All programs at Kroka incorporate a core curriculum that supports the growth of us all to become better human beings.
Young people are full of bright ideas. It is the work of education to cultivate qualities that allow youth to turn their ideas into a living reality. The power to do so lives within our will. At Kroka we distinguish between egoistic will (the capacity to put effort towards accumulation of individual wealth and power) and altruistic will (the capacity to serve the greater good).
At Kroka we understand that cooperation is an important factor influencing human development and evolution. We experience countless examples of mutualism and symbiosis observing the plant and animal world. Immersed in nature, we must rely on one another to meet our most basic needs of fire, water, food and shelter; effective cooperation is essential to our success.
Our relationship to the land begins every day with morning chores. Students wake early to work on the farm producing the food for their daily meals, cut and split firewood for heating and cooking, draw water from the well or stream, and cook breakfast over the open fire. Through handcrafts we understand the work required to produce material things – the spoons we eat with or the bags we carry. As we enter into deeper relationships with resources, we begin to appreciate the simple gifts and comforts of our lives.
In nature we shed the layers of our differences and stand as equals with one another. Landing on a wilderness island after a long day of paddling in the rain, we share a simple one-pot meal cooked over the fire. It is community and the human spirit that matters! We have the opportunity to see each other as who we truly are, in our strengths and our vulnerabilities. The wilderness provides space for students’ individual gifts to be illuminated. This new sense of knowing one another after having shared a unique experience builds lasting relationships that carry into the future.
At Kroka, we recognize that risk taking is essential for balanced human development. When we create opportunities for healthy risk taking, adolescents develop judgment and decision-making skills. They learn how to use awareness and observation to aid common sense. These are essential qualities that guide the direction of our lives in healthy ways. We are not only weighing the potential benefits and consequences of taking risks, but also of not taking risks. What if we do not create connection with nature and it is lost? What if we lose the ability to find north due to over dependence on technology? We cannot afford to not take risks!
Being in nature forces us to wake up to what it means to be fully present and focus entirely on the task at hand. This in turn allows us to experience the elements more deeply with one another and with ourselves. Living in the moment, we begin to notice subtle colors and movements, smell the rich aroma of the forest, and observe the sun and the stars. We feel grateful, and our senses become attuned to the rhythm and encounters of the world. From this awareness, a focused discipline and learned calm are born. It is both a skill and a gift to live in the present moment.
Moving through the landscape as a community, students develop a sense of place that invites appreciation for the earth. From the simple pleasures of working with our hands to create food, fuel, and shelter, a sense of purpose and responsibility is born.
Students experience quiet contemplation, nature observation, and the exhilaration of moving to the edge of their comfort zone. They learn to take risks, share what is in their hearts in an evening circle around the fire, and deepen relationships with their peers. Students return home from their Kroka experience with newfound confidence and maturity.
At Kroka we are committed to making transformational education in nature accessible to all children, regardless of their circumstances or background. In addition to serving independent schools from across the country, Kroka maintains an ongoing relationship with local public schools, inner-city schools from throughout New England, and community groups. We partner with teachers and school leaders and donate our time and services to those in need.
Eating well is integral to our intention of nurturing our connection to the earth. Students gather ingredients from the farm, garden, and forest. They cook, clean and tend the fire. Students learn to construct a “spunhungen” from which to hang cook pots, build a fire high above the snow on a fire-screen, or roast bread on a stick. Our mealtime tradition welcomes song and blessings in gratitude for the food we eat.
The Kroka Farm is an essential part of our curriculum. While at basecamp students rise with the sun to help with daily chores: mucking stalls, collecting eggs, milking, and delivering wood with horse and wagon. Students participate in making cheese, yogurt, and preserving food for their expeditions. When we depart for the wilderness, we are carrying with us the fruits of our labor: farm-fresh eggs, milk, and vegetables to nourish our bodies during the expedition. Through this work on the farm, students learn about the interconnectedness of healthy soils, healthy people, and a healthy planet.