The Acorns group is an excellent place for your children to begin their nature-connection journey. This introductory period is a rich and sweet time of learning and growth, lasting several years, and laying the foundations for greater challenges to come.
The Saplings is the next stage of that progression. As your children grow and mature in their nature-connection journey they'll be presented with a deepening inquiry and increased challenge.
Admission into the Acorns and Saplings group is based primarily on age, with some consideration going towards experience for children age 8 (8 year olds must have attended Acorns at least once before joining the Saplings).
In our efforts to best meet the needs of the ever-maturing youth we work with, we now offer an Oaks option at some of our programs. The intention of the Oaks group is to provide an opportunity for long-time students to continue challenging themselves in a group of peers who share their level of ability and passion for learning.
Please keep in mind this is in its developmental stage. We've made some changes since last season, and may make further adjustments before the beginning of the season, or even once the season has begun.
Admission into the Oaks
There are two main factors in determining whether a child can join the Oaks group. These are:
1. Age and Experience
2. Invitation from a Mentor
NOTE: Any child who has previously attended Oaks automatically qualifies for re-admission.
Age and Experience: For a child to be considered for the Oaks group they must be age 9.5 - 13, have completed one of our programs at least twice before, and have been involved with Forest Floor for at least one full year.
Invitation from a Mentor: In place of the qualifying challenges, application processes, or interviews with a mentor as has been done in past seasons we've decided to keep things very simple. Forest Floor mentors are always monitoring our students and assessing their development and abilities in both our curriculum and the more subtle cultural elements of the programs. It often becomes very apparent to the mentors when a child is ready to progress to the Oaks group. They display a core competency in the fundamental skills we teach(fire-making, crafting, wild plant ID, animal tracking and ID, etc.), an enthusiasm for going deeper in those skills, and a base-level understanding of and respect for the cultural values that create the context for the group experience(e.g. listening in a group circle, sharing gratitude, working as a team, being respectful, participating in activities, etc.).
We recognize that all children are on their own trajectory in terms of development in these areas, and it cannot simply be judged by age or time with the programs. We ask parents to please trust that Forest Floor staff are carefully monitoring your child, and when/if they are ready we will contact you with an invitation to join the Oaks.
What makes an Oak an Oak?
This is a great question, and one we take very seriously. One of the primary distinctions between Oaks and other groups is the children's ability to be self-directed in their learning.
There is an expectation that Oaks both stay engaged in the group process while simultaneously having the freedom to pursue their individual interests. Oaks have a baseline level of proficiency in the outdoor skills we teach(fire-making, shelter building, moving silently, etc.), a solid foundation of the naturalist knowledge we impart(wild edible & medicinal plant ID, animal track & sign, bird language, etc.) and an enthusiasm for the cultural elements we embody(singing, story-telling, listening intently, etc.). In addition to possessing these baseline proficiencies, Oaks are both capable and excited to teach younger students some of these fundamental skills.
Underlining all these qualities is an eagerness and curiosity that compels them into greater learning.
Acorns, Saplings, & Oaks Group Details