches everything from fire building, animal tracking, shelter building and much more. Clients of all ages have enjoyed learning from his immense knowledge and passion for nature. Learn more about his program here.

WILDERNESS LIVING SKILLS & NATURE AWARENESS Programs are experiential and teach true sustainability; how to live with nature in a way that benefits us and our environment. This creates a natural balance in our lives

Website: http://www.earthworkprograms.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/earthworkprogramsfan/

 

Daily Hampshire Gazette: Youngsters learn outdoors skills in the Conway wilderness

We’re so excited to share this article that was recently in the Daily Hampshire Gazette!

We offer thanks to Carol and Greta for coming out and capturing the magic of what we do (which we do in ALL our Programs–Summer Camps, Homeschool, Weekends of Workshops)!

 

 

Youngsters learn outdoors skills in the Conway wilderness

CONWAY — On a recent Thursday evening, 13-year-old Emmet Eichacker slept in the woods under an A-frame shelter he constructed from branches and twigs, just large enough for one person.

Sleeping on the ground outside might not sound comfortable, but Eichacker was well-rested the next day. In fact, he said, “I overslept.”

Eichacker is a leader in training with “At Home in the Woods,” a youth day camp from Earthwork Programs. As part of that training, he spent one night in the wooded area where the camp is held on Route 116 in Conway. Earthwork offers wilderness skills training for children, adults and families. It also puts on expeditions to places like Alaska and workshops on everything from animal tracking to medicinal plants.

On a recent Friday afternoon at the youth program, the campers’ “home” was in a small clearing inside a wooded section of the camp. There, kids climbed trees, carved wood, crept through the woods and wore dirt and clay as camouflage.

Tree branches served as makeshift hooks for water bottles and backpacks to dangle from. Nearby, there was a small circular shelter made from sticks in addition to Eichacker’s triangular one.

“This is like a little home away from home,” said Frank Grindrod, the director and founder of Earthwork Programs.

The weeklong youth camp, offered most weeks in the summer, teaches outdoors skills, including how to carve with a knife, build a fire, make utensils and identify wild edible plants.

In Grindrod’s outstretched hand, he held a branch with red berries on it. “This right here is a chokecherry,” he said, popping one in his mouth. The bitter berries were gathered from the forest.

“Fox walking” is a favorite skill for many campers. “It’s a stealthy way to move through the woods,” explained Serena Rooke, camp director. One walks slowly and feels the ground before putting their foot down, Rooke said, “so you’re not stepping on a stick and cracking it.”

Creeping through the forest like this, “Their brain chemistry and body changes,” Grindrod said, “Then they don’t want to be on their phone.”

Reconnecting with nature at Earthwork is a central goal. “It’s only recently that we’ve been disconnected,” he said.

“With all the anxiety and depression and things that kids are dealing with,” Grindrod said, “it totally affects them … They just become more connected with themselves.”

Building shelters like Eichacker’s is another skill campers learn, though they do not stay overnight. It’s Eichacker’s fourth year involved in programs at Earthwork, including camps and home school programs during the school year. He keeps coming back for a reason. “I get to be outside and learn skills you don’t usually get to normally learn,” he said.

Eichacker’s lives in Warren, about an hour from Conway. Joyce Eichacker, his mother, thinks the camp has taught him useful outdoors skills, and also everyday ones.

“He has learned the gift of patience. Everything about bushcraft requires a little bit of patience,” she said. “To light a fire with a bow drill,” she said, referencing a wood tool that uses friction to start a fire, “It’s not easy.”

For Grindrod too, the camp’s goals go beyond outdoors skills.

“EarthWork is really about mentoring people through the challenges in life … in a way that basically develops self-reliance and self-worth and respect for the environment and themselves,” he said.

Not a ‘normal camp’

Nearly 20 years ago, Grindrod started Earthwork Programs. “I thought I could add value to people’s lives. And I could help the earth,” he recalled.

His interest in nature started early in life. Growing up, Grindrod’s father would tell him a story about his late aunt, who would hand-feed birds. “That’s impossible. They’d be afraid of her,” he recalled thinking. “Then I was like, ‘OK, well what if it is true?’”

Around age 9, he started to test it and spend more time outside. Eventually, the birds did eat from his hand. “Then I had a fever for just finding every possible way to connect with nature,” he said.

He worked at a wilderness camp for five years, starting as an intern and working his way to assistant director. He also trained with Tom Brown, a well-known naturalist and tracker. Then, Grindrod decided to start his own camp, Earthwork.

Now, he’s publishing a book about how to start a wilderness camp with Storey Publishing, a company in North Adams, that is slated for release in the fall.

In addition to its summer youth camp, which costs between $350 and $410 for the week, Earthwork offers a Friday outdoors program for homeschoolers and themed weekends of programming for families. Adults can take workshops like “The Art of Fire” and “The Skill of the Knife.” The organization also takes people on outdoors trips. Grindrod recently got back from leading an expedition in Alaska, for example, where he taught leadership training.

At the “home” in the woods earlier this summer, a group of young people sat with their knives carving wooden spoons while their instructors stood by watching. Liam Wallace, an 11-year-old leader in training, explained that coals from the fire are used to burn the wood and then it’s carved with a knife. He made a wooden spoon at Earthwork and has used it at home for soup, he said

Wallace has been coming to the camp for several years. “You get to do things you wouldn’t at a normal camp,” he said.

Jude Dan, 7, also worked diligently on his spoon with a knife. He said he’s itching to go on a backpacking trip and his newfound carving skills would come in handy.

Nearby, first-time camper Quinn Bonham, 7, sat carving his spoon.

Did he like the outdoors before? “Barely,” Bonham said. Even at the end of the week, he said, “I don’t like camping, I like staying in hotels.”

As Grindrod sees it, the adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” applies to outdoor education. “One of the things about being a mentor is that you salt the oats through storytelling and inspiring experiences and sensory involvement and developing awareness to where all the sudden, they want to drink — they want to learn about this plant … they want to learn more about the story of this particular animal.”

That seemed to be working. Sitting on the ground focused on their carvings, their hands sooty and faces dirty with camouflage, the campers looked happy.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

fire frank grindrod wilderness skills

Get Your Free Online Survival Course Now…Happy Holidays!

New Membership Online Courses!

Wow! Earthwork Programs is excited to announce its new membership site, where we will be offering online survival courses!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR ONLINE SURVIVAL COURSE TODAY

RIGHT NOW FOR 30 DAYS WE’RE OFFERING THIS FREE 5-WEEK COURSE

If you’ve wanted to attend our Programs but haven’t been able to physically attend, these courses are for you!

A Free Online Survival Course

As a gift for you and your loved ones, Frank has put together a free five-week online course! You’ll learn:

  • fire safety
  • the 5 stages of fire
  • what materials are needed to start a fire
  • proper extinguishment
  • and more!

All you have to do is register with your first name and email address, and you’ll receive 5-weeks of lessons!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR ONLINE SURVIVAL COURSE TODAY

fire making wilderness skills

Fantastic Video – Wilderness Extravaganza! Experiences

At the recent annual Wilderness Extravaganza! –our September Weekend of Wilderness Skills Workshops–a long-time supporter of Earthwork Programs’ vision, T.J. Loughlin videotaped the Workshops. And then created this amazing, fantastic, beautiful video! Thank you so much T.J.! It really shows the excitement of learning that happens at our Workshops!

Frank & Helpers Make Fire at EMS Club Day!

The River Is Calling You to Experience Its WONDER!

Will you answer the call?

protective case

The larvae of many species use silk “like glue” to make protective cases of gravel, sand, twigs or other debris; this is their home they carry with them in different currents in the river

Why the River?

