Forest School is all about asking questions, learning, and growing together! We’ve put together this Frequently Asked Questions page to help answer the most common questions we get. If your question is not listed here, please submit your question(s) on the “Contact Us” page on this website: https://wildchildns.ca/contact-us/

A lot of the information about our programs is available in our Caregvier Handbook. You can download and read the Caregiver Handbook here: https://wildchildns.ca/for-caregivers/

Questions about Forest School Programs:

What is Forest School? — Forest Schools aim to provide children with the means of exploring, learning, wondering, wandering, creating, and playing at their own pace in a natural setting that they visit over an extended period of time. The goal of forest schools is to help children and youth find inspiration, build self confidence, and develop healthy self esteem through skill development, hands on activities, and outdoor experiences. Forest schools have been around internationally since their start in Denmark in the 1950’s. Much of the recent interest in the movement is due in part to research suggesting that over-scheduled days, increasing sedentary activities and screen time, and less time in nature is normal for many children’s lives in our busy modern world. Forest school provides children with the opportunity to unplug, engage in healthy physical development, and to have positive experiences in nature.

What does a day at Forest School look like? — Wild Child Forest School is based on child-led, play-based learning. So the short answer is that no two days at Forest School are alike! However, there are some aspects of Forest School that stay the same. We begin and end each program with a sharing circle. Full day programs have two snack breaks, one lunch break, and 45 minutes of solo quiet time (where children relax in hammocks, read books, draw, colour, nap, or just enjoy nature!). Half day programs have one snack break. During the rest of the day we play games, go hiking, climb trees, explore the site, do nature activites, make crafts, use hand tools, build forts and shelters, share stories, etc.

What are your staff-to-participant ratios? — 1:4 for children under the age of 4. 1:7 for children over the age of 4.

How can I recieve updates about Wild Child Forest School programs? — By following us on Instagram and/or Facebook or by signing up for our email list here: https://wildchildns.ca/contact-us/

Can I, as a caregiver, join the program with my child? — All of our programs are drop-off, but if you would like to volunteer email wildchild@sierraclub.ca and we can get you set up.

Registering for Forest School

When does registration open? — Registration dates change depending on the year and on the sites we use. For the most up-to-date information on registration please check out our “Programs” page: https://wildchildns.ca/programs/

How do I register? — All registration is done through ACTIVE Network. When regsitration is open, you can register for any of the available programs by following this link: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/SierraClubCanadaFoundation

Do I need to create an account in advance? — No need to create an acount on ACTIVE Network in advance! When the registartion link is active, you can add the desired program(s) to your cart, click on “continue” in the cart/basket section, and then enter your email and the required registration info!

Can I register for a waitlist? — Absolutely! If the program(s) of your choice is full, you can register for a waitlist by following this link: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/SierraClubCanadaFoundation

Can I register after a program has already started? — If there is still space available in the program, yes! If the program is full, registration will be closed on the day the program starts.

Preparing for Forest School programs:

What does my child need to wear to Forest School? — Sturdy, close-toed shoes are a must! We highly recommend long, breathable pants tucked into socks to help prevent scratches, scrapes, bug bites, and ticks. Please send your child with extra layers that they can add and remove by themselves. Remember, it gets cooler in the forest than it does in the city, even summer days can get chilly! For all of our clothing tips & tricks please visit our information page for caregivers: https://wildchildns.ca/for-caregivers/

Do I need to send rainboots every day? — No! Rainboots are heavy to carry, especially for younger children. Please check the weather before heading out to Forest School for the day. If it has been dry and if there is no rain in the forecast, you do not need to send your child with rainboots. For all of our clothing tips & tricks please visit our information page for caregivers: https://wildchildns.ca/for-caregivers/

What does my child need in their backpack? — Spare clothing in a bag, water bottle, nut-free snacks and lunch, sunscreen (non-aerosol only), bug repellant (non-aerosol only), extra sweater, spare socks, hand sanitizer (if possible). Full day program participants may bring a book, small blanket, and/or stuffed animal for quiet time. Please keep in mind this item may get dirty or lost. Please do not bring: toys, pocket knives or other tools (unless permission has been given by Wild Child staff members in advance), electronic devices including cell phones, mp3 players, and gaming devices.

