for parents, students, teachers
Dear Parents, Students, Teachers,
This handbook is designed to paint a clear picture of what you or your child/student will experience with Kroka Expeditions. If you have questions about any of the policies described in this handbook please contact our office. We will answer any questions you may have about our programs and practices. Our programs are intentionally designed to be unique, with much thought, understanding, and wisdom. It is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that our students, families, and participating schools feel that what we offer is what they want in an outdoor education experience. Through this process, we are able to provide exceptional programs for our students, and help with the development of capable, responsible, and respectful citizens of the future.
Lynne Boudreau and Misha Golfman, co-founders
OUR BASE CAMP FACILITIES
All programs begin at our Farm in Marlow, New Hampshire - 75 lovely acres of northern forest, with fields and a stream. A charming 1835 farmhouse and barn serve as our office and logistics base, while the base camp is a village of its own. It is powered all with solar electricity and is made up of various traditional and indigenous dwellings, such as yurts, canvas wall tents, teepees, and lodges to house teachers and students. Some of our food comes from our extensive vegetable gardens, poultry, and dairy cow, and all our cooking is done traditionally on wood-fired stoves. Wood stoves are used for heating dwellings as well. We swim in mountain streams and in our campus pond, water is hand-carried from the well, and a centrally located composting toilet facility serves the entire campus.
Communal cooking of wood-fired delicious wholesome meals is an important part of a Kroka experience. Students take turns gathering ingredients from the farm, garden and the forest, cooking, cleaning and tending the fire. Most meals are vegetarian, and we work to eat meat we have a relationship with: fish that we catch, chickens from our farm, or meat that is raised at local farms. While many ingredients are grown at camp and on local family farms, we also purchase local and/or organically grown products as they are available. We emphasize three nourashing meals per day and provide snacks inbetween as needed. Please indicate any special dietary needs on the medical questionnaire.
We take pride in continually refining our menu, but it is important to realize there are limitations to the types of food we can carry and store on expeditions. While the food on the trip may be different from what some students eat at home, we ask them to keep an open mind. We encourage new foods and make the topic of food a conversationg about everyone involved in growing the food, as well as those who plan and prepare each meal that is eaten. This helps to heighten students' awareness and not waste any food. We believe if one has a positive attitude and is willing to try new things they, like many of our students, may discover new foods they enjoy.
We are willing to work with many different dietary and food related needs and will accommodate, if we can. Otherwise we ask families to provide specialty foods if necessary. Please note that students will likely be offered or served a variety of wild, raw, and unprocessed foods. Examples of this include wild blueberries, fish caught in lakes and rivers, raw milk from our dairy farm, and fresh herbs and vegetables from our garden. If you have any concerns about this, please let us know!
We provide all specialty gear, such as life jackets, helmets, paddles, harnesses, etc. Our equipment is very dear to us and we like it to last for many years in order to bring pleasure to many people. Students will be instructed on proper care and maintenance of all items and will be held responsible for the gear they are using. With permission of the program instructor, students are welcome to bring their own boat, climbing harness, or other special gear.
All students must pass a swim test prior to swimming without a life jacket. The swim test is not mandatory. Students may choose not to take the swim test and instead wear their life jackets while in the water. Life jackets are worn during all boating activities. Swimming activities are supervised by a certified lifeguard. If your child is not a swimmer, this should be noted on the Medical Questionnaire.
All students are required to bathe while on Kroka programs. When on an expedition, students will separate by gender and staff will lead and model a thorough washing of the body and full immersion in the stream or pond. Soap is used for hand and face washing before and after all meals at the campsite.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE HUMAN BODY
Some Kroka staff and students are accustomed to swimming and bathing without any clothing, which in many wilderness expedition settings is the simplest and most appropriate way. This optional activity is treated with sensitivity, and is not a core part of our curriculum. Bathing suits are always required in public locations, and for staff and students of younger-age mixed-gender programs.
Programs are developmentally appropriate and are adapted to the individual students’ ability level. Advanced programs for older students are designed to be physically and mentally demanding, which require a willingness to push beyond one’s limits. We want our students to become stronger and more capable individuals at the end of their experience.
All outdoor activities carry with them some element of inherent risk. In addition to the general risks associated with adventure sports and wilderness pursuits, there are other risks that come with our daily rhythms. For example, on a white water paddling trip there is water safety to be aware of, as well as the possibility of cutting one's self while preparing dinner. We have an excellent safety record, which we achieve through year-round practice in simple living, wilderness medical training, providing special safety equipment, and trust in our intuitive sense. This, however, does not excuse individuals from being responsible for their own safety. Any outdoor activity requires common sense and thought before action. This personal responsibility is expected of all participants with respect to age. We realize some students have more difficulty than others in the area of self-monitoring personal safety. If you feel your child may need extra attention in this area, please let us know. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us and we will share with you our comprehensive risk-management plan and protocols.
