Jan 22, 2019

Winter at Camp Forest 2019

Camp Forest asleep
Camp Forest asleep

Dear supporters,

Camp Forest is bedded down for the winter, but we are excited about our 2019 camp season! Your support provides low-income and underserved children incredible, woodsy experiences. If you know of campers age 7-18 who would love a chance to learn about cross-cultural wilderness living skills, please share with them our 2019 schedule (below). Also, if you are an adult and want to join us for Training Week, you'll get a primer on primitive skills yourself, and a taste for what Camp Forest has to offer!

Camp Forest sessions are weekly. Campers may attend as many weeks as desired. Our program is a mix of individual and group work so campers can attend any week to advance their knowledge, skills, and experience towards their next badge level.

June 24 - 28 | TRAINING WEEK

Join with Camp Forest Staff and learn about teaching and mentoring children in and about the Natural World. Learn about the deeper levels of Nature Therapy used at Camp Forest. Learn about Coyote Teaching, direct experience, safe space, mentoring, free form scheduling and finding one’s inner passion for learning. Adam Stone, with over 10 years of experience working in this field, will help you develop the skills needed to work in a wilderness camp.


Join with Camp Forest in this unique combination of Day Camp and Expedition for youths and adults. A camper, youth, adult, or family can spend the week on the river or choose some days in which you only attend Day Camp on the river. Learn about the local watershed by hiking, canoeing, navigating, tracking, studying ecology, learning survival skills, and working on the badges of Camp Forest and Maine Woodsman. Open to Families, adults, and youth ages 7-17.


Introduce yourself to nature and the forest. Learn basic plant identification, build a shelter, identify animal tracks, learn to navigate in the woods, make fire and gather around it to play nature games and sing songs. Gain understanding of nature and respect for all life while working on the first badge level, the Osprey Badge. Campers who have already received the Osprey Badge or who want to work on their Junior Maine Woodsman badge can further develop their skills to advance to the next level. Open to youth ages 7-17.


Camp Forest participates with the State of Maine’s Junior Maine Guide Program. Start by learning skills for the Maine Woodsman Badge and advance to Junior Maine Guide level. Campers experience a week in the woods learning the basics of outdoor living: building their own shelters, cooking outdoors to sustain themselves, developing mapping skills, treating advanced first aid issues (fainting, stomach aches, sprains), developing an awareness and appreciation of the outdoors, and perfecting their water-based skills: canoe paddling, fishing, fish identification, and more. Once Campers have developed sufficient skills, those ages 14 – 18 can take test for their Junior Maine Guide from the State of Maine during Maine Guide Testing Week. For information on the Junior Maine Guide program, visit https://juniormaineguides.org/. There is a required sleepover for this week. Open to youth ages 7-17.

July 22 - 26 | JUNIOR MAINE GUIDE TESTING WEEK (Alt - Animal Week)

This week is a special week for testing to obtain the Junior Maine Guide title given by the State of Maine. It is a state-wide week-long test where campers from across the sate gather at Stephen Phillips Preserve in Rangely, Maine for a week of rigorous testing. Campers will be accompanied to the testing site by Maine Guide, Adam Stone. Campers must be ages 14 – 18 to test. Not a DAY CAMP WEEK.

Please Note: *Minimum of 6 registrations required for testing week. If minimum is not met, Camp Forest will run a regular week of Animal Week Day Camp.

July 29 - August 2 | ANIMAL WEEK

So many animals live all around us here in Maine, but we hardly ever see them! Spend a week getting close to our animal neighbors in every way. Learn to walk like a fox, see like an owl, hear like a deer. Starting out with painting our faces like our favorite local animals, we’ll go on to track and find sign of all the animals in our woods, make crafts from animal bones and furs, learn bird calls and frog sounds, and even get to see all kinds of animal skulls, pelts, track casts, and photos. Every day, we’ll play sneaking games so that we can get closer to the animals, walk like the animals walk, and learn where to sit and hide to watch them. By the end of the week, you’ll know what kind of animals live around you, where to go look for them, and what kinds of tracks and signs they leave behind. You may feel like you’re a fox or a rabbit yourself by Friday! Join us for an animal adventure and go home ready for the next level – biology, hunting, photography, or just seeing lots of animals! Open to youth ages 7-17.


