Rewild Youth Homeschool Program
“Natural play strengthens children’s self-confidence and arouses their senses—their awareness of the world and all that moves in it, seen and unseen.”—Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
Welcome to our nature-immersive Rewild Youth Homeschool Program! This program is a weekly outdoor program for children ages 5 to 11 that runs Thursdays and/or Fridays from September to June. Each Thursday and/or Friday, children spend the day outside in a wild to semi-wild space in Portland. The day is filled with engagement in the natural world and social interaction between peers and skilled mentors of nature and ancestral skills. Because the program takes place on “school days” (Thursdays and Fridays), it is mostly a homeschool supplemental program. However, some of the children in the program are enrolled in regular public school and have agreements with their school that allow them to attend our program (usually on Fridays). Families may sign up for either Thursday (Hearth Day), Friday (Forest Day), or both.
COVID UPDATE: Students will not be required to wear masks this year and leave it as optional for families. However, the future is uncertain. Please keep this in mind when considering the program. Thank you!
Rewild Youth Homeschool Program Details
What We Do
Our educational philosophy can be distilled into five words:
Play together in nature regularly.
We create an “invisible” curriculum that focuses on engagement with the natural world through handwork, journaling, and mostly play. Through self-directed play, children engage with the natural world on their own terms. This is important for them to have an authentic connection to nature; true connection comes from within oneself and not imposed from a teacher. Our skilled mentors keep children safe, cooperative, and create opportunities that appear spontaneous and random to students. We determine how to meet the children where they are and engage them in activities without overtly directing them.
Our mentoring is inspired by hunter-gatherer cultures from around the world, where humans live immersed in nature, and have a deep connection to their place without anything that looks like a school or formal education. In these cultures people are knowledgeable about their place, skilled in the activities of daily life, and deeply connected to one another. Prior to industrialization, this is how most humans were educated. We believe this method to be necessary for holistic human learning. This should be a part of every child’s development.
In the modern world, children and parents alike have been taught to conflate “learning” solely with didactic education of a teacher “teaching.” This means that unless a student is being talked to, given an obvious lesson, they will not perceive their own activities (or those orchestrated by skilled mentors) as “learning.” In this model, it’s common for a child to say or think, “I didn’t learn anything.” This is why coyote mentoring is also known as “invisible education.”
Initially children who are unfamiliar with this model, or who have been part of programs that are full of structure and busy work, may find themselves feeling bored. From our perspective, when a child says “I’m bored” what they are really saying is “Please entertain me.” Studies show that children need to be bored in order for their own creativity to blossom. Put another way, if children are constantly entertained (by television, video games, parents, babysitters, school teachers, soccer coaches, etc.) they never have time for their own mind and creativity to develop. Boredom is not something we “fix,” but rather something we foster. We trust that children will be able to move through their boredom and experience the joy of finding their muse.
We do have more obvious directed play, such as icebreakers, and structured time for things like stories, lunch, specific skill activities (such as knife work, knot tying, etc.). The day is more about flow than structure. Times change and the activities ebb and flow with the energy and direction of the group.
Children Educate Themselves
Children need to be bored in order to inspire creativity
Thursday: Hearth Day
On Thursdays we meet at the MudHut Permakulture Haus in the St. Johns neighborhood. On private property, here we have the ability to hold and use fire for our program. Children will learn how to start and tend a fire, how to cook using fire and coals, and many other fire- or “hearth”-related skills. From this central location, we will walk to the more wild Baltimore Woods Corridor, the well-manicured Cathedral Park (with Willamette River beachfront), and Green Anchors, home of Rewild Portland’s plant nursery and private archery range. At this last location, children will learn gardening and archery skills.
Friday: Forest Day
On Fridays we meet at the Columbia Children’s Arboretum in N. Portland, a large, mostly wild green space. The sheer size of this location allows the children in this program to feel uninhibited by the confines of the urban landscape. Here we are free to roam and play on a level not possible in a backyard or well-manicured park. The diverse and active wildlife and plant species at the arboretum give us an endless classroom for connection and for development of naturalist skills and sensory awareness. In this program we will journal about plants, play large group games, climb trees, collect natural objects for closer study, build forts and bowers, and more.
