School Year Program FAQs

What is your cancellation and refund policy?

Cancellation and refund policies are outlined on our Registration Policy page.

What does a typical day look like?

Each morning, students arrive and have time to settle in and transition in their own way by choosing between high energy games, assisting in preparing a fire, or engaging in skill-based projects with staff and apprentices. The morning flow also includes an opening circle where the group shares gratitude, stories, songs, and sensory awareness practices that set the stage for the day while inspiring students and fueling their curiosity. Instructors then lead students in adventures, interest-based activities, opportunities to develop nature-based skills, and fun challenges. A closing circle wraps the experience by sharing favorite stories from the day, offering opportunities to reflect, setting intentions, and connecting their learning to their life at home.

Who are the instructors and what are their qualifications?

It’s the people who make a school great! The passionate instructors at WAS have a deep respect and love of children, experience in the outdoors, and a depth of knowledge of the natural world. Our year-round field instructors come with years of experience facilitating youth programs. Most school year instructors have completed our rigorous one-year Immersion Outdoor School, as well as a second year of apprenticeship as a youth instructor. All instructors have intensive training in our curriculum and our philosophy of education; each brings their own passion and expertise to the teaching team. All staff are required to be Wilderness First Aid and CPR certified. You can learn more about them by reading their bios on our Meet the Team page. Instructors for each program are indicated at the bottom of the program page.

Do you provide a bus or shuttle service to your campus?

Yes! We provide a free shuttle service from the Taylor Landing Boat Ramp or the Duvall Park-and-Ride for the following programs: Village, Foxes, Coyotes, and Community School. We do not provide a shuttle service for Roots and Wings, monthly programs or summer camps. Our shuttle picks up students approximately at 8:30 am and drops off at 3 pm.

Parents also have the option to drop off their child directly at Linne Doran, with drop off at approximately 9:00 am and pick up at approximately 2:30 pm.

Are meals provided at programs?

We do not provide meals for monthly and weekly programs. Students should bring their own lunch, snacks and water for all programs. The only exception to this is our overnight monthly Wild Within program where we do provide some meals.

Are there bathrooms for students to use at your programs?

While we do have honey buckets at Linne Doran and public bathrooms at all of our Monthly sites, we are not always able to use these facilities, especially if we are on adventures far away from base camp. For this reason, for all programs besides Roots and Wings and Nature Explorers, we request that all students are able to nature pee and be willing to learn how to nature poop (while less likely this is needed). It is important that parents help their child understand that they may need to pee or poop in the woods when in class. 
For our Roots and Wings and Nature Explorer students (4-6 year olds), students must be potty trained. We will make more frequent trips to the honey bucket or public bathrooms, and there may be times when instructors can support them with nature peeing or pooping as needed.

What happens in the event of an animal sighting?

Most of the animals we encounter are not threatening in any way. Wildlife tracking is part of our core curriculum; students learn cougar and bear awareness, and proper response to encounters. Animal encounters can be an inspiring and memorable experience!

What are the emergency policies and procedures?

Safety is always our top priority and children’s physical and emotional safety is of utmost importance. This informs how we manage the environment, how we conduct ourselves, and the community agreements we establish.

The staff at Wilderness Awareness School’s camps are all trained in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Expedition staff are certified at the higher level of Wilderness First Responder. We follow an established medical policy and emergency procedure guide. Instructors carry basic first aid kits at all times and an extensive first aid kit is on-site for more serious injuries. If further medical assistance is required we will call the parent as soon as possible. If necessary, we can take the student to the nearest clinic or hospital from their program location. Instructors will call 911 or the school office for additional support or assistance.

How can I learn more about the philosophy and curriculum at WAS?

You can find answers to many of your questions on the School Year About page. If you’re looking to learn more, Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, co-authored by former Wilderness Awareness School staff members Ellen Haas, Evan McGown, and founder Jon Young is an excellent resource and can be purchased in our store.

What are the procedures for unpleasant or hazardous weather?

As an outdoor school, we enjoy spending time outside, rain and shine, only retreating to covered or indoor spaces when it’s absolutely necessary. Our campus currently has an indoor classroom and several covered spaces for gathering around a fire.

During severe weather events, WAS Youth Programs Staff will contact parents through email the evening before or the morning of class. We will give specific information regarding change of location, cancellation, or early pick up. If class is canceled due to severe weather, we will not have a “make up” day, and refunds will not be given for these cancellations.

If the program I’m interested in is full, can I get on a waitlist?

Absolutely! Program openings may occur during the year, so the waitlist is recommended. If a program has a long enough waitlist, we may consider adding additional instructors to a program to accommodate more families if it is possible.

What if my child is almost old enough to enroll for a program?

Your child must turn the minimum age for the program within 30 days of the start of the program. No exceptions.

How do I determine if this program is a good fit for my child who has special needs?

We welcome conversations with parents about their child’s needs to help determine if Wilderness Awareness School is the right match for you. We work with neurodiverse children if they are able to participate without needing an aide or a significant amount of accommodation. We recognize that at this time, we are not able to accommodate all of the physical, emotional, and cognitive needs of all people. We will be happy to hear what kind of experience you are seeking for your child and if Wilderness Awareness School might be a good fit for you. Please contact [email protected] as early as possible to see if we can accommodate your child’s needs.

Where do I find information about scholarships and payment options?

Payment options are outlined on our Registration Policy page. This is also where you can find information about scholarships and the scholarship application.

How old does my child need be in order to volunteer at a WAS summer camp?

We love our volunteers! They are a vital part of our school. The age requirement to volunteer is 14. For more information about volunteer opportunities and to access the application, check out the page for School Year Program Volunteers. We also welcome Summer Camp Volunteers. You can contact Sam Bowman, our Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected] with any questions.

Can I visit a program day?

We offer visit days to youth students interested in enrolling in our programs who may need some extra orientation before committing. Visit Days typically take place in the morning during programs (9am-10:30am). Due to Covid restrictions, we may not be able to accommodate visit day requests at this time.

Wilderness Awareness School