Rewild Teen Homeschool Program
Wednesdays, September 7–June 7 || 9 am–3 pm || Ages 12–17
Most programming happens at Kelley Point Park and at our Green Anchors campus in North Portland. The year culminates in a weekend campout in late May/early June. Students are dropped off and picked up by parents at various locations, mostly in North Portland.
Our Rewild Teen Homeschool Program provides students with an opportunity to go in depth with various ancestral, outdoor, and naturalist skills. While the emphasis of our youth nature immersion is to play in nature, the emphasis at the teen level is for students to internalize knowledge and develop a deeper connection with nature and place, while also fostering leadership, team dynamics, and a deeper understanding of sustainability and their own role within natural systems. As rewilders, we encourage ethical responsibility towards the natural world and our fellow humans, and with this program we hope to have conversations about what that looks like for our young adults. This 9-month program will culminate in a weekend campout challenge where students can test their skills and abilities.
Our curriculum starts with a focus on the basics and moves to more advanced projects as students gain confidence and display interest in learning specific skills. Our educators are excited to share a variety of outdoor survival skills like shelter building, fire starting, and outdoor preparedness; nature-based crafts such as basketry, fiber crafts, and natural dyes; and naturalist skills like sit spots, journaling, bird language, and sensory awareness. While our Rewild Youth Homeschool Program is geared more towards play, this program has more structure built in for dexterous teens who have more patience and skill with crafting.
In the Bush
The majority of our days are spent “in the bush,” meaning in the places outside of most human control and manipulation. We may spend the day at the wild space of Kelley Point Park (for example), working on wilderness survival skills, ancestral technology, and bushcraft. These are a hands-on kind of day, with crafting, sneaking, and forest adventure.
What Are Wilderness Survival Skills?
Wilderness survival skills are a specific set of skills that are useful in a survival context. Many television shows today often conflate wilderness survival with ancestral technology because producers (and even practitioners) do not understand the appropriate context for the skill. A survival context is when you have been removed from your culture and are in an unfamiliar place with little to nothing and need rescue—for example, you’ve been in a plane crash and are lost in an unfamiliar wilderness. Survival skills can keep you alive long enough for rescue. Survival skills are by definition short-term. You want, and need, to be rescued.
What Is Ancestral Technology?
Ancestral skills are all the elements of culture that help people live in the long run. In contrast to survival, no one living in an ancestral context is in need of rescue, nor are they just “surviving.” Humans who use ancestral technology are often highly adapted to their ecosystem. They live in relative comfort and are not suffering. Ancestral technologies are generally the tools and culture one can create from the land where they live, indefinitely.
What Is Bushcraft?
One of the most important skills is improvisation: being able to use the materials available in any environment, whether “natural” or “synthetic,” to create what you need. We often refer to modern technology as “transition” technology, knowing that while it is available today, in the near future it may not be. Improvisation allows us to blend ancestral technologies with modern technologies. Boulder Outdoor Survival School defines bushcraft as “the skillset used to live in the wilderness using traditional and improvised tools and available natural materials.” Bushcraft differs from “survival” in terms of the context. While survival is about living long enough to be rescued, bushcraft is about choosing to live in the wilderness for as long as your skills can sustain you.
At the Homestead
While most of our days will be spent “in the bush,” we will also spend some of our days “at the homestead.” We will meet at the MudHut or Green Anchors and utilize this urban permaculture homestead, as well as our library, archery range, nursery, and greenhouse just across the way. These days will be spent learning about plants: how to identify them, grow them, and understand their uses, from edible wild and domestic foods, to plant medicine and fiber arts. Knowing how to identify and use plants is not enough to become resilient. We must also learn how they grow and how to tend to them in a regenerative way.
Plant Food and Medicine
At the gardens we will work with both wild and domestic foods, food preservation, and herbalism and plant medicine making. Through teas, salads, salves, and more, students will learn various ways of growing, harvesting, and preparing food and medicine.
While on our “In the Bush” days we focus on woodworking, stone, metal, camping skills, fire, and more, here we focus on fiber arts as ancestral technology, because so much of what we need comes from fiber. This means things like basket weaving and rope making—and we would be remiss if we didn’t add some style natural dyes.
Land-Tending and Horticulture
Learning to grow plants is just as important as knowing how to harvest, prepare, and eat them. Students spend part of the time working with plants in our nursery—the same plants they will be using in the craft portions of class. This way the connection between plant and person is made on a deeper level where students learn to see the plant through its entire life cycle.
Jesse Crossno (he/her, she/him) grew up on Osage land in the Ozarks Plateau. As a child he reveled in frequent field trips to the George Washington Carver National Monument, where he first learned how to process various plants into flour, plant milk, and paper by hand. Relatives taught her how to dowse when she was nine, and he learned that dowsing was statistically ineffective when he earned his sociology BA. Jesse has attended and worked for seven different summer camps across southern Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma, teaching archery, backpacking, firebuilding, canoeing and kayaking, rock climbing, and social-emotional skills to all ages. Moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2020 has given her the opportunity to recontextualize her foraging and naturalist skills for a new bioregion. Given the chance, Jesse will talk your ear off about a wide array of interests—bison reintroduction in the great plains, carbon sequestration, climate-resilient food systems, the development of regional American folklore, neurodiversity, rural-urban queer migration, gender freedom, and social structure among corvids, among other topics. He gets his best sleep in a hammock in the woods.
Peter Michael Bauer has been teaching youth and teen programs for over 20 years, beginning when he was a teenager himself. His background is in inspiring students through the 8 Shields Nature Connection model developed by Jon Young. Over the years 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, avid outdoorsman, and basket maker, Peter also brings many ancestral skills and wilderness skills to the program, helping children learn camp crafts and outdoor knowledge.
Ivy Stovall (she/her) 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.
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 student 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.
Enrollment for 2022–2023
$2,995/year for the full year.
Families who join during the year receive pro-rated tuition based on the number of days remaining in a program year. We have a maximum of 14 students per year. Our teacher to student ratio does not exceed 1:7 but is more often 1:6 or less.
We have minimal scholarships available on a first come first serve basis. Please send us an email if you would like to apply.
1) Monthly automatic payments
2) Pay in full upfront*
*Cancellation and Refund Policy: No refund within 60 days of programming due to cancellation. This gives us adequate time to fill the open space.