What about sunscreen and bugspray? — Wild Child staff will have sunscreen and bugspray on hand. If sending your child with bugspray and sunscreen, please make sure they are non-aerosol only. We encourage children to apply their own sunscreen and bugspray, with staff supervising and offering verbal guideance. Staff can help children apply sunscreen and bugspray if permission is given by caregivers in advance. Sunscreen and bugspray are applied as needed throughout the day. If you have special instructions for how/when your child should be applying bugspray and/or sunscreen please include them on your registration form.

Do programs ever get cancelled? — Because our programs are run 100% outside, when hazardous weather conditions are present we will have to cancel programs. Hazardous weather conditions include: forecasted chance of thunderstorms and/or lightning; sustained winds at, or above, 40km/hr; winds gusting at, or above, 70km/hr; severe temperatures: feels like +32 or below -28 with the wind chill; forest fires; heavy rainfall, wind, and/or flood warnings; or any other events or weather conditions that could endanger the safety of participants and staff.

Please check the weather in the morning before programs start. If programs are cancelled, you will receive an email before 8am or a phone call after 8am. We do not offer refunds for days missed due to weather events and/or hazardous conditions. We do try to reschedule missed days whenever possible. For more information please visit: https://wildchildns.ca/for-caregivers/

What can I pack in my child’s lunch/snack? — We ask that you please refrain from sending your child to our programs with peanuts and/or treenuts because of the high prevelance of life threatening nut allergies. A litterless lunch is encouraged but not necessary. Please note, most of our sites do not have garabage cans so any garbage packed in will have to be packed out.

Are there washrooms at your Forest School sites? — Yes and no! Some of our more remote wilderness sites no not have washrooms facilities. In these cases, we designate secluded areas for washroom use. We do have a portable composting toilet for #2s when in these areas. If you think your child may have reservations about using the washroom outdoors, please speak with them before the start of the program. Please note: we do not change diapers, pull-ups, and/or wipe private areas for anyone in our programs.

Where do I drop-off/pick-up my child? — The drop-off locations are different for each of our sites. The current drop-off/pick-up location for our Bedford program in Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area is at the Hobson’s Lake Trailhead at the end of Colins Rd (150 Colins Rd., Bedford). The current drop-off/pick-up location for our Cole Harbour program at the Cole Harbour Heritage Park is in the main parking lot (263 Bissett Rd., Cole Harbour. By the red Program and Maintenance Buildings). Maps of the program sites, including drop-off areas, can be viewed on our “Programs” page: https://wildchildns.ca/programs/

Questions about Forest School policies:

What is your cancellation policy? — Wild Child Forest School is a small social enterprise and there is an investment of time and energy into administration, managing information, and processing payment at our end that needs to be accounted for. If you would like us to cancel your child’s registration, please let us know as soon as possible. If cancellation occurs before 4 weeks of the start of the program, a full refund is given.* If cancellation occurs less than 4 weeks before the start of a program, there is a $50 administration fee. If cancellation occurs less than 2 weeks prior to the start of the program, your entire payment is forfeited. *Please note: When cancelling a registration, a 6.25% fee will automatically be deducted from your refund by ACTIVE Network. Wild Child NS does not keep any of the money from that fee. You can view our cancellation policy here: https://wildchildns.ca/cancellation-policy/

What if a program is cancelled due to COVID-19? — If Wild Child Forest School programs have to be cancelled because of COVID-19 closures, restrictions, and/or regulations all fees for the cancelled weeks* will be refunded. If your child(ren) has to stay home because of COVID-19 symptoms or because they have been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, please contact wildchild@sierraclub.ca for information on receiving a refund for any dates that were missed. Refunds will NOT be issued for travel outside of Nova Scotia. *Please note: When cancelling a registration, a 6.25% fee will automatically be deducted from your refund by ACTIVE Network. Wild Child NS does not keep any of the money from that fee.

Do I need to purchase cancellation insurance from ACTIVE Network? — When registering for any Wild Child programs, you do NOT need to purchase COVID-19 cancellation insurance from ACTIVE Network. If we have to cancel programs due to COVID-19, we will refund the fees for all cancelled weeks. We cannot issue refunds for ACTIVE Network insurance policies if they are purchased.

What are your COVID-19 poicies? — Our most up-to-date COVID-19 policies can be found here: https://wildchildns.ca/covid-19-policies-regulations/

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