For adults and youths, this is a special overnight expedition and day camp combination. The Trail is 47 miles long and passes through private property. Camp Forest has been given permission to conduct this expedition under the guidance of Maine Guide Adam Stone. We will traverse 10 or fewer miles per day to make it possible for young children to participate. Any member of the public is invited to participate provided they are able to navigate the trail. Camp Forest will provide drop off and pick up spots if you want to participate on a daily basis rather than sleepover each night. The expedition begins Sunday afternoon in Unity, Maine and ends the following Sunday afternoon in Belfast, Maine. Families are welcome! Open to youth ages 7-17.


Camp Forest’s unique badge system challenges campers to a high level of skill and accomplishment. Eagle and Beaver Week is a week for digging deep into the part of your badge journey that inspires you! During this self-directed week, you’ll have lots of access to one-on-one and peer mentoring to make progress towards your next badge level. Learn survival, shelter, navigation, carving, basket-making, natural arts, tracking, plant identification, cooking fires, ecology and community skills. Make baskets, ropes, tools, leather bags, and gear off the landscape. Mixed in with the usual games, swimming, songs, and skills, you’ll help each other finish those primitive projects that take more skill and focus. Navigation, map and compass, and emergency medical skills required for the Maine Woodsman Badge will also be included. Osprey Badge skills or equivalent is required. Skills for the Eagle, Beaver and Maine Woodsman Badges will be learned. Required two night sleepover Wednesday and Thursday night. Open to youth ages 7-17.

August 19 - 23 | HARVEST WEEK and DINNER

Nearing Fall and the time of harvest, we will be in natural abundance. Harvest blueberries, apples, hazelnuts, and fish. Learn forest harvest skills, play games and prepare for the community harvest meal. Families welcome. Open to youth ages 7-17.


A Harvest Dinner will be enjoyed at Camp Forest from 4:30pm to 7 pm. All community members are welcome to attend. A Free Will donation jar will be available with proceeds applied to the campership fund of Camp Forest. Please bring a fresh harvest dish. REGISTER NOW!

Register yourself or your child below today!


Nov 14, 2018

Qtr 4 JWHS: The search for lost family

Daisy and Kiptoo at JWHS
Daisy and Kiptoo at JWHS

In Kenya at JWHS (the ExOp orphanage), our last few months have been dominated by the search for lost family members. Since we regard the family environment as, generally, the ideal place - albeit sometimes needing support - to raise children, we act on every viable tip we get that helps us reunite the orphans at JWHS with positive kin influences in their lives. If successful, we search for the best possible outcomes for the child in question depending on in-depth analysis of the resources and mindset of the located family members.

With regard to three of the children, Garrison, Daisy, and Kiptoo, we received promising tips about mother, brother, uncle, and sister sightings. News about Daisy and Kiptoo (the brother and sister pair who came to live with us just a few months ago) came first.

Daisy and Kiptoo's mom had disappeared for several months before a neighbor realized the children, no older than 8, had been fending for themselves for several months, living off butcher scraps and whatever else they could find to eat. When Daisy got sick, Kiptoo was forced to reveal their situation, and child services brought them to our place at JWHS. 

As Bev, ExOp's Director, writes, "They had some difficulty adjusting. Neither of them had ever been to school so they entered nursery. They are quite bright and performed very well. Now they have settled in and daily hugs are in order. One day as Daisy was working so hard at communicating, she talked about her mother, and sister, and aunt. She mentioned her dad’s death and some of the difficulties in her home. She talked about having no food and no one coming to see them and care for them.  And she described her mother.

