Youth Nature Immersion FAQs


 

 

PROGRAM CONTENT and APPROACH

  • What is the nature immersion program?
    Through The Trees nature immersion homeschool programs for ages 4-17 takes place on our new Freeport, Maine property - over 50 beautiful wooded acres with trails, a pond, field and the beautiful Frost Gully Brook. Kids and teens spend their time outdoors exploring, learning gardening and nature skills, making new friends and having wholesome, unplugged fun! Currently this program is offered on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays for four different age groups.
     
  • How does my child  benefit from your nature immersion programs?
    The benefits of being in nature have been well documented. Being immersed in nature supports every domain of development - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social.
    According to the Children and Nature Network, spending more time in nature:
    * Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms
    * Supports Creativity and Problem Solving
    * Improves Self-discipline
    * Reduces Stress
    * Improves Academic Performance
    * Enhances Cognitive Abilities
    * Improves Social Relations
    We have seen the kids in our programs grow to become more resilient, responsible, self-aware and mindful as a result of our time in nature together. Our staff prioritize creating a meaningful community and helping kids develop emotional intelligence, problem solving, communication skills, and self-confidence.
     
  • Do you follow a curriculum?
    Our Nature Immersion program embraces a self-directed, minimally structured, play and project-based learning environment. Learning happens organically within nature and the changing seasons, creating an optimal environment for creativity, exploration, personal growth and independence. Our Guides facilitate learning by asking questions that engage curiosity, support kids in learning more about what interests them, and provide materials, resources and ideas to deepen that natural learning process. In the outdoor environment with ever changing elements such as animals, weather, hidden rocks or roots, the seasons, children and teens are able to practice resourcefulness and problem-solving and develop a deep curiosity that promotes lifelong learning.
     
  • What educational subjects are covered in your programs?
    In the Nature Immersion program, kids engage in natural “lessons” that involve science, math, fine arts, language arts, physical education, and social studies and much more. Some or all of these subjects are covered in bits and pieces throughout the program, very often beautifully woven together. Participants in our programs are supported with space and freedom to explore and create their own games, experiments, and projects and as a result their experience includes natural consequences, tangible results, and many connections. Some examples are:
    * Science: changing seasons, plants/trees/animals observation and exploration, building bridges and boats, engineering shelters, ecosystems
    * Math: measuring, spatial awareness in shelter building, creating a currency and playing “store”, basic math and counting for various projects/activities
    * Fine arts: performances organized by kids/teens, nature-inspired art, wildcrafting, campfire cooking, singing and music, whittling,
    * Language: nature journaling, story telling, inquiries, conversations, reading
    * Physical education: running, balancing, climbing, building
    * Health: Learning how to dress for the weather and how to avoid hyper/hypothermia, learning basic first aid, tuning into the bodies need for food or water, mindfulness, yoga, breathwork
    * Social studies: discussion and play involving geography, cultures, history of the land, and environments

*Please note that we provide enrichment and supplementation to your homeschooling or other schooling experience, but are not an accredited school or an educational institution. When parents file their letter of intent to homeschool, they take full responsibility for their child(ren)’s education and for producing a portfolio at the end of the year that outlines their child(ren)’s progress in each subject. We provide weekly emails that discuss what types of learning is happening and parents are welcome to use this information in their child’s portfolio.

  • What is Aftercare?
    Aftercare is available for an additional cost from 2:30 to 5pm following the Nature Immersion program. Children and teens will have more time exploring outside, practicing wilderness skills, working on self-created projects, or just having fun with friends! There is a minimum of 5 participants needed to run aftercare for each day.
  • Do you have a Handbook for me to review?
    Yes, we do! Click here to view our Handbook

GEAR and WEATHER

  • What do you do when it rains or it’s really cold?
    ~We play! We find that as long as children are dressed properly, they will happily play outside in almost any type of weather. It’s important that children have good waterproof clothing and footwear and have adequate backup clothing packed. The woods provide shelter from the elements, and we have large tarps that we put up to provide extra protection from pouring rain, wind and shade on extra hot days. Many of the children  build their own shelters during our programs and like to spend time in them as well. We also build a campfire and make hot tea on cooler/rainy days. For our youngest children in Maple, we have a yurt with woodstove available to take a break from the elements if needed.
    ~We will provide a detailed clothing list to help make sure your child is properly prepared for all weather.
    ~If travel on roads is unsafe or temperatures are extremely cold, programs may be cancelled.
  • Do you use knives or tools in this program?
    Yes, participants may use knives, small folding saws and other tools with supervision and instruction from our guides. Our experienced and attentive staff have successfully taught children as young as five to safely and responsibly use knives and tools. Our youngest participants start out doing cooperative projects with an adult or teen mentor and gain independence as they show their ability to follow the rules and maintain safety. We find that when kids are tasked with taking responsibility during a higher risk activity, they rise to the occasion and display more self-control and focus than they are normally capable of.
  • Does my child/teen need any special gear for this program?
    Yes! It is important and required that every participant is properly clothed so they are comfortable and safe in our outdoor environment. We offer a seasonal gear and clothing list so you can make sure your child/teen has what they need. 

FOOD

  • What are good food options for my child?
    Kids are very active throughout the day and eat a lot of food. Please pack extra snacks and lunch. Good snack & lunch options are foods with healthy fats and protein like avocado, nut/seed butter, nuts, trail mix, cheese, jerky, bacon, hard boiled eggs. Try to avoid foods high in sugar, soda, etc.
  • Can my child with food allergies join your program?
    Yes! If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions, please inform Through The Trees staff on your child's registration.
  • Do you provide any food or snacks?
    Due to Covid-19 we paused group cooking, but as regulations have changed for Maine Guides, we may begin to offer some foods cooked over the fire such as applesauce or oatmeal. We also boil hot water to have available for tea or food items from home like noodles and oatmeal. Some kids will also bring items such as hot dogs to roast on a stick over our campfire.

PAYMENT & REGISTRATION

  • Is the Registration Fee refundable? Does it go toward the tuition?
    The registration fee helps to cover administrative time and costs and is not refundable. It does not go toward the cost of tuition.
  • How does the monthly payment work? How do I make this payment?
    On the first of each month the card you used to reserve your child’s spot by paying the registration fee will be charged automatically. 
  • Do you offer any discounts or scholarships?
    Yes! There is 10% OFF total cost when enrolling more than one child/family member. We also have a limited number of scholarships available that offer 25% and 50% off tuition. If you are in need of scholarship support, you can visit our Scholarship Information page and fill out a short form (no personal financial questions are asked).
  • My child is enrolled on Mondays. If we miss a day, can my child make up that day by attending the program on a Wednesday (or vice versa)?
    Unfortunately, due to the nature of our program and our program capacity we are not able to accommodate make up days in this way.
  • What if I need to unenroll my child from the program before the end of the school year?
    If you need to unenroll your child during the summer session, we ask for 30 days notice by emailing transform@throughthetrees.org and we cannot guarantee a spot will be available if you want to re-enroll.

COVID-19 PROTOCOL

  • What is your protocol for COVID-19?
    We have thoroughly reviewed the State recommendations for COVID-19 and are putting the following protocols in place. Fortunately, our program is completely outdoors with little to no surface contact, and based on current research, transmission is rare in outdoor spaces. Please be aware that our COVID policies may change at any time based on State requirements and what we feel best supports our participants and staff.
    • Youth participants are not required to wear a face covering, however those who wish to wear one will be supported.
    • Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations are available for use at each camp and bathroom.
    • We will modify our drop off-and pick-up systems to allow space between families.
    • We have a minimal-surface outdoor bathroom facility with hand sanitizer.
    • Circle times or when larger groups are together will allow space between participants.
    • We will recommend tools and materials for you to purchase that your child can bring to minimize sharing of these items.
    • We ask that parents monitor their child’s health. If they feel sick or have had a fever or any symptoms of sickness in the last 24 hours or if they have been exposed or potentially exposed to Covid-19, please do not bring your child/teen to the program. We ask you to err on the side of caution, and we are employing an honor system in regards to monitoring your family's health.
    • Staff will wear a mask and gloves to administer first-aid to your child, if first-aid is needed.
  • I have more questions. Who do I contact?
    We are happy to answer your questions! Please email transform@throughthetrees.org or text us at 207-712-4625. If you would like to speak with us, we are happy to schedule time to talk.