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 do our best to 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, with access to running water (from natural springs or a hose, depending on the season). 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 an indoor sleeping option onsite for emergencies only, but if you need to sleep indoors, there are local “Air BnB” options in Unity, a nearby bunkhouse which is sometimes available for a small fee, and some of our participants have opened up their homes for out of town guests out of generosity. We can help you figure out which option is best for your needs. When we meet off site, camping is always an option, and there is also always some form of shelter available so that folks can stay warm and dry… varying from simple handmade structures to fancy hotel-style houses. 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!
Tephra, our beloved wilderness therapy dog, 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 quickly 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 remain included and to 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 from any of our mentors. It often requires a bit of extra dedication on your part to get the benefit of the teachings that month, but there’s good learning and sometimes great fun in that process, too! It’s not the end of the world, though we know 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 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 truly immersive experience by devoting dedicated time to it every day at home. 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 doing none of it is fine, too! Whatever you’re called to do is what is right for you, and we’ll support you!
Our circle varies slightly in size since we have visiting elders and mentors who change each month, but usually hovers around 15 – 28 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 journey 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 in new students if someone misses a class, so in order to budget and plan we need a long-term commitment! We understand the challenges of this and apologize for the necessity in our current financial reality, which we are also working to shift and make more equitable. Barter and trade are available to offset costs if paying the break even cost ($350/month or $3150) is inaccessible for you. Please contact us to discuss this more if money is a barrier for you. And keep in mind that there are several tuition waiver and reparations pricing programs for which you might qualify!
The Wildwood Path teaches traditional outdoor skills and wilderness skills, but we are also here to support you to be more comfortable and at home in nature 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, and we have some extras to lend for folks who can’t acquire their own. 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 it’s always easiest for you to have your own, so keep your eyes peeled and start preparing, and 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!
I see that this is a diverse community. I’m worried that I might say the wrong thing and hurt someone... or be hurt myself! What should I do?