Forest Caterpillars 2017 Information Letter

Greetings and Welcome!

Thank you for registering your child for Forest Caterpillars 2017-2018!  You can rest assured that your child’s year will be full to the brim with fun, discovery and connection to the natural world.

At Wild Intelligence, we believe in the value of mentoring in nature. Thank you for the opportunity to work with your child during this school year.  We don’t take your trust in us lightly.  To us, relationships are at the center of our work – with you as parents, with your children, and with the natural world.  We consider ourselves mentoring partners with you and we hope this letter begins a connection that is more than just need-to-know information.  Rather, we want this to be the beginning (or continuation) of a community of support as your child grows and develops.

We can’t wait to see the sparkle in your children’s eyes as they return home at the end of the day, full of wonder and appreciation for nature and community!  We can’t wait for all the stories and adventures that await!

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** This letter has been recently updated. It provides new and important information that you will need in order to prepare your child for the program. Please read it thoroughly! **

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If after reading this letter you still have questions, please call:

If you need further assistance, please contact our Program Director, Sarah Hubbard, at sarah@wildintelligence.org or (706) 255-8937. We request that you limit calls and texts to weekdays 8 AM to 6 PM, except in case of emergency.

When:

  • Forest Caterpillars After School Program runs Mondays, 3:30pm-6:00pm .
  • Forest Caterpillars Home School Program runs Tuesdays, 9:30am-2:30pm.

Program Dates can be found on our website Calendar: https://www.wildintelligence.org/calendar/ you will also receive an invitation to a google calendar for your program that you can easily import into your own calendar.

Where:

This year we are delighted to offer our Forest Caterpillar After School program at McBride Family Farm, and our Forest Caterpillar Homeschool program at Earthsong.

AFTER SCHOOL Program at McBride Family Farm HOME SCHOOL Program at Earthsong

is located at: is located at:

64 Beaver Trail 255 Chulitna Way

Watkinsville, GA Bogart, GA 30622

Directions to McBride Family Farm from Athens: Take Lexington Hwy out of downtown Athens heading towards Athens’ East Side.  Turn left on Robert Hardeman, then right onto Beaver Dam Road.  Beaver Trail will be the first road on your right.  Turn into the drive and follow the signs indicating where to drop off children.

Directions to Earthsong from Athens: Drive west on 129 until 330, take a left on 330. Pass Tallassee Rd and continue on 330. Take the next left, Savage Rd, just pass the bridge crossing the Middle Oconee River. The left turn onto Big Bear Rd comes a short ways after getting on Savage. Take a left on Big Bear and drive until the road is blocked, take the driveway to the left.

Drop-off and Pick-up:

Drop-off…

Drop-off is at 9:30am for our home school program and at 3:30pm for our after school program. Our Staff will greet you and will have a sign-in sheet for you. Please sign your child in every time.  Please do your best to arrive on time each day.  If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late or your child is not coming please contact Bernard Cook at (706)340-8549 as soon as possible. This helps us manage the flow of the day and allows the rest of the campers maximum woods time.  

Pick-up…

Please arrive to pick up and sign your child out  on time.  This is 6:00pm for the after school program and 2:30pm for the home school program.

No Early Arrival/Late Pickup…

Please know that although our staff are on-site both before and after the sign-in and sign-out times, they are not available to supervise children outside of the arrival and pickup times indicated above. This time is used for program planning and debrief, and it is critical to us being able to provide each individual camper and the group with the best day possible.  We acknowledge that this can be a challenge for working parents and appreciate your understanding.

Sign-In and Sign-Out…

It is our policy that each child participant be signed in every morning, and signed out every afternoon! Please make sure that everyone who is authorized to drop off or pick up your child during the week is aware of the need to do this! Sign-in each morning will be on a clip-board that one of our instructors will be holding. Please make a note if your child is going home with someone else!

Inclement Weather:
Our programs take place outside. We do have access to a home on the property. If the weather becomes temporarily unsafe, we will wait it out there. It’s a great time for stories and games!  Occasionally the weather does take a harsher turn and we have to cancel our programs.  We watch the weather closely and will notify you the evening before if we are going to have to cancel a day.  We take cancelling our programs very seriously and ONLY do it if we believe the weather is going to put your children in an unsafe environment – meaning tornadoes, heavy thunder and lightning, high winds or extreme cold.  Rain is something we can contend with and is often fun!

What to Pack:

Please send the following items with your child in a small backpack. DO NOT send your child to program with a bag on wheels or a satchel they have to carry over one shoulder. We often ramble widely across the land, and these lead to unhappy campers, unhappy groups, and unhappy staff.