So what’s going on down by our rivers and streams? There is so much happening as rivers have totally shaped our world. They are constantly moving along the earth—creating habitat, moving mountains, building webs to connect us all. We have built our communities near them—as well as our farms; rivers were the “highways” of our ancestors, and today they still help us travel and navigate. They are such an important place for all wildlife’s food and shelter as well as migration routes for birds. Rivers also help generate power for our homes and industry. All of this helps connect us as a community…we even have festivals involving rivers! We learn valuable lessons about all of nature because it is all connected. This carries with it an importance of conservation, restoration and stewardship to take care of our wild neighbors and also ourselves. Let’s not forget all the fun we have too. We play and recreate on rivers–paddle our canoes, kayaks and inner tubes, swim, fish and even renew our spirit. These waterways create so much on so many levels. So let’s go down to the river together and see what is happening.

The approach

animal tracks

Animal tracks of many mammals and birds are often discovered on the edges of the river; here is our friend the raccoon up close with the common 5 toes showing

As we walk through the woods, we hear the sound of the water as it flows through the land and draws us in to get a closer look. We may hear the rustle of the leaves under our feet, feel the sand or hard-packed soil along the banks. There are all kinds of bird songs, and perhaps, one in particular that hunts the rivers—the Kingfisher is making a head-first dive, fishing with its beak. As we get close to the edge, we move slowly, so as not to startle any of the wildlife because we know that even the fish in the water can see our approach. We see the signs of our neighborhood beavers and how they may have shaped this part of the river, and there are raccoon or mink tracks in the mud. We are walking on all the stones that have been placed at our feet by the power of the river. Ahh…we have arrived; let’s take off our shoes and feel the warm stones and cool water and mud spread between our barefoot toes. We look up and around, and notice the branches leaning over the waterway to get full light; it creates a natural shady spot for many creatures from which to retreat the hot sun…and for us too.

What we notice

Surrounded by trees—sycamores, alders, basswoods and willows—we are reminded of the amazing diversity of plants in and around the water—like cardinal flower, Japanese knotweed, cattails, watercress and many algaes—in these important watersheds. Looking around, we see the riverbanks covered in many sized stones—from boulders all the way down to grains of sand and even smaller particles, such as clay, are present too. As the earth is transformed, there is a natural sorting that happens along the river bottom and the banks that we see.

Getting a closer look

As we look closer, we notice things have patterns. We are tracking the water, time and weather to understand the river ecosystem that we are currently seeing. Think of the channels of water—through rain, runoff, snow and flooding–that created the Grand Canyon. We are standing and witnessing a microcosm of that wonder of the world right in front of our eyes!

riffle

This feature to watch for on the river is called a “riffle,” a great place to look for aquatic invertebrates and look under rocks, but be mindful to explore with care and return as you found it as much as you are able

Reading the water

The water flows through in shallow areas called “riffles,” and it runs where you see turbulence in the water; this also is where the water has the most oxygen and can be the coolest part of the river in the summer. It is where the aquatic invertebrates such as caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies and others are very active in their day-to-day lives.

The miracle at the river

There is a display of nature, and it is one of the most amazing things you can experience seeing on a river as the aquatic insects spend between several months to several years under the surface of the water, feeding and living their lives. There is a term called an “emergence.” This is where there is a constant journey of insects—from being underwater for their whole lives up until the point of cresting the surface of the water and starting their adult lives, flying for the first time and experiencing the gift of flight above the place they lived before. Being able to witness this miracle is truly breathtaking and is one of the reasons to go to the river often to “Catch the Hatch.”

Mayfly larvae have 2 to 3 “tails,”and gills can be seen alongside or under the abdomen

Mayfly larvae have 2 to 3 “tails,”and gills can be seen alongside or under the abdomen

Don’t miss the action

These are great spots to watch just above the surface of the water and see the insects dancing, mating and falling, creating a concentric ring that signals the fish to feed. This is where you see a phenomenon called a “rise”–the trout rise, coming to the surface; you see the cresting of the water, and if in a clear pool, in middle or the tail of it, you can actually see the fish itself…size, color and grace as it moves.