"About three weeks later we got a tip that her mother was in a town about 1.5 hours away. The person who gave the tip showed us the house but the woman was not there.  Trooping around the town for an hour or more finally brought another tip. The woman who was escorted out of the bar to the car was very tipsy.  As she approached the car the children said, "this is not our mother." The woman still claimed to be their mother but we did not believe her. She did not even know their names.

"We are glad we followed this lead.  Maybe the next lead will be the right one."

With Garrison's search, we were luckier. Chege, JWHS Manager, tells his story:

"When Garrison came to us the story was that his sister lost him when they traveled to Nakuru to visit his grandmother. He was found by police on the streets and was brought to us. [Later] Garrison told me the school he was in in Nairobi. I took him to that school and asked him if he would know his home from the school gate. He tried though the place had changed because of new buildings. Finally we got there and found his elder brother who was soo happy because he had been coming to Nakuru to look for Garrison on the street without success. It came out that after his mom died Garrison suffered mistreatment from the woman his father remarried. He decided enough is enough and ran away from home. His brother has promised to come to Nakuru - He is raising Garisson's younger sister and would love that they grow up together."

Beverly adds, "[This is] why we try so hard... Many times we fail but occasionally... Garrison has an older brother. This man, suffering that nightmare we hope to never have - a missing loved one - had been searching for Garrison. He has spent all his money searching. He had slept hungry on the streets searching. Joyous reunion... now we have family to help decide the best for Garrison."

Many conversations and visits will occur before we decide what is best for Garrison, but meanwhile, he has his family back. The resources we mobilize in search of and support for connecting families with abandoned or otherwise orphaned children like Daisy, Kiptoo, and Garrison are not part of the basic needs we request in support of JWHS children's day-to-day. If you would like to help JWHS children search for and connect with lost family members, please consider a special donation this season.

Garrison, after reuniting with his older brother
Garrison, after reuniting with his older brother


Oct 23, 2018

Camp Forest Quarterly Report Oct. 2018

Canoe fun during Watershed Week at Camp Forest
Canoe fun during Watershed Week at Camp Forest

Wow, we had a great year at Camp Forest during the summer of 2018! As you may know, Camp Forest caters to children in and around Maine who wish to learn traditional skills, such as fire-making, animal-tracking, and traditional arts and crafts. Camperships provide low-income children the chance to experience the Maine wilderness in a way they would not otherwise have. Of 28 enrollments this year, we were able to provide 4 full camperships and a total of 15 generous discounts as a result of donor generosity. That means more than half of our campers received aid for their camp experience, thanks to you!

This year, our campers went on a watershed expedition where they learned navigation, canoeing, and the basics of camp-making, and acquired animal tracking skills and knowledge of mammalian habits during Animal week. During Forest Basics week, newcomers to primitive skills gained confidence in their fire-making, map-reading, wood carving, wild edibles, team-building, and many other skills. Our veteran campers and non-veterans alike perfected their skills during Maine Woodsman and Eagle/Beaver weeks, and we were able to take a couple campers to observe elite skills-in-action during the official Junior Maine Guide testing week.

Our evaluations for 2018 suggested campers and their parents were most impressed with Camp Forest's wilderness setting and with the counselors, Adam and Mark, who allowed children the space to try new things and the support they needed to be successful in outdoor fun and skills. 

Every year, the proportion of children requesting financial aid grows, and we rely on donors like you to provide them full camp experiences. As we prepare to make 2019 at Camp Forest an incredible experience for low income American families, we want you to have a few images of camp fun to imprint on you as you decide where to give in the coming year. Thank you so much for all you do for child education and confidence, and please consider giving in support of our upcoming 2019 camp experience.

Best wishes for a holiday season from Camp Forest!

Camp Forest campers learn bowl and spoon-making
Camp Forest campers learn bowl and spoon-making


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