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

Our flagship 9-month Profound experience

What does F.O.R.E.S.T. mean?

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.

  • Weekly meetings in clans of 5 students and one mentor
  • Customized goals/projects for each group and student
  • Monthly full-day excursions to exciting destinations
  • Overnight trips to test skills and play in nature together
  • Community connections with other teens dedicated to nature connection and personal growth

2023-2024 FOREST applications are open!

The application deadline is September 25.

Selected students will be notified by September 29.

FOREST Mentorship Program

Grades: We have groups for middle-school students and groups for high-school students.

Weeklies: Weekly meetings are 6-8pm on a weekday at a local park. 

Excursions: Excursions are full days (and often require rest after!), on either the 2nd or 3rd Saturday depending on the cohort. There will be 3 overnight weekend trips throughout the year.*

Cost: $2740 –  Payment plans and scholarships available. We have worked hard to keep the cost of this highly personalized mentoring experience low to make it accessible to as many students as possible, and we fundraise to offer scholarships to as many students as possible.

Please access this Google Doc for a complete and up-to-date schedule.

*Please note that this schedule may change as the program progresses.

about 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.

Alternatively… Are you looking for our lightweight FOREST Understory program for busy teens, featuring monthly epic full-day classes?

“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

How it Works

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 for both continuing and new students, 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. 

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 have weekly meetings with their clan, in person, at a local park. Each clan will be assigned one meeting day between Monday and Thursday. 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

Twice 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! Each trip will focus on a different type of shelter-making. The October trip builds survival skills, resilience, and a commitment to learning. The end of the year trip includes more breadth of skills like tracking and primitive cooking and celebrates all that the students have learned.

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!