The Woods is held twice a week. While themes may be consistent, curriculum and activities vary with each session. Thus, participants are invited to attend either one or both sessions each week.
|CYCLE||DATES||SESSION TIMES||FEES (full session rate)|
The program is held on a 5-acre property in Alpine, OR — to get a sense of the woods, creeks and meadow, take a look at our Photo Gallery. In addition, we invite you to scroll down below for more details on What does a day in The Woods looks like?
** We meet rain or shine — Please wear or have access to appropriate rain/weather gear (muck boots, rain/snow pants, rain jacket, hat, gloves, etc…) to ensure that your body is warm and comfortable to engage in outdoor exploration and nature connection! **
Program Size & Age Range
Our intent is to ensure all children (and their parents/mentors!) are actively engaged and have the opportunity to establish close connections with their peers. Thus, our intent is to keep each session to a group size of 10-12 children, with some flexibility based on age distribution and number of families participating.
The “sweet spot” for the curriculum is 5-10 years old; however, our desire for The Woods is to foster a community-oriented teaching-learning experience.
- Older kids are encouraged to respectfully embrace the rhythms and core routines as their own and will find opportunity to step into mentoring roles.
- Younger siblings who are 3.5 – 5 years old are warmly encouraged to participate with the request that a parent/mentor participate alongside with them, engaging them at a level that feels appropriate and in sync with the flow of the larger group.
Interested in learning more or wishing to reserve a spot? Please contact us!
Program & Materials Fee
Program fees apply to children 3.5 yrs and older. Our fees primarily reflect planning and materials costs as we wish to make The Woods accessible to all who share our vision that nature connection serves as a catalyst for experiential discovery and learning by tapping into curiosity, creativity and imagination.
- As part of our commitment to foster collaborative community, we offer a 50% sibling discount to families who have more than one child participating (applicable to younger siblings ages 3.5 yrs and older)
It is our desire to ensure that you and your child(ren) feel comfortable with the rhythms and routines of The Woods before you make the decision to participate in a full program cycle. Toward that aim, we offer two opportunities for you to gain a sense of how we foster nature connection, engage in experiential learning and build community:
- Come by for a FREE drop-in session during a Program Cycle prior to the one you wish to join. [for example, interested in Winter Cycle? reach out to join us for one of our Fall Cycle sessions]
- Attend the first session in a Program Cycle and make your decision to join us at the end of the day. [if you decide to opt out, there is no fee for your first session]
Payment can be made by cash or check. Please make checks out to: Paul McDermott
Vibrant Village Culture
The Woods seeks to cultivate a “vibrant village culture,” a phrase used by Jon Young, the creator of the Coyote Mentoring model that is an integral influence on our program.
The Woods offers individual, collaborative, and group activities; we ask all participants to thoughtfully engage in the intentional experience of the day, (understanding that at times kids are free to and encouraged to wander with their own intentions). We ask that participants offer warmth and encouragement to their peers, and tap into their own passions and enthusiasm.
Guidelines for Parent Engagement
When feasible, each parent / caregiver is encouraged to participate both along side their child(ren) as well as from a broader context of being a mentor to the larger group:
…watch carefully for what will capture their curiosity, engage their natural gifts, and challenge them in ways they can handle in their personal learning journey. Look for their edges: the edge of the comfort zone, the edge of their awareness, the edge of their knowledge, and the edge of their experience. Then, you can stretch and pull them to a new edge, and then another, deeper and deeper into a sense of comfort and kinship… (Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, p. 11)
The Woods also desires to foster collaborative community among parents and we enjoy seeing folks share stories, questions and insights! We appreciate your attentiveness to finding the time and space to connect with one another in sync with the rhythm and energy of the day’s activities and in balance with opportunities to immerse yourself fully.
The program is held on a 5-acre property in Alpine, Oregon (20 miles south of Corvallis; 30 miles north of Eugene)
- Because of our location, dropping off might be a challenge, so please feel free to stay and play as well. If dropping off works for you, then that works for us.
- The specific address for The Woods will be shared with you directly via email — Please contact us!
What does a day in The Woods look like?
Part of our approach at The Woods is to recognize and embrace the natural flow of learning, therefore it is difficult to commit to sharing exactly how a typical day will present itself. That said, we believe that offering a structured experience that invites a learner to repeat or practice similar experiences within a greater predictable structure offers the opportunity for broader exploration of a subject and deeper interaction with that material because of the known environment; this can foster their forward thinking, and allow them to prepare, predict, and ponder what they can do with the experience at hand. A framework of the working outline that we ‘mostly’ follow looks like this (times are approximate and activities may vary):
Upon Arrival (20 minutes) – Nature Nuts & Free Flow – Participants engage in a Free Flow of exploration on the land or pick a “Nature Nut” to receive a nudge – they may visit their sit-spot, sketch some fungus, build a fairy nest, track a creature’s trail, or simply play.
The purpose of this time is to encourage connection with the space on one’s own terms – to have a Direct Nature Connection; it is intended to ground the learner, as well as to inspire possibilities. We want the learners to feel a sense of ownership over the long-term experience.
A Time of Vitality! (20 minutes) – Quickness of a Coyote – This time will be used to play with and practice some of the core routines that we encourage. The core routines help develop our senses, our balance, and our general awareness of and with nature. Some of the sensory building looks like: fox walking, listening with deer ears, seeing with owl or eagle eyes, offerings of gratitude, sensory meditation, and more!
Story of the Day (15-20 minutes) – In effort to bring our hearts and minds together as one, we gather at one of our favorite gathering spots to share gratitude, and to share a common intention, concept, or theme of the day. There is a brief discussion or story (oral), and then we begin one of our primary activities.
The purpose of this time is to practice intention and direction; offering children time to practice and recognize thoughtful or empowering connections in their world allows them to create and develop their own intentions and purposes for their future. Sharing their Gratitude and connections with peers, as well as Catching Stories from others, encourages a confidence of one’s own voice, as well as recognizing the value in hearing others’ understandings and connections.
Sit Spot / Tracking (15 minutes) – One’s sit spot is an essential core routine; it grounds us with intention to be fully present and aware of the natural cycle that we are a part of. It encourages us to listen to the smallest sounds and to tap into our Quiet Minds.
Main Activity – Art, Language, or Science (55 minutes) – In the meadow or woods we will connect the theme or concept of the day with an art project, science experiment, nature game or other engaging activity.
The purpose of this connection is to promote artistic expression of a themed concept, to develop language or foster imagination of the topics discussed, and to encourage exploration of the foundational concepts relating to the environmental and ecological sciences, including the natural cycles (life, water, seasonal..), interconnectedness, symbiosis, and anything else that becomes interesting!
Music: Rhythm and/or Song (20 minutes) – Whether we are drumming in the woods, singing in the meadow, or playing kazoos, we like to close our day with a harmonic jam!
The purpose of our music is to bring life to the metaphor of holding harmony with the natural cycle; recognizing the interconnectedness of the rhythms that we create, as well as those of the natural world, is what helps the cycle sustain balance.