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Fells Forest Camp

Friends of the Fells Forest Camp summer programming provides nature-based, experiential learning opportunities for children ages 4-12.  

Our program engages children in self-guided explorations of the forest, helping to develop their curiosity, critical thinking, and sense of connection with nature. 

Our dedicated instructors provide positive and enriching learning opportunities for children through unstructured time-in-nature, opportunistic nature interpretation, and by encouraging self-directed learning and exploration.

The health and welfare of our campers and staff is our highest priority. Last summer we adapted camp operations to provide a safe season of camp to hundreds of families. We’re building on this experience in our preparations for camp in 2021, coordinating reopening plans with DCR and the Medford Board of Health, and ensuring our camp will comply with all guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

 

We have adjusted our registration and refund policies to accommodate the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.  To better support Forest Camp families and provide greater flexibility in making summer plans for your child:

  • We will provide a full refund to any family who wishes to cancel their registration for any reason. We just ask that refund requests be provided in writing no later than two weeks before the session start date so we can adjust our staffing levels to accommodate the change. Please submit your refund request via email to forestcamp@fells.org.
  • All session transfer requests will be accommodated at no charge, as long as space is available. Please contact us as soon as you know of a scheduling conflict and we will work with you to reschedule your child’s summer camp experience to the best of our ability. We will do our very best to adjust our capacity to meet the needs of the community and may need to wait list your child while we work to expand our offerings.
  • If a camp session must be cancelled due to a state order, we will contact you to explore rescheduling options. If your child’s camp experience cannot be rescheduled, we will promptly issue you a full refund.

Forest Camp registrations represent a significant share of our annual income. If camp sessions are cancelled due to a state order or if sessions are not filled to normal levels, our ability to protect the well-being of the Fells and offer safe and enjoyable recreational forest programming will be significantly weakened. If you must cancel, and have the ability to consider converting all or a portion of your registration fee into a tax-deductible donation to support the Friends of the Fells, we greatly appreciate your consideration at this critical time.

Our Philosophy

Our summer program follows an experiential, immersive, and all-weather model where daily learning is inspired and directed by the interests of each child.

Children’s time at camp is not bound by a rigid schedule, but rather filled with a multitude of nature activities, including bug-catching, bird-watching, rock skipping, puddle-stomping, creating with found materials, exploring secret hideouts, and even just running around.  Our instructors encourage self-directed exploration and scientific curiosity every day.

Allowing children to explore the forest through communal, child-motivated, hands-on activities absent of standardized instruction promotes confidence, independence, self-regulation, self-esteem, and creativity in children of all ages and from all backgrounds. Fells Forest Camp allows children to learn in, learn about, and learn from the outdoors.


Learning Strategies

Fells Forest Camp is based closely on the ‘Forest Kindergarten’ and ‘Forest School’ educational models. We are committed to maintaining small group sizes with a high student to teacher ratio—sessions are generally capped at ten children per day, and we strive to maintain a 1:5 ratio of counselors to campers.

Our counselors are trained in experiential education strategies, and actively engage with campers to  expand and reflect on their experiences through directed questions, encouragement of experimentation and creativity, and providing the space for children to take the initiative in their learning and problem solving.

For younger-aged children, our primary goal is to stimulate children’s curiosity about the natural world and develop critical thinking skills through self-guided exploration and problem solving. For older children, Fells Forest Camp also seeks to inspire interest in nature-based science learning and inquiry, encourage self-sufficiency, healthy risk assessment, collaboration skills, and promote ecological literacy, conservation ethics, and natural stewardship practices.

To learn more about our philosophy and learning strategies, see our Educational Resources and References page.


2021 Schedule

Our Summer 2021 camp will run from Monday, June 28th through Friday, August 27th, in 9 single-week sessions:

 

Week 1:  Mon. June 28th – Fri. July 2nd

Week 2 (**Short Holiday Wk.):  Wed. July 7th – Fri. July 9th

Week 3:   Mon. July 12th – Fri. July 16th

Week 4:  Mon. July 19th – Fri. July 23rd

Week 5:  Mon. July 26th – Fri. July 30th

Week 6:  Mon. Aug. 2nd – Fri. Aug. 6th

Week 7:  Mon. Aug. 9th – Fri. Aug. 13th

Week 8:  Mon. Aug. 16th – Fri. Aug. 20th

Week 9:  Mon. Aug. 23rd – Fri. Aug. 27th

 


Sessions

The Friends of the Fells offers camp sessions in three age groups:

BEFORE YOU REGISTER:
please review our Camp Policies and Registration Guidelines thoroughly!

Forest Kindergarten
(ages 4 to 5)

Forest Explorers
(ages 5+* to 7)

Forest Adventurers
(ages 8 to 12)

REGISTER HERE REGISTER HERE REGISTER HERE

Location: Medford High School,
489 Winthrop St., Medford

 

— AM Session (9-11:30 AM)

— PM Session (12:30-3 PM)

Location: Medford High School,
489 Winthrop St., Medford

— AM Session (9-11:30 AM)

— PM Session (12:30-3 PM)

— All-Day (9AM to 4PM)

Location: Medford High School,
489 Winthrop St., Medford

— AM Session (9-11:30 AM)

— PM Session (12:30-3 PM)

— All-Day (9AM to 4PM)

Our youngest campers enjoy nature exploration activities under the careful eye of counselors with experience in early childhood education. Activities are focused on engaging your child’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity of the natural world. An emphasis on kindness to the natural world and cooperation with peers and instills a nature ethic and builds a foundation of positive experiences in nature.

NOTE: Forest Kindergarten is only available in half-day sessions. There is no all-day session offered because it can be too taxing for children of this age to be outdoors that long. We want their first experience in nature to be positive!

Campers range a bit further into the woods in their explorations with naturalist-guides who help open their eyes to the unique habitats, trees, animals, rocks, and other natural features of the woods. Children are given opportunities to exercise their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Explorers also experience collaborative decision-making and are introduced to topics of stewardship and nature-protection.

NOTE: some five-year-olds may be more comfortable with slower-paced programming, especially if this is their first experience in an all-outdoor classroom setting. So, please consider both Forest Kindergarten and Explorers levels to see what is right for your child.

Our oldest cohort of campers, Forest Adventurers foray even deeper into the forest, with longer hikes that emphasize self-sufficiency, healthy risk assessment, and plenty of outdoor science learning and inquiry. Collaboration skills are  explored, and ecological literacy, conservation ethics, and natural stewardship concepts are introduced.

 

 

 


2020 Rates

Half Day (AM or PM): $200
Full Day (9AM to 4PM):  $450
Half Day (Wk. 2; 3 camp days):   $120  
Full Day (Wk. 2; 3 camp days):    $270  


For information on camp rules, registration policies, and procedures,
visit our Policies and Logistics page.

For general summer guides and parent and caregiver information,
visit our More Information page.



 

Questions? Contact us at forestcamp@fells.org.

 

Please note that any photos depicting children without face coverings were taken prior to 2020.