We always share a beautiful potluck feast when we gather on Friday evenings, and people usually bring food to share over the course of the rest of the weekend as well because it builds a sense of abundance and community. The Wildwood Path provides eggs, grains, beverages and sides for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, and a hearty pot of stew or other entrée on Saturday night. You will pack your own lunches and snacks for Saturday and Sunday so that you’ll feel nourished and fed whether we’re in the woods, on the shore, or inside! We take into consideration dietary restrictions and make sure there is something for everyone– sharing food is one of the most fun parts of our gatherings, and one of the best ways to connect to our gratitude and relationship with the world.

Camping on the grounds at Paridae Grove is an option year round — we have access to hundreds of acres of wild Maine forests just outside our back door, and most people camp in our “village” area. There are several “debris huts” that you’re welcome to use, one large community shelter with a balsam fir floor and a tarp roof, and limitless options for setting up tents, building your own shelters, or camping under the stars! Some participants want to challenge themselves to practice winter camping and sleep out every month, while others want to sleep indoors. There is space inside at Paridae Grove for about 6 people to sleep (both in our “Red Tent” and in the living room) but you will have to pack up your belongings during the day and put them aside, since you’ll be sleeping in community spaces that are sometimes needed for workshops. There are also local “Air B’B” options in Unity, and some of our participants have opened up their homes for out of town guests in the past and likely continue to do so. By joining the Wildwood Path, you’re joining a community of nature connected people who balance rugged outdoor skills with taking care of one another and supporting each other and ourselves to be comfortable. There’s something for everyone!

There is a wilderness dog who sometimes attends Wildwood Path gatherings, but she has been trained specifically to fit in with nature connection programming and mentoring. Other animals are wonderful companions and we fully support bringing nature connection into relationship with your pets, but if other animals attend our gatherings, it stops feeling wild and starts detracting and distracting from our ability to engage with the land around us as naturalists. We’ll have occasional community gatherings when pets are welcome, but as a rule, it’s best to leave them at home.

When you sign up for the Wildwood Path, you sign up for a complete 9-month experience. That means that if you have to miss part or all of a weekend, we will support you to catch up and integrate what you’ve missed. A buddy from the group can give you a call to share the story of our weekend, and you can ask for extra support with your at-home nature connection practices. It’s not the end of the world, though it is a shame to have to miss out on any of our time together!

The amount of time you spend on your projects and naturalist practices is entirely up to you. Some people just come for the weekends and are thrilled and proud to be able to carve out that much time for nature and community in their lives. Others make this a deeply immersive experience that influences every day. Each month, you’ll be given a list of suggested assignments and at-home work that you can focus on. This list is divided into three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. If you want to take a deep dive, you can do all of it—but whatever you’re called to do is right for you, and we’ll support you in it.

Our circle varies slightly in size since we have visiting elders and mentors who change each month, but usually hovers around 12 – 20 people total. We’d love to be able to accept more people, but we want to keep the “small group feel”.

Some participants pay for the whole session in a lump sum, while others pay monthly. Please keep in mind that this is a 9-month program and you are committing to paying the total cost for the year whether or not you attend all of the sessions or choose to leave the program. We can’t take new students if someone misses a class, so in order to budget and plan we need a long-term commitment! Barter and trade are also available to offset costs if paying the break even cost ($350/month or $3150) or the low end of the sliding scale is inaccessible for you. Please contact us to discuss this more.

The Wildwood Path teaches traditional outdoor skills and survival skills, but we are also here to support you to be more comfortable and at home in the wild in every way. A good pair of winter boots, a waterproof rain coat, and a warm parka will make a big difference in the quality of your experience. We suggest “Arctic ” Muck Boots, Sorel winter boots with a 1” wool liner, or traditional “mukluks” made by hand or by a company like Steger for toasty toes in wintertime. Raingear should be rubberized or of a breathable waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex or an equivalent. And a down or puffy jacket will help you stay warm on winter days. For base layers we suggest wool, silk, or synthetics rather than cotton. We do have winter gear to loan out, but these items are available at many outlets and thrift stores, so if you start looking now, you should be well outfitted by the time the cold weather rolls in. We’ll discuss how to dress as we study shelter in our first month, and will support you to be comfortable and well-prepared!

The Wildwood Path is a place where we are coming together to create the kind of community that we’d all like to live in. This means that we welcome and encourage all kinds of diversity in our group—diversity of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race, ancestry, experience level, political views, religious views, and ability level. Sometimes having a diverse group challenges us—but we make a commitment to growing, to learning, and doing our best to be an empowering and supportive person for others to be around regardless of differences. This means that we DO put our feet in our mouths! Our goal isn’t not to offend—it’s to continue to learn, to heal, and to grow together so that we can all become stronger through our diversity, like a healthy forest. Staff are available for one on one conversations if you’re working on a particular issue and could use some support, and we’ll help each other along the way. Please join us in stepping up to a higher standard of behavior in community for the sake of building long-term healthy culture together.

 

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