ELEMENTAL ADVENTURES: Homeschool Nature Education

Weekly nature programs for homeschooled youth. Programs are available for groups to contract for a day, season, year, or years. My focus is on long term cultural mentoring, balancing the cultivation of ecological and naturalist intelligences along with social and emotional intelligence. We seek to learn about our bioregion, our various watersheds, their plant communities, and the species we share the trails with. Beyond naturalist knowledge, we practice ancestral skills such as basketry, carving, friction fire, working with clay, and more. Through games and activities on the trail, we cultivate nature awareness which supports a natural sense of mindfulness, noticing what’s happening in the present moment. 2022-2023 school year will focus curriculum on land care and ecological restoration. From a foundation in ecology and watershed awareness, we will study local endangered species and their habitats, then learn how to take care of them in home gardens, local farms, and in the wild lands. We will explore permaculture as an approach to integrated ecological design building skills to support students’ capacity to take action.

Classes will be held in wild lands, local organic farms, and permaculture demonstration sites throughout the county.

Thursdays around Marin County: Private Group

Wednesdays around Marin County – Private Group

Curriculum will focus on oceanography and Marin biology. From tide-pooling to volunteering with the Marin Mammal Center, we will build relationships with marine wildlife. We will explore water quality in the Bay Area and engage locally in beach clean-ups and restoration projects. We will connect with global efforts to take care of the ocean and freshwater. The focus will be on positive change on individual and community scales that make global impacts.

ELEMENTAL QUEST: (Multi)Year-long rites of passage for 7th & 8th graders

For School-associated programs and more information, click here

In this program, we will weave skills of outer and inner nature. We will dive deep into nature awareness and naturalist knowledge as well as ancestral arts and survival skills. Beyond the hard skills, we will also explore our inner nature. From song and storytelling, fire-side council and talking circles, non-violent communication and peacemaking, we will explore what it means to be human, to be a teen, and to be alive in the current global reality. The focus will always be on connection, as we explore the concentric rings of relating to self, community, Nature.

Our day-longs will focus on cultivating a particular skill, while the campouts give us more time to develop relational mindfulness and build connection together. The entire arc of the program is intended to lead up to a summer backpacking trip with a wilderness solo, where each participant gets to be alone with themselves, the wilderness, the night sky. Guides will support preparation and integration.

This program includes seasonal parent meetings, so that we can build a container in which we have a sense of their journey in and out of program. Weaving the parent community is also a beautiful way to create a wider circles of ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles.’ We will have all-family potlucks on the conclusion of some of our daylongs as well.

Outline of the program
Fall: Overnight and two day-longs
Winter: Two day-longs
Spring: Overnight and two day-longs
Summer: Weeklong backpacking trip and solo ceremony
Fall: Final overnight with family closing ceremony on Sunday

Dates for 2023-2024 coming soon

*Open enrollment by application, groups starting fall for 8th graders and spring for 7th graders

**Private groups are an option too – based on school class, communities, friend groups (structure can meet the needs of the group, be it a longer backpacking trip, or other seasonal rhythms that work for your community)

Outer Nature Skills: Nature awareness games, plant identification & foraging wild foods, knot-tying, making and tending fire by friction, knife safety skills, wood-working/carving
Inner Nature Skills: Group connection, storytelling, gratitude, mindfulness, ancestry

Outer Nature Skills: Tracking, bird language, shelter building, water purification, wild herbal teas
Inner Nature Skills: Peacemaking, non-violent communication, relationship

Outer Nature Skills: Herbal medicine-making, archery
Inner Nature Skills: Responsibility, goal-setting, commitments

Outer Nature Skills: Backpacking, Map and compass, natural history of the Sierra Nevada, astronomy
Inner Nature Skills: Leading the group, solitude, self-care

Outer Nature Skills: Completion and giveaway of crafts made
Inner Nature Skills:Appreciation and acknowledgement, Integration

The cost is a sliding scale: $3300-$3600-$3900, pay at the rate you can afford.

Contact me for application and registration info: elementaln8ture@gmail.com

ELEMENTAL LEADERSHIP: Wilderness skills and leadership for teens

Ongoing trips and training in wilderness skills and leadership for teens. Programs available include backpacking trips, overnight camping, canoe camping, daylongs, one-on-one mentoring

June 24-28, 2022: A 5-day immersion north of Mt. Shasta on 1800 acres of private land. We’ll be weaving work, ceremony, connection, and mentoring while learning from elders and wisdom keepers. The first of more to come, this long weekend will be an opportunity to connect with friend and peers as well as a cast of ‘uncles.’ From work and play, meals and medicine-making, songs and stories, this will be a rare chance to practice life-affirming ways for body, mind, and spirit. This trip is by invite-only.

Contact me for details

Fall 2022: September/October (dates TBD) – Overnight kayaking trip on Tomales Bay: Join us for a weekend of exploring the water by day and night. We’ll be in the dark moon and have a night paddle for bioluminescence.

Winter 2023: February 17-20 Mt Shasta Snow Shoe Adventure: We’ll be opening this trip to enrollment based on prior connection with Spencer. We’ll spend the weekend exploring the mountains by day and staying cozy in an Air BnB by night.

Spring 2023: May (dates TBD) – Weekend campout in the foothills of the Sierra, tending land and engaging in ceremony. We

Summer 2023: June (dates TBD) – Weeklong trip weaving backpacking, ancestral skills, land stewardship, medicine making, ceremony

Elemental Adventures

Homeschool youth programs focusing on nature immersion, naturalist knowledge, and ancestral skills.

Elemental Quest

Coming of age rites of passage programs, for 8th and 9th grade boys.

Elemental Leadership

Teen programs for ongoing development of leadership and service through backpacking, service projects, and apprenticeships.

“Spencer Nielsen has been our son’s teacher and mentor for many years and has honestly been one of the best people in our lives.  Our son is homeschooled and has learned so much through his outdoor studies with Spencer.  I am always so impressed with the knowledge that he shares and also with the way that he relates to the students in his groups.  We are so lucky to know Spencer!”
-Parent, Vilda’s Dirt Time Homeschool program