“We named our school after Kroka, our six year old Alaskan Husky. Kroka loves all people. She never starts dogfights and always wiggles her tail, giving slobbery kisses to everyone. She loves to be out in the wild and sleep on the snow, as much as she does eating out of the compost pile and sneaking onto the couch at night. She is an independent explorer and expedition route finder. A kind of ideal trip companion, she also serves as a pot washer and gives us no trouble, as long as she chooses to stick around the group.”
– Taken from the first published Kroka programs guide in 1997
In 1996 Misha Golfman and Lynne Boudreau founded Kroka Expeditions as a year-round adventure school. They were both public school teachers as well as instructors for Outward Bound and guides for Mahoosuc Guide Service in Maine. While in graduate school at Antioch New England, Misha conceived of the idea of Kroka, and the project became the theme of his thesis. He brought to the curriculum his experience teaching in the United States, as well as his background of being raised in the “Russian outdoor tradition,” traveling, learning, and teaching in the wilderness.
Misha and Lynne saw that they had something different than the traditional outdoor education model to offer. They wanted to make experiences more engaging, inviting, dynamic and meaningful for children, so that students carried a longer lasting connection to nature and community. They did this through centering the community building elements of outdoor education around communal work, the expedition lifestyle, and practical earth living skills.
Kroka started as a summer camp program at Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro, VT and then in 1998 moved to Trollhaugen Farm in Newfane, VT. The land had a beautiful creek running through it and a hillside of huge pines that supported the growth of the program from its humble beginning of 35 students to an enrollment of 240. Programs expanded to include sustainable small building design and construction, forestry, farming, fiber arts, subsistence hunting, paddling, climbing/caving, and wilderness living.
Gardens were started at Trollhaugen where students were involved in the development and care of growing food. Chickens were added, Brita the work pony joined the family, and then Miss Muffet and Bo Peep the sheep arrived to keep Brita company, eat the poison ivy, and provide wool to insulate the chickens’ dwellings.
Once Kroka moved to Marlow, NH, a heifer was purchased and Kroka began producing milk in 2011, adding a new calf each year. The care of the animals and the growing of food are seen as an integral part in the education of youth, and all students participate in the farming program. The farm also provides healthy, nutritious, local products for the community.
In 1999, Kroka began running school programs in the spring, fall and winter seasons. Today we work with students in grades K-12 from schools around the country, supplementing and supporting their class curriculum through expeditions and wilderness skills programs. Serving local youth has always been an integral part of Kroka’s mission. From the beginning Kroka offered afterschool programs, and we now work with over 8 local schools, donate 11 days a year to Perkins Elementary School in Marlow, and provide programs during school vacations.
In 2004, we launched the Vermont Semester (now called Arctic to Manhattan). This began from a desire to offer a more in-depth program, as Misha had experienced with his outdoor club students in Russia. A second semester program was added in 2007 out of a shared dream with our beloved Ecuadorian staff who joined us in 2003. They started Nahual Expediciones on the land of their childhood home and a strong partnership grew out of the co-creation of the Ecuador Semester (now called Andean Peaks).
Since, we have created two additional itineraries, the Roaring Canyons Semester and Legends of the Rio Grande Semester. We now offer two high school/gap year semester programs annually that rotate itineraries. Both high school and college credits are available to semester students.
Kroka’s founding vision was to bring children into nature through the context of adventure sports such as white water paddling, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking, and mountaineering. These technical skills are paired with a curriculum of natural sciences, traditional and indigenous craft skills, arts and music, and the philosophy of simplicity. The curriculum is brought into the experience in measured doses as participants become ready for them. The teaching focus is always on positive change in the world, our responsibility as humans to contribute to society, and the wonders and power of connection to nature.
Waldorf pedagogy is an integral part of our approach, and experienced Waldorf educators join Kroka programs each summer to share their teaching experience and learn how we work with children in the outdoors.
2007 – present
Our move to Marlow, NH took place in 2007. We were growing beyond the land at Trollhaugen Farm and began developing a vision for a permanent Kroka campus. In 2006 we met with all of our staff, and under the guidance of Grandfather Ray Reitze envisioned what was important to have on the new Kroka campus in order to best serve youth and our mission.
In the fall, the first place we looked at was a farmhouse at Seven Oaks Farm in Marlow, NH. We found many of our wishes from the list to be there, signed the mortgage in the spring of 2007, and moved the whole organization in four weeks: structures, animals, gear, and people. This was an amazing feat, and was only possible due to the incredible help and support of our Kroka families, neighbors and supporters.
The campus has grown tremendously since then. It now has a refreshing swimming pond, many staff dwelling tents, a beautiful timber frame boat house where much of our gear is stored, a spectacular farm barn that is home to our four legged family, developed trails in the forest, and more. The most recent project has been the reconstruction of the 200 year old farmhouse that was on the property when it was purchased. It is now a model living building that will carry the organization into a sustainable future. Along with the growth of the physical infrastructure has come the growth of a strong team of committed staff and a dedicated board of trustees as well. We are beyond grateful for all that we have, and are proud to serve over 1000 students each year.