F.O.R.E.S.T. Mentorship PRogram

2020-2021 applications Closed

Friends Outdoors Reviving Earth Skills Together, also known as FOREST, is Whole Earth Nature School’s year-long nature mentorship program. FOREST is a student-driven initiative designed for kids who are dedicated to deepening their nature skills. The goal of FOREST is to build strong self-esteem, deepen student’s nature and survival skills, and nurture their leadership abilities. Our trained mentors will craft custom curriculum integrating student’s interests with existing learning objectives to create a unique experience for every participant. FOREST is designed to be a multi-year growth experience, with the High School program offering new and different experiences and challenges from the Middle School program.

Our new 9-month FOREST Understory program meets one Saturday a month and is a great way for students to fit epic FOREST skills in to their busy schedules. Spaces are very limited!

COVID Safety at forest

The safety of our students and their families is always foremost on our mind.

Using state and federal guidance, we have created a comprehensive safety plan to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus at our parks-based camps.

We are committed to doing what we can to reduce opportunities for the spread of the virus.  While studies show that being outdoors carries a much lower risk, there is, of course, inherent risk in any social interaction, such as through attending our summer nature camps. Thus, we ask that parents and guardians use their best judgement to decide what is best for their family at this time. We implemented a broad array of strategies to reduce the risk of attending our summer camps that either met or exceeded all guidance provided by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and continue to implement new safety protocols as they are introduced by the OHA.

We are implementing many new practices to promote the health and well-being of those who attend FOREST, including the following (these details will be updated if new guidance is given by the Oregon Health Authority):

  • Masks are required for staff and students at all times with the exception of eating, drinking, and while participating in socially distant activities (such as sit spots). If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, please contact us so that we can discuss a reasonable accommodation.
  • Group sizes, as always, are limited to 4-5 students who will not interact directly with other groups. 
  • Field trip groups will be limited to 10 students while any van transportation will have a maximum of 5 students per 15- passenger van, in order to allow adequate distance between students. 
  • Activities have been modified to eliminate games and activities that require lots of close interaction, touching, or sharing of items.
  • Every person at FOREST will be subject to a brief health screening, including touch-less temperature scanning.
    Staff and students are required to stay home if they feel ill or show symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Staff are trained to identify symptoms of COVID-19 and send students home who demonstrate symptoms, as well as request that the sick camper get tested and does not return until 72 hours after all symptoms have cleared.
  • Any shared equipment  will be sterilized between uses, and frequency of use will be reduced.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at all times for all staff and students.

How it Works

Small, Interest-Based Groups

As a team, students and mentors will create clans consisting of one mentor (Whole Earth Instructor) and four to five students. Clans will be created based on student’s interests, abilities and goals. Each student will be working on long-term and short-term projects for themselves and their clan. In the FOREST program, students and mentors will have a close working relationship.

Weekly Meetings

Mentors will schedule weekly meetings with their clan, in person, at Wayne Morse Family Farm. Meetings will be scheduled Monday-Thursday with a small group meeting each day and each student only meeting once per week. These weekly meetings will be an opportunity for students to work on ongoing skills and projects. They will also serve to support community between FOREST students as they connect with their peers.

Monthly Excursions

FOREST students will also meet once per month for a full-day excursion dedicated to learning new skills and furthering existing projects and goals outdoors. These excursions feature a variety of destinations around the Willamette Valley and each trip will have unique activities and lessons planned. Advanced students will also be involved in planning some of these trips.

Overnight Excursions

Once during the year we’ll turn a full-day excursion into an overnight excursion! Yup, we’ll spend a full weekend camping and exploring together! Trips include a mountain trip to test out your shelter building skills, a winter trip to explore skills in a snow environment, and a survival and tracking excursion in the coastal dune environment. See below for a detailed schedule of planned trips.

The Power of Community

The FOREST program will nurture a true community where each clan member is known and valued for who they are. Our intention is to forge profound connections with peers, mentors, and the earth. We will grow capable, confident leaders who work to expand their skills and push their personal comfort edges. These abilities and experiences will be a strong foundation for growth in all aspects of life. We will build a community focused on the joys and challenges of engaging in authentic relationship with each other and with the land that sustains us. By building strong peer bonds in nature, FOREST students will develop a support network to foster a lifetime of outdoor learning. FOREST is going to be an amazing way to connect with the natural world in your very own community. We hope you join us!

