Earthwork Wilderness Survival Training School | 413-340-1161

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!

The Mystery of Moose and How to Find Them

Moose are the ghosts of the forest

Moose are these amazing creatures that can be really close to us, and we would never realize it because they can blend into the landscape even though they are over seven feet tall and can weigh up to a ton (2,000 lbs.) and have antlers that can reach six feet across!

The odds are stacked in our favor 

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How do we notice that they have been in an area? According to research by Sue Morse of Keeping Track, “An estimated 80,000 moose live in the Northeast, which practically guarantees an opportunity to see one.”

Where can I find moose tracks and sign?

The key word here is “habitat.” This is the natural home or environment for an animal to live in.

Moose habitat is an area that has lots of brush exposed overgrown fields and meadows and also transition areas where different forest types meet, i.e., field into oak hickory forest. There is also a lot of activity of feeding and bedding in wetlands that are regenerating after a family of beavers has left.

Another place to see moose is where there has been a clear-cut or some sort of break in the forest, like a harvested plot or logged area in regrowth and has been able to have pioneer species of low growing plants, trees and shrubs.

An important step is get to know your trees

moose 4

Animals often have very special relationships to plants, trees and shrubs, and by understanding what moose feed on, you improve your chances of moose sighting and study. Do you know what a Red Maple tree looks like—we are surrounded by them; they are one of the top 10 trees in Massachusetts. The ones were looking for are between 3 and 10 inches in diameter, they have a smooth gray bark, opposite branching and bright red buds that are clustered. This is probably the tree I see that is affected by moose more than any other.

Striped maple is a shrub that is very common and is green; that’s right…the tree bark is green with white flecks and stripes in it. This is a favorite of moose, hence its nickname–moose wood maple.

Moose feeding sign

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Moose have this incredible ability to be able to reach up to 10 feet, sometimes higher when they get on their hind legs or depending upon snowpack but what they’re most known for is “walk over’s”—this is where they straddle a young sampling and walk over it while feeding; then the mass of their body lowers down the tree and they just feed while they’re walking…sometimes the branch breaks off at the tip. So think about how many times you’ve walked by these and wondered; now you know that this is the sign of the moose, especially if you look at the ends of the branches and they’ve been chewed off (a deer would suckle off the ends and pull, leaving a tattered end; since moose are in the same family of deer, they also don’t have top teeth).

One of the most exciting things I have experienced is being so close up to them and not even knowing it until I pick up the movement in my peripheral vision that alerts me to seeing their ghost-like movement through the forest.

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Always remember moose are wild animals and like any wild animals, can be unpredictable; it’s important to be careful when interacting with the wildlife.

Enjoy the outdoors,
Frank

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