Archive for the ‘Whole Earth Homeschool’ Category

Hello All!

The Amazing Micro Scouts are seeking a few more intrepid explorers age 4-6 to join their crew!

The class is scheduled to run with a focus on Quaker Brook and our Fridays will be filled with eco-games and explorations to build a sense of comfort in the natural world… We’ll be tracking along the water’s edge, learning about the animals and their homes, sharing water stories from around the world, creating nature crafts that float and fly, making maps, learning lostproofing techniques to keep us safe and found in the big outdoors… guaranteed to be tons of learning, play and fun!


I’ll be doing an info-session this coming Tuesday, April 5th at 10am for anyone interested… If you’d like to see the facilities or have questions regarding the program, this would be a great opportunity.  If you’re debating whether or not to enroll, now is the time! All Whole Earth Families are welcome to attend and please pass this message along to anyone you feel might be interested.

Please let me know if you plan to join us and wear sturdy shoes for short hike around the beautiful property!

Thank you all so much!

Eva Rupert
Whole Earth Homeschool Program Coordinator
Great Hollow Wilderness School YMCA



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Here is a peek at the varied and valuable learning objectives for the upcoming Wilderness Skills semester. This class just gets better and better! These are skills not just for the wild, but for living a strong, capable life during times of change, uncertainty, and disconnection.

*Wilderness Skills is for serious students with a maturity level that can safely handle these topics. Ages 12-17.*

Advanced knife techniques–  ever hear that the only thing you really need in the wilderness in order to survive is a knife? Learn carving techniques that will make your knife able to cut down trees,  slice 1/2” sticks in half easily,  and manufacture all the things you need quickly,  safely and easily. Knife technique and safety in-depth.
Includes- sharpening, oiling, proper grip, thumb pushing, back hand pull cut, feather stick cutting, sapling bend cut,  limb removal,  chiseling, boring.

Animal food– Trapping/hunting education for sustenance:  focusing on animal life cycle, behavior and physiology of the following animals: Deer, rabbit, squirrel, coon, and trout.  Snares,  deadfalls, and basket traps will be learned in-depth by safety trapping these animals on their natural routes with hand crafted equipment.  Also setting up hunting areas and learning to choose what areas are most productive and when. Local laws, hunting regulations and resources will be referenced. Snares/deadfalls placement and strategy,  fishing traps,  deer hunting preparation, catch and release fishing with minimalist equipment.

Projectiles- Throwing stick use and practice,  and archery refinement,  as well as a one day crossbow.

Throwing, stalking,  seeing, and hitting the mark

Advanced fire making- learn to make fires faster,  more easily,   and under more severe conditions.  I’ve learned a lot of new things that I can’t wait to share! Make a fire in five minutes with a 2” diameter stick and a match (no tinder),  Bow drill revisited and understood.

Food/Medicine prep–  The Big Four survival plants inside and out –  all medicine/food//utilitarian uses of quercus, pinacea, typha, and grasses(including phragmites,  etc.) will be covered.  Ever eat grass roots? These pants are listed as the most important survival plants to know.  Steamed grass roots/stems,  oak bark flour,  uses for tannic acids,  pine bark flour,  pitch gum, pine needle tea recipes, cattail stalks, hand drill,  pollen, pain killer.

Survival Medicine,  study on common wilderness maladies and their wilderness cures such as gastro-intestinal complaints, poisoning, common injuries,  fever,  headaches,  dehydration,   hypo/hyperthermia.

Students should please bring: knife w/sheath (available for $12 via North Wood Traditional Archery LLC),  wood matches, fish hooks and line, glass bottles, bandannas, binoculars (if available),  extra layers, hat, extra wool socks.  notebook, extra pencils/pens, swim suit (and the regular items required for Great Hollow Days, please refer to Director or Policy Document.)

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Photo credit: Colin Cooke

Photo credit: Colin Cooke

Photo credit: Colin Cooke

Witch Hazel blossoms, harvested by the Jr. Naturalists

The start of the leaf changing

Barberry with fruits

White Willow Tree

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Howdy Folks of Great Hollow,

I’m Daniel Quiray, and this spring I’ll be helping Greg with teaching the Wilderness Skills Class.  For over a decade I’ve been actively involved in learning, practicing, and teaching “primitive” skills, the skills that indigenous people worldwide have used to live for thousands of years.  In particular the physical technologies and gathering of plant materials have interested me and consumed many hours of my time.  I also spend a lot of time foraging, kayaking, and exploring, on top of reading and writing and occasionally making my own hair-gel (after all, not all of wilderness living is subsistence).

As a recent graduate of Rhode Island College’s School of Anthropology, I gained invaluable experience and insight into the traditional lifeways of indigenous people throughout the world, but especially those in our own backyard.  This education has dovetailed nicely with my long held interest in primitive and wilderness living, as well as my belief that living sustainably and in tune with our landbases is important not only for our own satisfaction but for the freedom and wellbeing of the rest of our human and non-human relations.

I see these skills as the base, the roots, that allows us to create cultures in tune with the rest of the world, cultures in which people live freely.  From these roots we can grow a healthy tree.  I’m very glad to have the opportunity to work with a great group of people doing something so important, and I’m sure I’ll have a great time with all of the young people enrolled.  I look forward to a future in which we’re once again free to live indigenously, and I’m excited to play a part in that.

