A Year at White Pine
The Age Groups and Opportunities
Tree Frogs are for ages 4-6 year-olds.
They meet for Forest School at Holliday Park from 9:30-2:30 pm on Tuesdays through Fridays and Summer Camp during the season.
Flying Squirrels are for ages 7-9 year-olds.
They meet for Forest School in Rocky Ripple from 9:00-3:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, After-School Clubs from 4:00-7:00 pm on Mondays, and Summer Camp during the season.
Scouts are for ages 10-12 year-olds
They meet for Forest School in Rocky Ripple from 9:00-3:00 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, After-School Clubs from 4:00-7:00 pm on Tuesdays, and Summer Camp during the season.
Teens are ready and focused 12-year-olds to 17-year-olds.
They meet for After-School Pathway Clubs from 4:00-7:00 pm on Wednesdays through Fridays, Fire Keeper practicum days, and Summer Camp during the season.
White Pine Wilderness Academy is a secular school with students and staff from many cultural and religious backgrounds. There is no belief system that is required to attend, other than following the 5 Agreements that make up our ethical core. The agreements are symbolized by the 5 needles in the White Pine’s bundle:
- Respect Life
- Respect Each Other
- Respect Ourselves
- Respect The Circle
- Leave No Trace
That being said, the core of our curriculum is an Indigenous approach to nature connection. We teach skills, honor traditions, and tell stories from Indigenous cultures the world over. Some of these traditions we have a specific lineage to, and some we do not. Each story, tradition, or skill has different protocols and prohibitions depending on our degree of connection to the story.
The Shikari lineage of Trackers from the jungles of India is closely linked to our school. The stories and skills of the Shikari were passed down directly to White Pine’s founder Matt Shull from his Grandfather Ernie Shull, who spent 20 years as a Shikari in India.
The 8 Shields lineage began at The Tracker School founded by Tom Brown Jr., and was further developed by Jon Young at Wilderness Awareness School. Matt Shull and several of our staff have studied and currently study directly with these Elders. We are very pleased with White Pine’s current expression of the 8 Shields Nature Connection model.
The Primitive Skills lineage was founded by Errett Callahan in the United State Southwest. The society sought to promote the practice and teaching of aboriginal skills, foster communication between teachers and practitioners, and set standards for authenticity, ethics, and quality.
The Peacemaker lineage from the Iroquois Confederacy came to the 8 Shields lineage through the work of Chief Jake Swamp. The story of the Peacemaker is a beautiful saga of how 5 nations came to form a peace that lasted for generations. This story also influenced the creation of our own Declaration of Independence. Because of the cultural significance of these stories, we take great care to follow all of the protocols and prohibitions that Chief Jake Swamp mentored us in.
At times we are honored to host Elders from Native American, African, Asian and European traditions. The Inner Tracking framework we have established at White Pine allows us to present culture in a way that is respectful and reverent without being religious or culturally appropriative.
Under the guidance of Elders and in the spirit of experimentation, White Pine is moving forward into relatively uncharted territory. We are contributing to a regenerative cultural model, inspired by ancient traditions and nature connection.
A Day at White Pine
Each day at White Pine is different depending on the weather, changes in natural cycles, and opportunities presented by teachable moments.
All classes have a maximum student-to-lead instructor ratio of 10:1. Firekeepers and volunteers frequently reduce this ratio to 5:1 or less.
However, the basic structure for the day follows this relatively consistent schedule:
- Drop-off, greeting, & free play
- Opening Circle with Gratitude, Songs, Stories, and perhaps a game or two
- Focus time for projects in the Unit’s Guilds
- Group Lunch
- A field excursion to the Wapahani River’s riparian corridor, Butler campus, or the Central Canal
- Closing Circle to debrief the day & look forward to the next White Pine day