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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.

Friends of the Middlesex Fells Forest Camp COVID-19 Update (4/1/20)

The Friends of the Middlesex Fells is committed to supporting families during this challenging time. While we all practice social distancing to do our part to “flatten the curve” in our community, we are also looking forward to possibilities for spending time in nature together this summer at Forest Camp.

At this writing, we are still hopeful that the 2020 Fells Forest Camp will proceed as planned. However, we also understand that we are all faced with uncertainty, and many are taking a day-to-day approach to planning family activities in the coming months.

Given that summer schedules are unsettled, we have adjusted our registration and refund policies to accommodate the extraordinary circumstances this season due to COVID.

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.

We also want to share with you the challenges Friends of the Fells is facing in the coming months.

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 self-directed, communal, 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.


2020 Schedule

Our Summer 2020 camp will run from Monday, June 22nd through Friday, August 21st, in 9 single-week sessions:

Week 1:  June 22 – June 26

Week 2:  June 29 – July 1 (**Mon. to Wed.)

Week 3:  July 6 – July 10

Week 4:  July 13 – July 17

Week 5:  July 20 – July 24

Week 6:  July 27 – July 31

Week 7:  August 3 – August 7

Week 8:  August 10 – August 14

Week 9:  August 17 – August 21

 

**Please note that Week 2 (June 29 – July 1) is a shortened,
3-day week to accommodate the Independence Day holiday.

 

 

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 8-12)

REGISTER HERE REGISTER HERE REGISTER HERE
Location:  DCR Botume House,
4 Woodland Road, Stoneham

  • AM Session (9-11:30 AM)
  • PM Session (12:30-3 PM)

 

Location:  DCR Botume House,
4 Woodland Road, Stoneham

  • AM Session (9-11:30 AM)
  • PM Session (12:30-3 PM)
  • All-Day (9AM to 4PM)
Location:  DCR Flynn Rink Parking Lot, 300 Elm Street, 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 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-old’s may be more comfortable with slower-paced programming, especially if this is their first experience in an all-outdoor classroom setting.  Please consider both Forest Kindergarten and Explorer levels to see what is right for your child.

Forest Adventurers is centered at the northern end of the DCR Flynn Rink parking area.  Our older campers 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):
Half Day (AM or PM), Week 2:
$175
$105
Full Day (9AM to 4PM): 
Full Day (9AM to 4PM), Week 2: 
$400
$240

 

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 or (781) 662-2340.