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

A. Here is a suggested list of things to bring:


  • Written note if your child will be picked up by someone other than you


  • 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
  • filling lunch and a snack in an insulated-type lunch bag (healthy food choices please); soup and hot chocolate are great for cool/cold days
  • A water bottle or 2 just for water (milk and juice are great additions to water, but they cannot be substituted)
  • Closed-toed shoes (for around the fire) are the best footwear (sneakers, hiking boots); boots are good for snow and mud seasons
  • A day backpack
  • Journal and writing utensil (can be own book or the Wilderness Homeschool Handbook & Journal)
  • Sunscreen and a hat or bandanna, as needed
  • Insect repellent, as needed (no DEET please)
  • A swimsuit and towel (for hot days)
  • Extra clothing. Dress appropriately according to New England weather; this is for a full day outdoors. Be prepared for rain, hot/cool weather, and we get muddy too. Extra clothes in the car for the week may be helpful.
  • Raingear/plastic bag/poncho on rainy days
  • Fleece or wool is preferred for cool/cold days
  • Nature books and field guides
  • Curiosity and sense of discovery and lots of personal stories of nature adventures!

Q: What about in winter?

A. We have prepared a Winter Awareness document, 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
  • Consider a warm beverage or soup in a thermos
  • Send your child with a full water bottle, as hydration is key to regulating body temperature in the winter

Q. What kind of knife is needed

A. A lock-blade or small sheath knife for carving and as a wilderness tool; our Welcome email has more details on this.

Q. Do I need to complete any paperwork prior to attending a Program?

A. Parents need to complete a Medical Form (which we will send with the Welcome email) for every child attending our Summer ProgramsHomeschool Programs or Vacation Programs; a recent physical form and immunization records from your doctor must accompany our Medical Form.

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

A. Every child creates a Knife Safety Contract at the start of our Programs. You should read and sign your child’s contract, and then discuss it with her. 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.

Q. I've heard Earthwork staff talk about "mentoring." What does this mean?

A. 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.

Q. How can I empower myself and my children to stay safe around ticks?

A. Dog ticks and deer ticks can be found anywhere in our region where there is brushy vegetation. Deer ticks are tiny; 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. Teach your children 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 it 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. Find more information here (MA gov).

Q. What about the weather? Do you still run Programs in the rain? How will I know if a Program is cancelled?

A. This is one of the main reasons we require pre-registration…weather in New England can change at any moment. A few days before the start of the Program, we will send a Last-Minute Details email, usually with a weather forecast for the area. Frank shall decide whether or not to cancel as soon as it is possible…most Programs will run even if it is raining, or very hot or cold, but there is no definite answer until a day or so before the Program. We post on our Weather Page any cancellations due to weather.

Q. Can someone else bring home my child at the end of the day?

A. If someone else is picking up your child, you must write a note and give it to a staff member on the first day of the Program. We encourage families to carpool…but it can be a time-consuming project. What we do offer is if you’re interested in carpooling, you can send us an email with the Program and days your child is attending and where you’re coming from, and we’ll send your contact information to other families who are coming to the same Program; then you can make your own arrangements.

Q. We’re coming for the Weekend of Workshops, and what are your overnight options?

A. There are several options for Saturday night!

    1. Camp on the land: Bring own tent & supplies–$25/solo person or $10/person for a family…You can set up your tent in our big field – an 8-acre field of mowed grass. It is a short walk from there up to the main lodge where you can use the shower and bathroom facilities, kitchen and dining room.*
    2. Build a shelter during one of our Shelter Building Workshops!
    3. There are a few local inns and hotels:
      • The Inn at Norton Hill (Ashfield) is a lovely bed and breakfast about 10 minutes from the Conway location
      • The Red Roof Inn (S. Deerfield, MA) is about 15-20 mins away, and the rates are usually reasonable
      • The Whitcomb Summit in Florida, MA, is a good 45 mins northwest of the Program; it has the most gorgeous view in the area (I’m not exaggerating)

*The bathroom and shower facilities are rustic, like a summer sleepaway camp or simple campground. The men’s and women’s bathrooms each have hot and cold water, with 2 showers, 2 toilets, and 2 sinks. Sadly, they are not heated.

You need to register for Camping at least 2 weeks before the Weekend of Workshops.

Bouchard Lodge

The Lodge is a rustic multi-purpose camp building. The kitchen has a commercial gas range, several refrigerators, 2 sinks, and a microwave. It is fully equipped with pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, etc. We just ask that you clean up after yourselves and recycle into the
appropriate containers.

The dining area is very flexible. We have folding tables and chairs that you can use as needed, a small nature library for reference, and a cabinet of board games. There is an old tv and a pile of videotapes that you are welcome to use.

Q: What is your cancellation policy if I need to cancel?

A: Please understand that we’ve planned around your payment. We hire Staff, buy supplies, secure the land many months in advance of the Programs. If you need to cancel, we can offer to hold your payment as a credit for one year…just let us know as soon as possible. If we cancel, then, of course, we will refund your payment.

Q. We’re coming for the Weekend of Workshops, and what are your overnight options?

A: Please understand that we’ve planned around your payment. We hire Staff, buy supplies, secure the land many months in advance of the Programs. If you need to cancel, we can offer to hold your payment as a credit for one year…just let us know as soon as possible. If we cancel, then, of course, we will refund your payment.


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.

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!