What is forest school anyway?

For the duration of the school year, White Pine hosts a program called Ways of the Wild (WoW for short!) at Zacharias’ Family Farm in York, Maine. The program is designed for ages 7 – 14 and runs both Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm. WoW families integrate a day (or two) of Ways of the Wild into their children’s public, private or homeschool schedule, reporting that it makes a significantly positive impact on their learning, growth and development. We have families who come from as far north as Freeport and as far south as Boston for this special program!

While the WoW day’s curricular focus includes developing traditional outdoor survival skills, honing naturalist knowledge, learning about the various ecosystems at the farm, and building self-care routines, the days are centered on learning about what it means to be honest, compassionate, respectful and responsible humans.

Becoming part of the WoW community includes participating in group work projects that support farmer Abe Zacharias, and stewardship projects on this 250+ acre ‘classroom’ made up of farm fields, woodlands, ponds and a tidal brook. Opportunities to develop leadership skills abound and as the sessions pass, so grows student confidence in themselves.

Children are immersed in seasonal change–feeling the dampness of the salt marsh on the autumn breeze, smelling the first hint of snow in early winter, hauling heavy buckets of Sugar Maple sap to boil each spring, and listening for the migrating songbirds to return to the farm.

Coupled with this nature immersion are mindful mentoring practices such as sit spot, nature journaling and sharing gratitude to build awareness of place, self and each other. Walking barefoot in a stream, smelling the moist air of the salt marsh and listening hard enough to identify the different calls of the birds surrounding us engages our senses – a practice that builds our awareness of place, self, and each other.

Educators foster curiosity through natural mysteries discovered and questions posed that engage students and build on existing knowledge, while helping them understand how to use resources such as field guides and wildflower and tree identification tools.

Traditional skills such as carving tools, foraging for edible plants, and wildlife tracking are woven throughout the curriculum, with origin stories presented as part of the lesson.
Our approach to intergenerational programming inspires respect and caretaking of Program Elders, who bring with them wisdom, stories and survival challenges to be accomplished over weeks or months. Program Elders bring in elements of art, music, and mapping to round out the curriculum for each season.

Woven through all our activities is PLAYFULNESS! Structured, experiential learning opportunities are blended with unstructured play to honor children’s need to feel a sense of personal agency, to independently work on a project or just enjoy the company of their friends and mentors. Group sizes are kept small to ensure personalized attention.

If your family is seeking opportunities for your child to build their problem solving and relationship building skills, expand their creativity, experience teamwork and strengthen their personal leadership, WoW is the program that does all of that.

We have spaces available for WoW, which starts the first week in October. You can register at this link, learn more about program specifics like dates and cost on our website, or, if you’d just like to have a conversation with one of our program managers, please email or call our office at 207-361-1911.

Interested in Volunteering at White Pine Programs?

Volunteer Spotlight – Cindie Collins –

After retiring from massage therapy and teaching, Cindie Collins was restless and wanted to find something to keep her internal fire burning.

Lo and behold, she stumbled into White Pine Programs while running the Mt. Agamenticus trails near her home. She was curious about what the kids were doing and asked her neighbor, Amy Beal, about the programs.

And just like that, Cindie began her volunteer journey with White Pine in 2018 at Ways of the Wild, our forest school that runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, October through June.

“In the beginning, it was a scary thought, being outside all day – regardless of the weather. But it’s not bad; in fact it’s awesome! It’s been a very gratifying experience in all ways: freedom, learning, exploring and a high level of caring for all things that are living.”

Cindie has learned a lot from both the kids and staff since those early days: self care, leadership, managing her “edges” and so much more. Today, Cindie can be found exploring the forests and fields of Zach’s Farm with the kids each week during Ways of the Wild.

Thank you, Cindie, for your continued commitment of volunteer service to White Pine! You make a difference!!