Some of our programs, such as advanced remote expeditions, Class IV white water paddling, advanced rock climbing and caving, go far beyond what children are allowed to do in a typical camp. In such programs, there may be an increased level of risk due to unpredictable environments. Participation in these advanced programs is a privilege that students earn through hard training, experience, and the development of exceptional personal qualities. In addition to this privilege, there must be trust between families and Kroka’s teachers, with mutual respect and the awareness that while all safety precautions are taken, there is an inherent risk involved that must be understood and accepted.
Interested and concerned parents often ask us for day-by-day itineraries for our programs. While we are always happy to give a general outline of a program's activities, curriculum, and area of travel, we cannot provide a location or time-specific itinerary. An important part of our teaching philosophy is to follow the needs of a particular group of children as they evolve - and retain the flexibility to best respond to the changing weather and environmental conditions, as well as the particular skills and abilities of our teaching team. Our office and program directors are always kept aware of changes in plans, and we look forward to sharing the details with you once we reunite at the conclusion of the program.
All programs have time set aside for students to be by themselves in nature. This time allows for one to sit quietly and reflect away from the activity of the day. Advanced summer, middle and high school, and semester programs typically have a group solo component to their experience. This is done with groups after they have spent time learning all the necessary skills of living and traveling on expedition, and have demonstrated their ability to successfully complete these tasks independantly. Depending on the group and age this can take many different forms. It may be for the duration of one full day, one day and one night, or in semester programs it may be for a few days. In the end, the decision to offer the students a solo experience is always determined during the program by the curriculum, the environment, and a thorough assessment of the students by the teaching team.
LEARNING TO USE TOOLS
During most programs we teach students, at age-appropriate times, to use sharp tools such as knives, saws and axes for wilderness craft projects, preparing meals, and cutting and splitting firewood. While we instruct students on safe and appropriate use of these tools, continuously remind them of all safety precautions, and supervise them during their use, it remaind likely that some students will still cut themselves while working. This is a normal part of learning about sharp tools.
ON THE ROAD
As we travel around New England in pursuit of wilderness adventure, there are times when adventures begin before we reach our destination: Someone’s car breaks down and they need help, an animal has been hit and needs attention, etc. With the safety of our students as our utmost priority, we do not stop indiscriminately. However, when appropriate and safe, helping people and animals alongside the road can be a great lesson in responsibility. This policy of the school is central to our philosophy of developing responsible citizens who view society as their extended community.
Students may not bring any medications unless indicated on their Medical Questionnaire. This includes over the counter pain medications. All medications will be carried and dispensed by Kroka’s teachers unless, prior to the program, parents have made other arrangements. Please give all medications to your child’s teacher after the parent circle and include dosage and other written instructions directly on the Medical Questionnaire.
It has been our experience that many students who are taking Ritalin during the school year to help with focus have done well without medication while at Kroka. If this is something you would like to consider for your child we would be happy to discuss this with you.
All lead teachers are Certified Wilderness First Responders. Homeopathic and herbal remedies such as Arnica and Echinacea are some of the natural products we use to help with healing. Our most common injuries are shallow knife cuts and scraped feet, however we are always prepared to treat serious injuries. Prompt professional backcountry treatment is given to serious injuries and conventional treatment is given to serious injuries in non-remote environments.
You know your child better than anyone else. We want to make sure the children feel ready to come to camp and sleep away from their families for an extended period of time, as children all develop at different rates. It is of course absolutely normal for children to experience some sadness and missing of their families. During moments of homesickness we work to support children by singing, telling stories and jokes, and rubbing backs. If there is some cuddly friend your child would like to bring with him/her to help with these moments, they are more than welcome to do so. We always do our best to make your child feel at home, however if it just does not seem to be the right timing for your child to be here, we will ask you to come and get them. From our past experience, children are not able to invest in camp if they are asked to try it with the promise that if it doesn’t work you (the parents) will come and pick them up. We ask you to carefully consider the question of homesickness on the registration form, and would be more than happy to speak with you about any concerns.
MAIL & PHONE CALLS
While we completely understand the desire to stay connected to your child during a week away from home, we ask parents to refrain from sending letters or making phone calls to your child during the week of camp. It has been our experience that it is hard when one or two students in a group receive mail and others do not. We also do not have a regular time for students to write letters home. Their experience is so short here and we feel it is important for them to be fully engaged in Kroka life, rather than thinking about home, but if your child requests time to write a letter or a card, we would certainly accomodate and encourage this. If you feel strongly about sending your child mail, just let us know. You should also always feel welcome to call our office and see how things are going. Generally speaking, students do not call home during the program, other than in special circumstances. We appreciate your understanding.
