Greetings and Welcome!
Thank you for registering your child for Wild Intelligence’s Hawks Afterschool Year Long Mentoring Program!
At Wild Intelligence, we believe in long-term mentoring relationships. Therefore, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with your child over the course of a year, and 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 to be 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!
But for now, some more formal information…
** 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! **
If after reading this letter you still have questions, please call our Program Director, Sarah Hubbard at (706) 255-8937 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that this is her personal cell phone. Please try to limit calls and texts to weekdays 8 AM to 6 PM, except in case of emergency.
The Hawks After School Program is held every Thursday from 4:15pm – 6:45pm, rain or shine, except for holidays/planning days. There are 25 total sessions from Sept. 7, 2017 to April 12, 2018.
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 the Gray Fox Homeschool Program that you can easily import into your own calendar.
The first day of the program is September 7, 2017.
State Botanical Gardens; 2450 S Milledge Ave, Athens, GA 30605
When you arrive at the gardens please take the first drive into the large parking area. Then, turn into the first section of parking spots. Go to the end of it and turn left. One of our mentors will be just past the bus stop waiting for you.
Drop-off and Pick-up:
Drop-off is at 9:30am pm. One of 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 week. 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 participants to maximum woods time.
Please arrive to pick up and sign your child out at 2:30 pm.
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 at drop off, and signed out at pick up. Please make sure that everyone who is authorized to drop off or pick up your child 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 several shelters at the Botanical Gardens. If the weather becomes temporarily unsafe, we will wait it out a shelter. This is 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 try to 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! If we have to cancel more than one class we will make every attempt to offer a makeup day.
What to Pack:
Please send the following items with your child in a small backpack. DO NOT send your child to a 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 children, unhappy groups, and unhappy staff.
** A Note on Knives:
Hawks provides the opportunity to mentor children in the safe and effective use of knives, a fundamental wilderness skill. We have a process in which children get “Knife-Safety Certified.” We provide the knives. Children who have earned certification receive a card to document their achievement, the date to re-certify, and that also lists our knife safety protocols. This allows mentors to know a child is currently certified, reminds the child of the protocols, and informs parents so that they may encourage those protocols at home if they choose. Once a person is knife certified, they are eligible to bring their own knife (subject to our guidelines) to the program. Certification will be rescinded for protocol violations.
**Unless your child is Knife Safety Certified, do not send them to program with any knife, even to just leave in their packs.
To be eligible for knife safety certification, one must be at least 8 years old AND deemed ‘ready’ by the instructing mentor. The most important qualities we look for are a high degree of attention, respect, patience, focus, and ability to follow direction. Next are adequate muscle strength, coordination, and fine motor skill. Lastly, we look for desire and confidence.
Without these qualities, knife use can be frustrating and dangerous. Exceptions regarding age are occasionally made for children who exhibit these traits at a younger age.
Something we often come across in our knife certification is that some children are allowed to use knives at home. THIS IS AWESOME. We still require them to go through our process and follow our rules of knife safety and we acknowledge this may be different than their rules at home. We are very thorough and confident that we set our students up for success with knives. IF your child gets the opportunity to become knife certified at Wild Intelligence we will provide you with all of our information so that you can fully support them in learning to use knives well and wisely alongside of us.
** Wild Intelligence approved knives have:
What NOT to Pack:
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 dirty, and appropriate for the weather. Pants, rather than shorts can be helpful if one is new to off-trail hazards such as briers, poison ivy, etc.
In Warmer Weather…
In Cooler Weather…
What to Expect:
We group children into clans. A clan is much like a family within the tribe and your child will spend most of their day 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 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.
Our days will generally look like this:
***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.
For how we handle Projectile Weapons, Hunting, Processing Animals, and eating Wild Foods please see this section in our parent survival kit as well.
This information can be accessed at http://www.wildintelligence.org/parents/
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 and poison ivy, and what to look for to make sure your child is safe and strong. Most 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.
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. If you have a particular concern (or appreciation!) or want to have a more extended conversation, we request you set-up an appointment in advance.
For immediate contact, attendance notifications, or larger concerns or questions, please call Bernard Cook at (706) 340-8549 or e-mail him at email@example.com
If you need further assistance, please contact our Programs Director, Sarah Hubbard, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 255-8937.
Again we ask that you limit calls and texts to Monday through Friday 8:00am – 6:00pm except in the case of an emergency.
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!
Remember, if you have any questions, please call Bernard (706) 340-8549 or the Wild Intelligence office at (706) 255-8937, weekdays between 8 AM and 6 PM.
We look forward to seeing you this fall!
Sarah Hubbard, Program Director