  • Nutritious Sack lunch if in the Home School Program.
  • Snack
  • FULL 1 Liter water bottle. It is very important to have a minimum of 1 full liter of water. Please double check this every day!
  • Personal supply of sun block if appropriate for the weather – While our instructors will do their best to monitor and remind campers about application, it is very helpful if children of a reasonable age are able to monitor and help themselves.
  • Bug repellent (herbal-based, as opposed to DEET-based, is strongly encouraged)
  • A baggie with toilet paper and hand sanitizer
  • Close-toed sandals or water shoes are ideal for water play (shoes are required for water play)

What NOT to Pack:

    • Electronics
    • Toys of any kind as they can create conflicts among participants and often get lost in our travels and wanderings
    • Excessive sugary snacks or “energy drinks” and sodas
    • A change of clothes – extra layers/rain gear are fine if necessary but please do not pack a change of clothes for after program in their backpack. Keep these (or garbage bags for your muddy child to sit on) in your car.
  • Open-toed shoes or sandals, or flipflops

 

  • Extra items of any sort. We will be covering a fair bit of ground on foot each day, and heavy backpacks become a challenge for all. Bring what you need and need what you bring.

What Your Child Should Wear:

Appropriate clothing can make an outdoor experience.  Poor clothing can break it, or become outright dangerous. We reserve the right to send campers home if inadequate clothing for the weather is an issue.

In general, clothing should be loose and comfortable, able to get very wet and dirty, and appropriate for the weather.  Pants, rather than shorts can be helpful if one is new to off-trail hazards such as briers, insects, poison ivy, etc.

    • Cotton and thin synthetics are fine in the warmer months when hypothermia is less of an issue. They breathe well, and are naturally cooling.
  • Sturdy, close-toed sandals, shoes or light boots – no open toed shoes or sandals  

 

  • Rain coat or poncho if rain is in the forecast
  • Campers must wear shoes in the water. If wearing shoes that don’t get wet well, it is helpful to have water shoes or close-toed sandals with a heel strap. Flip flops, open-toed sandals, and sandals that have no heel strap are not allowed

What to Expect:

Groupings…

We group children into clans. A clan is much like a family within the tribe and your child will spend much time with her clan. When making clan assignments, we consider many factors including age, experience in nature, experience in Wild Intelligence, energy, interests, existing relationships with mentors and other children, and more. We consider each child as an individual and we also consider the bigger pictures for each clan and Wild Play as a whole. This is part of “meeting them where they are” and allows our mentors to create the most positive experience for each clan.

If you have already requested that your child be placed with a friend, we will consider this when creating the groups, but we are not able to meet every request. Please understand that we do our best, but sometimes there are other factors that take priority. Requests for children of significantly different ages to be grouped together will not be accommodated, nor will requests made on the first day of a program.

By the first day of program, we will know who is in which clan, and you’ll be able to meet your child’s Lead Mentor.

Daily Schedule…

Our days will generally look like this:

  1. We will gather just beyond the parking area until we are all there – possibly play some games
  2. As a big group, travel to our central meeting spot to share gratitude and tell stories which often sets a theme for the day
  3. Split into our clans (which are generally age-based), each with a Lead Mentor and then we wander on the land, doing activities, playing games, exploring mysteries, learning skills, or having adventures (everyday is quite different in this regard)
  4. Gathering back up as a big group to share stories and highlights from the day with each other
  5. At times, we shake things up and do things completely differently with whole-group days, or other fun, rut-busting activities

Dirty Clothes….

At Wild Intelligence we encourage campers to really connect with the natural world! Often that means getting right in  – be it mud, charcoal or berry-juice face paint. Don’t be surprised to see children and adults with dirty faces at the end of the day. Please send your child to camp in clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Keeping some large trash bags in the car for kids to sit on at the end of the day is a great way to minimize the impact of dirty campers!

Scrapes, Bug-bites, and other small things…

In general, these days, there is a lot of nature-phobia floating around.  Most often it is very exaggerated, and this is in fact one reason that children are not playing outside as much these days.  We’re changing that!  On the first day of Program, we will go over possible hazards, such as ticks, stinging insects, and poison ivy, and what to look for to make sure your child is safe and strong.  Many of our instructors have had Wilderness First Aid training. They all have real-life experience with the hazardous aspects of the natural world and carry first-aid kits. We are always watching out for your child’s safety.

Special note on ticks. It will be very important for your children to be thoroughly checked for ticks each afternoon when they come home. To learn more about removing ticks, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27McsguL2Og .

Parent Survival Kit

We have devoted a section of our website to provide more information that may help you manage your family’s experience with Wild Intelligence. There you will find a copy of this info letter, information about our mentoring model, and our policy around projectile hunting tools, hunting, fishing, and consuming wild plant and animal foods while in program.

This information can be accessed at http://www.wildintelligence.org/parents/.

Parent/Staff Communications:

We encourage our Mentors to get to know our camper’s families and to communicate regularly. We also welcome and invite you to talk with your child’s Lead Mentor regarding your child’s experience in the program.

For immediate contact, attendance notifications, or larger concerns or questions, please call:

If you need further assistance, please contact our Program Director, Sarah Hubbard, at sarah@wildintelligence.org or (706) 255-8937. Please limit calls and texts to between 8 am and 6 pm.

That’s all for now. We pour a lot of heart and soul into making our programs the best nature connection programs we can. I certainly hope this information helps you prepare for the coming year!

We look forward to seeing you this fall!

Sincerely,

Sarah Hubbard, Program Director

Institute for Wild Intelligence

 

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