DISMISSAL FROM THE PROGRAM
Kroka Expeditions has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol, tobacco, or any substance use or possession during our programs. Students violating this rule will immediately be dismissed from the program. Staff may also dismiss students on the basis of unacceptable behavior. Determination is at the discretion of the staff and is based on the well being of the group as a whole. In the case of unacceptable behavior, the following steps will be taken:
1) Behavior in question will be discussed privately with the student.
2) Parents will be notified of the issue and of possible dismissal.
3) An action plan will be created between the family and Kroka.
4) Failure to comply will result in dismissal. Parents will be called and must come and pick their child up from the program, regardless of where that may be. No refunds are given in the above dismissal situations.
WHAT TO BRING:
(General notes for all programs)
Use this picture of Leo Tolstoy
as a visual aid in how to pack for your trip!
The gear list is very simple. It is our intention to bring less so we can experience more, and we try to provide all the items that people don’t commonly own. We have a limited supply of items from the list to lend to students (at no charge), and other items available to purchase. If you have a choice, pack old things rather than new - there’s less chance of upset if you rip them or get them wet and muddy, not to mention losing them! With all of the above in mind, it is important to prepare well and follow the gear list precisely. If you need to buy new gear, we encourage you to purchase items that are made with respect for the Earth, and by people who are treated fairly. We can suggest responsible gear manufacturers and distributors, or you can purchase certain items in our store. Regarding personal gear, please LABEL ALL ITEMS and do not bring anything other than the items on the list, unless special needs have been previously discussed with your teachers. During program starts, your teachers will go over all your personal gear making sure you have everything you need. You will be asked to leave anything extra in the student gear bay until your program ends. Extra items take up time and space, so it is better not to bring them.
A Special Note about Insect Repellent: We carry all natural bug balm in our first aid kit for campers. During the buggy times of day our teachers will make sure students are covered with long sleeved, light weight clothing or anti bug salve. Homeopathic Sting Stop is offered to students who are bothered by bites.
When packing for Kroka programs, we ask that you pack appropriate attire. Clothing should not be distracting, disrespectful, offensive, or suggestive. *Please do not pack clothing that advertises products, contains vulgar or sexual language, or offensive and scary pictures. Any clothing instructors find inappropriate will be put in student’s gear storage and returned at the end of the trip.
Some modern footwear is hard on the wilderness, compacting and damaging the ground cover. Students are encouraged to walk barefoot whenever appropriate, to develop the awareness of a fox and experience direct contact with the Earth. Since most children have little practice walking barefoot, cuts and bruises to feet are not uncommon. We encourage students to wear moccasins at camp as a great medium between barefoot and shoes, but sneakers and sandals are required for daily activities.
CAMERAS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
We discourage students from bringing cameras, as they could be damaged and/or lost. Our staff take photographs throughout the program that are made available afterward.
We ask that students do NOT bring any electronic devises. Each program that heads into the wilderness carries a cellular phone as an emergency communication device. The ocean programs carry a marine VHF radio. Electronic devices will only be used in emergency situations.
MULTIPLE PROGRAMS AND LAYOVER LOGISTICS
For students needing to stay before, after, or in-between their program(s), arrangements can be made with the office. There is a fee depending on the needs of the student. Please contact the office, 603-835-9087, to request layover arrangements.
CHOOSING A SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM
STUDENT DESIRE AND MOTIVATION
Kroka programs are for any student who truly wants to come. As parents, we all want the best for our children, however, it is important that students want to be at Kroka. It has been our experience that students who come because “my parents told me to,” generally do not enjoy themselves. Please make sure that your child has a genuine interest in Kroka and the activities we do. We want camp to be fun for everyone!
CHANGES IN PROGRAMMING
While we do our best to give an accurate description of program details in our brochure and acceptance packet, there are often last-minute changes that require us to be flexible in our programming. Due to changes in weather, staffing, or group composition we may have to alter our itineraries, activities and teaching staff. We ask that families and students be flexible and understanding.
LENGTH OF PROGRAM
Students are expected to attend the entire program through the closing ceremony on the last day of camp. Please make sure that your travel plans allow for this.
HOW MANY PROGRAMS SHOULD A STUDENT ATTEND DURING A SINGLE SUMMER?
The majority of our students come for one or two programs each summer. If you are considering more than one program, please contact us for suggestions on which combinations will work best and to arrange your stay between sessions.
QUESTIONS ABOUT A PROGRAM?
We always welcome your questions by phone (603) 835-9087, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a list of families of recent students who have agreed to be contacted as a reference. Please feel welcome to call or email to request our reference list.