Time for a river trip

So put visiting the river on your schedule and experience this miraculous occurrence with friends and family. What kind of values do you think are instilled in your children when you create experiences and opportunities to have nature astound them? I am feeling grateful, and hope I see you down by the river.

In the News!Wilderness Survival, Primitive skills and Nature with kids

Earthwork Programs is grateful for all the press we received this Summer! The Recorder and the Daily Hampshire Gazette visited our At Home in the Woods and Way of the Scout Summer Camps and captured the moments…

“Research shows that kids can’t identify many common plants or trees in their environment, but they can identify 500 corporation logos,” Grindrod said. “Imagine what they would know if learning about the environment was instilled in our culture rather than learning how to be good consumers.”

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, Hitchcock Center, Earthwork Programs connect children and environment

By FRAN RYAN Gazette Contributing Writer
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
(Published in print: Wednesday, August 6, 2014)

On a hot summer day in mid-July, Rainier Jewett, 8, of Florence rose up from the underbrush in the woods of Conway covered in mud and forest debris and sporting a broad, sly smile.

Then several more young campers, including Caleb Schmitt 13, and Ari Benjamin 10, both of Williamsburg, also emerged from the forest. They were all participating in a summer day camp run by the Earthwork Programs.

Frank Grindrod, is director and founder of Earthwork, which offers wilderness education programs and teaches emergency survival and self-sufficiency skills. Grindrod described how his programs help people of all ages learn to broaden their ways of seeing, in order to understand, survive, and thrive in the natural world, and along the way he paused to talk about plants that were native to the area.

…click here to read rest of the article…

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Honing skills that work beyond the wilderness

By TOM RELIHAN
Recorder Staff
Sunday, August 24, 2014
(Published in print: Monday, August 25, 2014)

CONWAY — Frank Grindrod has noticed a trend that disturbs him deeply. To see it, he said, all one must do is compare a child’s ability to recognize corporate logos to their capacity for identifying wild plants and animals.

“You show them a ‘Hello Kitty’ logo and they’re like, ‘Oh, I know that one,’” he said, as we walked through a dense pine forest in Conway. He stopped to bend down and examine a patch of leafy green plants on a plot of land, which had sprung up under a rare, sun-soaked gap in the canopy. Cupping the leaf of one plant in his hand, he said, “But you show them one of these, and they say, ‘Uhh … a fern?”

That trend — one he defined as a decline in knowledge of and appreciation for nature among young people — is one he is determined to change.

“A lot of the nature education is on the surface,” he said. “Some of the kids are good with their hands, and that’s great, but for the ones that aren’t, we feed them stories that they can then share with the group. That way, everyone gets a specialization and it grows exponentially.”

…click here for the whole article…

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“I began to wonder why some kids weren’t out in the park or playground and needed to have everything spelled out for them and facilitated,” Grindrod said, noting that when he was growing up, that type of thing wasn’t as commonplace. “We spent most of our time in the woods, and everyone just had a special call or bell when it was time to come home.”

Learning naturally: Nature programs take the classroom outside

Story by Tom Relihan & Fran Ryan
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
(Published in print: Saturday, August 30, 2014)

As he crested a densely wooded, moss-covered hill in the middle of Conway’s pine forest, Edwin Anderson, 13, of Greenfield yelled, “Wow, come and look at this!

At his call, a half-dozen other kids scrambled up the hill. Some dropped to their knees as they examined a huge brown mushroom protruding from the pine needles on the forest floor. Moments later, Frank Grindrod of Conway knelt in the middle of the group and began to inspect the fungal wonder.

“See how it’s all shaggy on top and on the stipe? This is called ‘The Old Man of the Woods.’” he said. “Oh, and look at this one!” he said, picking up a piece of bark with a couple of fuzzy, pink mushrooms growing on it.

“It looks like the Lorax!” exclaimed one of the campers.

That day, the kids were out in the woods as part of Grindrod’s Earthwork Programs summer camp, which he runs to teach children about nature and develop skills that they can use in their everyday lives.

…click here to read more of this article…

 

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