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. Interview w/ 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.
Interview w/ a Mentor: In place of the qualifying challenges or application process done in past seasons we've decided to keep things very simple. Towards the end of each season of our weekly homeschool programs one of our Field Mentors will provide each Sapling the opportunity to personally express their genuine desire for the next-level of challenge the Oaks group offers. If they sincerely state their interest, one of the Oaks mentors will have a simple interview with that child to determine whether they are truly ready to join the Oaks. If the mentor agrees that the Sapling is ready, the child's parents will be informed and invited to register for the Oaks group the following season.
In the event that our mentors decide that a child is not yet ready to join the Oaks, the child will be kindly provided a simple explanation as to why, along with specific areas of growth they can focus on in the coming season. In the next season that child will be supported in the Sapling group to develop the skills and/or character traits they'll need to eventually grow into 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