F.O.R.E.S.T. Understory

Monthly school year series to build epic skills

Friends Outdoors Reviving Earth Skills Together, also known as FOREST, is Whole Earth Nature School’s teen 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 FOREST Understory 9-month immersive nature skills experience is the perfect chance for 6th-10th grade students to fit nature connection into their busy schedule. One Saturday per month we focus the entire day on a unique skill that builds on skills learned the month before. Each session provides students with a take home project to continue working on between meetings. We learn some of the exciting basics of wilderness self-reliance and create a foundation of skills to continue to build upon, either at home, or in future programs.

FOREST Understory includes:

  • Classes that fit into teens’ busy schedules
  • A different skill focus each month, scaffolded for growth
  • Focused projects that develop particular skill sets
  • Community connections with other nature-connected teens
  • Cool things to take home and keep working on and show friends and family

FOREST Understory covers skills such as:

  • Woodcraft: Carving and Whittling
  • Shelter, Axes, and Saws
  • Fire Making
  • Wildlife Tracking
  • Navigation
  • Advanced Fire Skills
  • Wild Food, Medicine, and Water
  • Archery Bow Making
  • Natural Cordage
  • Arrow Making
  • Leathercraft

FOREST Understory

Grades: 6th-10th 
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dates: Last Saturday of the month from October – May
Location: Various locations around Lane County
Cost: $740

Monthly Meeting Schedule 2023-2024*

  • October 28 – Understory first meeting: Hendricks Park
  • December 2 – Understory day trip: Perkins peninsula
  • December 9 – All programs – Holiday Family potluck (no monthly trip)
  • January 27 – Understory day trip: location TBD
  • February 24 – Understory day trip: Shotgun creek or Hendricks Park
  • April 6 – Understory day trip: location TBD
  • April 27 – Understory day trip: location TBD
  • May 11 – Understory horse rock day trip (final session)

*Exact activities may change at any time. 

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 FOREST flagship program, featuring weekly mentoring and epic monthly trips?

The Power of Community

The FOREST program nurtures true community where each member is known and valued for who they are. Our intention is to forge profound connections with peers, mentors, and the earth. We 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 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 develop a support network to foster a lifetime of outdoor learning. FOREST is an amazing way to connect with the natural world in your very own community. We hope you join us!

“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