When We Meet
Our program meets Thursdays and/or Fridays from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, from the second Thursday in September through the second Friday in June (generally following the Portland Public School calendar). Meeting on a regular basis is the main point of this program. Our summer camps are a fantastic introduction to being in nature; this program takes that camp experience as inspiration and makes it a regular event. The Rewild Youth Homeschool Program is a long-term mentoring experience, meant to consistently get children out in the elements, among other-than-human animals and plants, experimenting and playing in these wild spaces.
Where We Meet
On Thursdays we meet at the MudHut Permaculture Kultur Haus in the St. Johns neighborhood in Portland—just adjacent to Cathedral Park under the St. Johns Bridge and near the Baltimore Woods. On Fridays we meet at Columbia Children’s Arboretum. We grow our roots in the same two locations throughout the year. This way, children and families get to experience the transformation of an ecosystem through the seasons. This also allows us the opportunity to spend time stewarding these green spaces and see the positive impacts of tending the wild.
Who We Are
Ivy is the youth program director of Rewild Portland. She delights in the abundance, patterns, and chaos of the natural world and of humanity. So it makes sense that three years into a Biology degree, she flipped majors and earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Humanities at the University of West Florida. Her broad education prepared her perfectly for her work in outdoor education, which she began as a 4H camp naturalist, teaching outdoor skills and elementary and middle school science curriculum in the field. Since then she has taught high and low ropes challenge courses, ESL at all grade levels, and developed a North Portland homeschool co-op and independent art, adventure, and theater camps for kids in her community. These days she lives and works at The MudHut Kulturhaus, her St. Johns urban permaculture homestead, where she shares her enthusiasm for outdoor living and hosts camps, workshops, skillshares, music and theater, women’s groups, and community celebrations and ritual. She likes to always be harvesting and keeps her hands busy making herbal medicines, homebrews and fermentations, botanical inks, dyes and pigments, wild foods, basketry, and natural building. Always a student and always a teacher, Ivy enjoys contributing to and learning from the passionate people of the Rewild Portland community. Many Rewild kids have learned fire and knife skills around The MudHut fire pit and know Ivy as the Echoes in Time kids’ camp coordinator. Ivy loves the creativity, curiosity, and wildness of young people and is dedicated to the work of building healthy intergenerational communities connected to and through the natural world.
Peter Michael Bauer
Peter has been with the Rewild Youth Homeschool Program since 2012. His background is in using the 8 Shields Nature Connection model developed by Jon Young. He has worked with Friends of Tryon Creek, Portland Waldorf School, Cascadia Wild, Shining Star Waldorf, and is the founder of Rewild Portland. An Eagle Scout and avid outdoorsman, Peter also brings many ancestral skills and wilderness skills to the program, helping children learn camp crafts and outdoor knowledge.
Social Guidelines and Policies
Rewild Portland believes that blanket policies regarding behavior for children of different ages and backgrounds results in lost learning experiences. Instead we use developmentally appropriate guidelines and processes based on the needs of both the group as a whole and individuals in order to maintain social cohesion and safety. Every potential family should download and read our guidelines before enrolling in the program. Download it here.
Our staff to student ratio is around 1:6. If a child is unable to participate with the autonomy we give them at this level of supervision and requires more attention from our staff, we cannot accommodate them with this program. In the past we have welcomed children who need more supervision to attend with an aide or helper that is hired independently from Rewild Portland.
1 Day a Week (Thursday OR Friday): $2,500 for the year all at once or spread out over 10 auto-payments of $250 a month.
2 Days a Week (Thursday AND Friday): $5,000 for the year all at once or spread out over 10 auto-payments of $500 a month.
Families who join during the year receive pro-rated tuition based on the number of days remaining in a program year.
1) Monthly automatic payments of $250-$500 for 10 months (Sept-June).*
2) Pay $2,500 or $5,000 in full upfront.*
*Cancellation & Refund Policy: No refund within 60 Days of programming due to cancellation. This gives us adequate time to fill the open space.
How to Join Us Outdoors
To get on our wait list and to receive in invitation to our open house in August for the 2022-23 year, please fill out this pre-application: