Youth Nature Immersion FAQs
PROGRAM CONTENT and APPROACH
- What is the nature immersion program?
Through The Trees nature immersion programs for ages 4-17 take place on our 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
* Math: measuring, spatial awareness in shelter building, creating a currency and playing “store”
* Fine arts: performances organized by kids/teens, nature-inspired art, wildcrafting, campfire cooking, singing, whittling
* Language: nature journaling, story telling, inquiries, conversations
* 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 and breathwork
* Social studies: discussion and play involving geography, cultures, history of the land, and environments
What is Aftercare?
Aftercare is available for an additional cost from 2:30 to 5:30pm 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!
GEAR, WEATHER and SAFETY
- 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 and wind and to provide 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.
We will provide a detailed clothing list to help make sure your child is properly prepared for all weather.
We do occasionally have a weather cancellation if the conditions pose a significant safety risk (high winds, thunderstorms, extreme heat index etc...) Please see our handbook for more information about our cancellation policy.
- 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.
- What about ticks?
Unfortunately, ticks and tick-borne illnesses are part of our current reality here in Maine. We are doing our best to mitigate the risk of tick bites so we can enjoy the natural world in the least anxious way possible.
We use several tick mitigation strategies:
1)Tick tubes placed strategically around the property
2) Regular, professional application of an all natural, essential-oil based tick spray in high use areas
3) We recommend all participants use a tick repellent, tuck pant legs into socks and do thorough tick checks each day (we make time for tick checks during the program as well)
- 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?
We will do some campfire cooking with kids throughout the program, but participants are expected to arrive with all the food they need to get through each day.
PAYMENT and 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.
- Is your deposit refundable?
The deposit paid at the time of registration is non-refundable. The amount of the deposit varies and is based on the number of days per week and number of months of enrollment.
- 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 some scholarships available. If you are in need of scholarship support, please fill out a scholarship application BEFORE you register.
If you are awarded a scholarship, you will receive a coupon code to enter on your registration order form. You will still be asked to pay a deposit, and the scholarship will be applied to your final payment total.
- 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 is your cancellation policy? If you cancel 14 days or more before the start of the program you will receive a full refund for any payments, minus your non-refundable registration fee and deposit. We will not be able to provide refunds for cancellations less than 13 days before the start of the program.
- We ask that parents monitor their children’s health by taking their temperature and checking for symptoms at home. 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.
I have more questions. Who do I contact?
We are happy to answer your questions! Please email email@example.com or text us at 207-712-4625. If you would like to speak with us, we are happy to schedule time to talk.