See you in the woods!

Daniel N. Quiray

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Hi Great Hollow Friends,

My name is Darcey Blue French, and I’ll be teaching at Great
Hollow this spring in the Jr. Naturalist and Scouts programs!   I have
spent much of my life, both during childhood and as an adult enjoying,
learning about, and getting deeply intimate with the wild, natural
places on our great Earth.  I am an herbalist, and nutritionist by
trade, but deeply passionate about wild medicines, wild foods, and
deep nourishment of the body, mind and spirit through connection with
nature, and our relationships with plants, animals, water, food and

I’ve worked in and studied the natural world and nature skills in
various ways over the years, including backcountry work for the Forest
Service, primitive/wilderness skills courses, camping, backpacking,
wild plant identification, wild foods preparation and cooking, nature
awareness, ecology, organic gardening and more!

I’m deeply honored and excited to be able to work closely with the
children and parents of Great Hollow to awaken, deepen, and nourish
the love, understanding and living experience of nature, wilderness
and the Earth.  I am so hopeful for our future when I think of
children and families who are knowledgeable, confident and empowered
to value themselves, their connections to life, the people in their
community and the ecosystem in which they live.  Looking forward to
meeting you all very soon and having adventures aplenty in the fields
and forests of Great Hollow!

~Darcey Blue French

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Autumn is underway. The students at Whole Earth Homeschool have been busy harvesting new skills and creating new memories and stories of their own.

The very first day was no exception. Even after a full day, sometimes nature has her own plans to present. A recently deceased groundhog was found on our driveway, and the tribal minds of the  advanced Wilderness Skills group wasted no debate: swiftly and respectfully they took the animal into their own hands. Greg and Broch carefully explained every detail of the process and the anatomy as they dressed the animal and gave the organs back to mother earth. The fur, meat, and bones were reserved for use.

Groundhod skinning

Each student was enamored. They asked thoughtful questions, examined each step with intense focus and curiosity. The knowledge and talent of our new instructors was deftly demonstrated.

Skills day one fall09 001

Trail to otter bridge

The Pioneers and Scouts seem to embody the old saying “work hard, play hard”. Both the groups work up laughter and sweat first thing in the morning with high octane games. After that the Pioneers head straight into their goal propelled construction project; the first ever Great Hollow primitive TreeHouse . I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

For the Scouts, the order of survival and the village tasks occupy much of their day.  They have worked on fire building, camouflage, wild tea, and lots of nature activities. Patrick and Jen always return with great stories and big smiles from their Scouts!

These are two groups that really fulfill the ingredients for a rich childhood.


Which sometimes requires extra shoes and a tireless good spirit,

Week 2 Scouts

as well as strategy. She looks innocent, doesn’t she? Little do the coyotes know that there is a quiet second deer hiding below, making them immune to being tagged. Deer can be tricksters too.


On the other side of Great Hollow, the Wilderness Challenge group rises to each occasion. This semester they are working hard at building character; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Anyone who witnesses their departure on Thursday mornings knows what I mean; you can’t help but be moved by the pack of them tearing into the woods like a thundering herd of Elk! It is breathtaking. And that’s only the morning. An hour later they’ve added a layer of muscle from their conditioning and are pumped for the day’s adventures.


So far, the ropes courses have been a hot pursuit. One of the most significant challenges they have tackled is Emily’s favorite:  the Giant’s Ladder. This initiative requires an incredible amount of willpower, teamwork, and overcoming of one’s perceived limitations. It provides fertile ground for self discovery and growth… in ways difficult to explain. Perhaps you will see into the photograph and imagine yourself in their position.

Yup I can

GL teamwork

Turning the wheel of energy, we come to the last day of our week. Sweet Fridays. This day is dedicated to absorbing nature on its deeper levels. To understanding the subtleties of song and cloud and wind and soil. To hearing the leaves tickle branches as they fall, and smelling the air as the hours pass. Fridays are dedicated passionately to honing relationship with Nature.



Mist watching with JNats


Bloodroot cuttings

In plant class we are working on a very practical level, with our focus on conservation. Components of this endeavor are three-fold: Conservation of land integrity and biodiversity, Bioregional and traditional alternatives for herbal medicines which replace overuse of endangered plants, and Place-based knowledge. The latter being the founding root of the former two components.

Our classes thus far have reflected this. The first day we studied and planted Goldenseal roots. The second day we studied Elder and made wise Elderberry Elixir to keep everyone healthy this season. The third day we took root cuttings to help propagate our existing Bloodroot, and the students scouted the proper habitat for their transplant. Very well done. The fourth day we assimilated what we have learned about these plants and their  accompanying lessons by creating our own folklore stories. This was an especially challenging and rewarding class – all the stories were fantastic, and if read to a sibling or younger friend, would indeed pass along the intended wisdom in clever and enchanting ways.

And of course our MicroScouts! Oh the fun and play these kids have. Every time I pass them they say something to make me laugh or smile. This group is seriously busy…. exploring the trails, finding bugs, drawing pictures, carving in the mud, baking, and picking lots and lots ….. and lots…. of goldenrod flowers. (This was at least their fourth bushel.)

Gh flower girls2

Happy October!

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