Applications due August 14th

“He absolutely LOVES Whole Earth and talks about it all the time. He really wants to continue to the path to counselor. He is having great adventures and learning so much.”
“Some kids have church groups, others have scouts, and some have sports like a youth club. [My daughter] has her FOREST Friends. This has been such a fantastic experience for her to connect with others, learn skills, but mostly, it is her centering time in a week full of teenage issues. She loves her leader Soma, and really feels connected with the other kids.”
"The FOREST program is awesome because you get to spend time with friends while working on fun skills. You get to know the other FOREST kids and it all becomes one community."
FOREST student

FOREST Middle School

For most students, FOREST Middle School is your entry point into the FOREST Program. Middle School FOREST students will experience strong peer and mentor support as they navigate a challenging time of their lives. Excursions and overnights will provide a well-rounded outdoor skill development experience that focuses on all of our four Learning Pathways. These students are able to begin to explore their skills at a deeper level than they have previously.

FOREST High School

FOREST High School continues the core elements of the FOREST Middle School program providing a peer and mentor supported learning  space while developing core outdoor skills.  FOREST High School also introduces additional leadership elements to the curriculum. When students are ready their mentors will support them in planning and leading excursions for the FOREST Middle School group. 

The Details

Where & When

The FOREST program is a nine-month nature program which will begin the first week of September, and is designed for middle and high school students. There will be a program kick-off meeting for students and parents in early September at Hendricks Park from 1-3pm. Weekly meetings will happen Monday-Friday and we will work together with you to find which day of the week works best for you.

FOREST students will:

  • Attend weekly clan meetings (6-8pm on a weekday)
  • Meet additionally once per month for day-long field trips on the second or third Saturday (see below for locations),
  • Attend a three-day final trip in May
  • High school students will experience one overnight shelter building challenge 


A year of the FOREST Programs is only $222 per month ($1,988.00 for the year). We have worked hard to keep the cost of this mentoring experience low to make it accessible to as many students as possible. Scholarships are available. Scholarship applications received by August 25th will be given priority consideration.


Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are now open. We will notify applicants of our decision by mid-August

Applications due August 14th

2020-2021 Trip Calendar

FOREST Middle School

  • September 12, 2020: Parent Orientation Meeting. Hendricks Park 1-3pm.
  • September 12, 2020: Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge
  • October 10th OR 17th, 2020: Elective field trip
  • November 14, 2020: Community Service Project 
  • December 12th, 2020 : Group hike
  • January 9, 2021: Elective field trip
  • February 13, 2021: Field Trip: Snow and winter skills
  • March 13 OR 20, 2021: Elective field trip
  • April 10, 2021: Elective field trip
  • May 14-16, 2020: Final Field Trip: Oregon Dunes (Tentative. Depends on assessment of COVID safety at that time. )

FOREST High School

  • September 12, 2020: Parent Orientation Meeting. Hendricks Park 1-3pm.
  • September 19-20, 2020: Field Trip: Shelter building in the Oregon Cascades
  • October 10th OR 17th, 2020: Elective field trip
  • November 21, 2020: Community Service Project
  • December 19th, 2020 : No trip- to be rescheduled
  • January 16, 2021: Elective field trip
  • February 20, 2021: Field Trip: Snow and winter skills
  • March 13 OR 20, 2021: Elective field trip
  • April 17-18, 2021: Field Trip: Coastal Shelter Overnight
  • May 8, 2020: Final Field Trip: Horse Rock Ridge

Meet the Mentors

Our carefully chosen mentors for FOREST are:

  • Veteran staff with years of experience
  • Trained in Wilderness First Aid
  • Practitioners of their specializations outside of Whole Earth
  • Diverse in their teaching practices, for diverse students
  • Passionate about helping young people transition to adulthood

The leaders of our FOREST program are the same instructors who train our new staff. Each mentor has a wide variety of outdoor skills that they practice as well as skills for working with people of all ages and abilities. 

Whether a student is interested in nature writing, fire by friction, leatherwork, fishing, shelter building, whittling, or wildcrafting, we have a mentor with something to teach. They are also unique individuals who can relate to students over the latest radio hits, Dungeons & Dragons, video games, photography, athletics, and more.

Friends Outdoors Reviving Earth Skills Together

Applications due August 14th