Youth Programs

Upcoming Youth Programs

Children's Programs

Roots has a variety of programs for children year round. We have a couple Summer Day Camps, a school year one day a week homeschool program, and weekend classes such as Children’s Bow Making. We also have family events that are all ages such as the Family Survival Weekend and the Roots Rendezvous.

Teen Programs

Every year we pick a theme and run a week long overnight based on those skills. From building your own wooden bow, to survival skills, to stealth and awareness, to this summers Teen Wilderness Exploration And Leadership Program. Also, as always teens are welcome to join in on all ages events such as the All Ages Fire Class and the Roots Rendezvous.

Our Teaching Philosophy

Over the years there are several ideas that have become core to our youth programming:

  • Relationship to our natural landscape. It is fundamental to a person’s growth to form a real and lasting relationship with the natural landscape. For youth, this begins by having fun, playing, interacting, and exploring in the wild. Over the years these interactions will inspire and grow a solid ecological literacy that will foster a deep land ethic. It is imperative to our future to raise people with not only a love of the natural world, but who also  have a rich understanding and knowledge of it.
  • Meeting challenges. Growing our innate problem solving abilities, persistence and perseverance, self-confidence, as well as a passion for learning, are all elevated by being challenged. Learning to learn from failure is a key element to all of the skill sets we teach and we find this to be tremendously important in the development of strong and flexible character. Our goal is to create students empowered to learn whatever they desire, to know that with hard work, practice, and the right resources, they are capable of exploring the things that awe and inspire them.
  • Encouraging curiosity. The desire to know, to understand, and to grow is a tremendous force that is often atrophied in highly structured programs. Although we carefully design our programs, a part of that design is allowing students to follow their passions, engage in self directed learning, and make real choices that effect their learning. In our experience, students are never more engaged, focused, and productive, then when they have a personal investment in learning driven by personal passion
  • Play and Imagination. We walk a delicate balance between allowing youth to approach learning in a serious way, and acknowledging the natural power of play and imagination. Most young mammals explore their world and learn the skills that will keep them alive through the vehicle of play. Although we do not focus our days around games and listening to stories, they are powerful tools that make learning effortless, unseen, and effect us to our cores. The best games and stories are often the ones the students create to meet their own needs. The games and stories of childhood are with most of us for the rest of our lives. The times that stuck with us, the lessons that mattered most, were often learned in play or through story.
  • Strengthening Communication. Through team work and cooperation students learn self-expression and awareness of others people needs. We strongly encourage students to strengthen the community through honest communication and find it to be one of the most important skills that a human being can posses. If you can communicate about and with the things you love; your family, your friends,  yours passions and dreams then you can grow those relationships.  It is important to us that our students do not feel the need to fit any certain mold, and being able to speak your mind is an important part of being yourself in a group. Community for us is built through honest communication and the sharing of fun, hard work, challenges, successes and failures, and of course, a common goal.

It is our hope that through our programs children and teenagers grow. With growth we look for better, not perfect. We want our students to “Be more awesome.”

Safety First!

When your child is with us, we understand their safety is our first responsibility and we take that seriously. One of the first things we do with every new group is to teach hazard awareness of the landscape that is our classroom such as poison ivy, ticks, spiders, etc.  We follow a safety protocol regarding the use of all sharp or edged tools. All students are require to pass a safety test specific to that tool (knife, saw, awl, etc.) before using it, and all tools are used under supervision.  This is true for other risk oriented activities that involve risk such as tree-climbing, or making and using throwing sticks or atl-atls and archery. 

Since accidents can happen, at every program there is at least one staff member present in each group who has current wilderness medical training. Our staff carries radios, and when applicable cell phones and all of our locations are close enough to not be considered “back country”.  There is no deep water swimming at Roots, any water activities are carefully supervised in wading deep streams and small rivers. We take pride in creating a safe environment for our students to experience the growth and self-discovery that comes from taking risks.

All of this being said you kids may come home with the occasional minor cut, bruise, scrape, or burn. Running and playing, hiking in the woods, and learning to use tools all come with natural consequences. As much as we address risk management, we cannot let the kids enjoy the natural world with out being exposed to minor risks. It is pushing up against minor risks that allows them to learn the natural consequence of not being careful with their bodies.

“The lack of structured dogma and ideology, allows for a freedom to explore and relate to nature in an individual way.  This supports a life long connection and love of nature.   I do not want others telling my kiddos how to feel and experience Nature. 

I love that my kids get to get experience nature with leaders that are absolutely passionate about nature, wilderness skills, herbs, organic art and whole foods.  Harmon has learned so much without the obvious “teaching” moments. Harmon is treated like a fellow naturalist rather than a child in a program with an agenda.

I choose Roots because the leaders come to it with their own passions- art, herbs, skills and share this with the kids.  Each leader has their own personality and way of approaching the group that is genuine and real.  I like that Roots isn’t dumbed down because the audience is under 14 but their age and attention span is honored and games are played, fart jokes are told and star wars is loved.

I find the leaders model and incredible lack of judgement, open mindedness and tolerance.  I see how Harmon as picked up on that as well.”

Erin, VT

“I found and fell in love with the philosophy of the ROOTS School program for my 12yr old son as he struggled with anxiety and self identity among his peers within the structure of the public school system. The ROOTS staff and outdoor environment gave my boy the opportunity to learn through his interests and  value his personal  strengths and interests.

 

The diversity among his peers at ROOTS added to lessons of tolerance in his development from within a natural social setting which he was able to carry away from the woods and into his life and later years.

 

I tell people about the day my boy did not want to get out of bed and I dragged him to the open house. I tell people about how he was awed by the staff and fact that he was encouraged to take off his shoes and climb trees and throw sticks and practice self defense… I tell people about the time he came home thrilled to share the experience of sit spot and of a bird landing close enough to touch. In all honesty and in the right circle, I tell people that ROOTS saved and gave me my son back. I tell people that I am forever indebted to the men and women at ROOTS who tolerated, nurtured and supported my son and family. “
Gail, VT

“I just wanted you to know what an amazing experience my daughter, Sarah, had at “Way Of The Bow”. Her bow was far beyond what we expected. All I can say is Wow!  It’s fast, silent and accurate. She will definitely be back.”

Lisa, VT