Ancestral Skills Summer Camps for Kids in Portland, Oregon
Why send your child to an “ancestral skills” themed summer camp?
It’s like Nature Camp + Art Camp + Archaeology Camp, all in one… It’s awesome!
We believe that environmental education is important for creating a sustainable future. Humans are tool-making animals. We craft the things we need from the natural world. This is how we have participated in nature for 2.5 million years since the beginning of stone tool technology. For the majority of human history, we have created the things we need for our survival from our neighbors: the sand and mud from the beaches, the stones of the mountains, the sticks from the trees, the bones and skins of animals. Using regenerative methods of harvesting, we lived sustainably for a very long time. If we want to teach sustainability we need to participate in nature again, so that we no longer see the separation between “nature” and “humans.” At our camps children re-integrate the human component of participating in nature by making the things we need to live and survive from the elements of the natural world.
At our camps we integrate three focus areas of nature-based education:
Through observation we teach children about the ecology of a place: how to identify wildlife, which direction the sun rises, where and why certain plants like to grow where they do, etc.
Through participation, we connect the children in a fundamentally human way through creating things with our hands out of the natural elements that surround us; cord from plant fiber, knives from stone, containers from animal skin, etc.
Through stewardship, we learn how to go about participating in a way that is regenerative to the things that we take out of the ecosystem for human use; selective harvesting, removal of invasive species, planting seeds, etc.
These three elements when put together create our desired outcome of nature connection. Nature connection goes deeper than having knowledge about nature. It is about a worldview change in which you feel connected to your place on an emotional and spiritual level.
Our curriculum for these three focus points of nature education comes in the form of:
Our camps have nature-based themes: sand & mud, sticks & stones, skin & bones, flint & steel. These themes in and of themselves help to guide the atmosphere of the camp. The theme creates the context of experience. We want the children to experience these elements with human culture in mind, learning about history, prehistory, and archaeology all at the same time. The themes are our way of doing this.
Self-directed play means that children create the kinds of play and the story lines for themselves. In other words, aside from the nature-based themes being a catalyst to direct their play and imagination, we do not make them stick to a certain story or tell them how to play. We let the students do the creating.
Age and Ability-Specific Guided activities
With some of the activities that go along with the themes, we make sure they are age-specific to child development. We recognize that there is a wide range of this, so our age guidelines are not strict, but fall in the general category for child development.
Reflection and Story
Through reflection and questioning we draw out the experiences that our students have throughout the week. This helps to solidify the experience and lessons they have learned by interacting with nature in this way. Full integration through reflection is paramount to making sure their experiences “stick” in their hearts and minds. We really want our students to feel the impact of the week, and having them share their thoughts and stories really help with this.
If you think this sounds like it’s a match for your family, check out our themes below and pick the one that suits you best. Don’t hesitate to call and ask us questions! Please share this with any other friends or families who you think would love to have their children participate in our programs. Note: Siblings close in age may attend the same camp together even if they are not in the age groups, however please contact us first to discuss. [CONTACT] Learn more about our educational philosophy [here].
2019 Rewild Summer Camp (SOLD OUT)
June 24–28 || 9am–3pm
The Mudhut || 6814 N Saint Louis, Portland, OR 97203
$225 || Ages 5-11
Last year we took a hiatus to focus on growing our summer event Echoes in Time. This year we are offering only a single week of camp.
We offer a limited number of scholarships on a first come first serve basis.
We will spend a the early summer days doing an assortment of crafting with natural materials, tending fire, cooking wild-crafted stew & teas, and discovering the ways of enjoying the beauty of the outdoors in the late spring and early summer. Sign up quick, we have a 12 child Limit! This makes for a 1:6 staff to student ratio which we believe is the ideal.
Past Camp Themes
(Returning in 2020)
Sand and Mud (Ages 5-6*)
Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm.At the Sand and Mud camp, young children get to explore natures softer side and begin to feel comfortable in the outdoors. We get dirty, build sand castles, and feel the water of a river on our toes. This is the first step in being comfortable outdoors: getting dirty. Beyond simply getting dirty, we make a game of it! Location:Columbia Children’s Arboretum, NE Portland OR. Cost: $225 for the week.
Sticks and Stones (Ages 7-9*)
Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm. At the sticks and stones camp, children will make digging sticks, discoidal flake stone “knives”, throw rabbit sticks in a rabbit stick range, build a stick shelter similar to a wikiup, and other random play with stick and stones. Location: Columbia Children’s Arboretum, NE Portland OR. Cost: $225 for the week.
Skin and Bones (Ages 8-10*)
Monday, Wednesday to Friday, 9am to 3pm. At the Skin and Bones camp, children will make bone awls and needles and then stitch together a leather possibilities pouch. Throughout the week we will play with bones and skulls. We may make bone jewelry, stew delicious bone broth, play music with a deerskin drum, make glue from a rawhide, spin rope from a tanned skin, or many of the amazing things you can do with skin and bones. Location:Columbia Children’s Arboretum, NE Portland OR. Cost: $180 for the week.
Warp & Weft (Ages 9-11*)
Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm. At our Warp and Weft camp, children will learn the various ways that humans have woven together baskets and other kinds of weaving for gathering berries, building forts, and trapping fish. We will craft basket from the materials available to us in the forest: invasive species. We will learn knife safety and basic wood carving techniques. Location:Columbia Children’s Arboretum, NE Portland OR. Cost: $225 for the week.