One weekend per month Sept 2020 – May 2021
Dates for 2020-2021 are up! Registration is NOW OPEN! … we have had a wait list for the past two years, so don’t delay. Tuition assistance options below in the info box.
Re-Wilding and Re-Inspiring
In this world of technology and choice, we find ourselves busier than ever. Many of us feel alienated from the core of life, moving faster than feels healthy, wondering if we are connected to what is truly important.
Yet it has not always been this way. Even in this modern world there is a surefire way to return to ourselves with clarity and strength: nature connection.
Living Earth Adult Foundations—LEAF—is an invitation to remember the most vibrant parts of yourself. For one weekend a month, you have a chance to disconnect from phones and to-do lists, and reconnect to the peace of staring into a fire, the rejuvenation of sleeping under the stars, the inspiration of learning the plants you can eat on the landscape, the joy of laughing and learning with a community of like-minded people.
Our mission is to bring nature connection into your life in a powerful way. We explore skills that build competence and confidence, expand awareness, and create a thriving community of passionate students of life and the natural world.
Graduates say that LEAF has made them more resilient in the face of life’s struggles and sorrows. They say it gave them the courage to make big life changes. They say it helped them feel more at home in their own backyards and more comfortable exploring wild places. Nature connection practices can empower us to feel more grounded and potent in our lives, or as Ryan Eliason says “to become an unstoppable force for good.”
See discount details at bottom of page
Routines of Connection. Learn the art of natural movement, how to use all your senses to listen deeper and connect with the seasonal rhythms of the land. You will explore core practices that help you develop a deep relationship with place that will bear fruit in other aspects of your life.
Wildlife Track and Sign. The forest is teeming with life! You will learn to read animals’ stories on the landscape through tracks, trails, scratches, feeding sign, feathers, bones, kill sites, and trails. Tracking opens up the animal world like nothing else.
Wildcrafting/Plants in Human Life. The “wall of green” is actually made up of hundreds of our plant allies. You will learn identification, ethical harvesting, crafting with natural materials, medicine making, and how to transform greens, fruits, nuts and bark into edible feasts. Crafting useful things with materials from the land is a deeply satisfying creative act.
Tending the Earth. We seek to be in dynamic reciprocity with the earth, recognizing that we are one strand in a complex, beautiful ecology. Humans, in balance, are caretakers of the earth. We will learn to wield our skills and ability to help the earth heal and return to health and vitality.
Survival Skills. Cultivate your creativity and resourcefulness as we practice fire by friction, shelter building, water filtration, stone tools and primitive cooking. These ancient skills bring a sense of satisfaction, competence and belonging.
Inner Tracking and Community. At the heart of healthy community is peacemaking, both within ourselves and in relation with others. We embrace skills of authenticity, reflection, and conscious living. We sing, we share stories, and we co-create culture.
Bird Language. You will learn individual bird identification as well as patterns of vocalizations that allow you to determine if nature is in baseline or is there something creating a disturbance. The birds mirror our awareness of the landscape, giving us a pulse of the web of life.
Who is LEAF?
Since starting the program in 2015, we have had every age decade represented from 20’s to 60’s, as well as various races, religions and orientations. “City-folk” with little to no camping experience have come together with seasoned wilderness therapy instructors and everyone in between. Parents, single people, grandparents, couples…educators, engineers, stay-at-home-parents, health practitioners and military personnel have come. Our collective curiosity about the natural world and our openness to connection has woven sweet threads of community each year.
Core instructors Hub Knott and Erin (Soupy) Campbell guide students with humor, experience and “the beginner’s mind,” the belief that we are all perpetual students. One student reflected, “I was challenged, yet held…Hub and Soupy met me where I was at.” (See our staff bio page for more on Hub and Soupy.)
Here’s how the course works:
Each weekend contains routines like sharing gratitude, making fire, going to our “sit spot” to quietly observe, singing songs, and sharing meals. The weekends generally have a central theme such as tracking, edible plants or bird language, yet we revisit skills and weave together seemingly unrelated elements. Within this structure, we sink into core practices that builds one’s connection to nature and community. Our teaching styles vary, with lots of storytelling, sensory activities that activate less-used parts of our brains, active-bodied games, and many questions. We believe “the learning is in the doing,” which makes for experiential, embodied weekends.
We will have special guest instructors for certain weekends, and we’ll take one or two field trips in the local area.
Come join us in the woods. Take a breath of fresh air, sink your roots in deep, and experience the power of the Earth as Mentor. Step aside, and let the wilderness do the work.
We are passionate about spreading nature connection to whoever wants it, and we are committed to diversifying our programs. Scholarships and work trade opportunities are one way that we encourage this diversity–please see the info box below!
I have learned that I do not need to be on the beautiful LES property in order to feel connected. I have identified the trees and birds in my own backyard, and I have developed a relationship with them. It is very much a life-altering experience that can bring gratitude and awareness to all things.
Details & Registration – LEAF – opens late May 2020
- September 2020 – May 2021. One weekend a month, Saturday-Sunday.
Dates: Sept 19-20, Oct 17-18, Nov 21-22, Dec 12-13, Jan 9-10, Feb 6-7, March 6-7, April 10-11, May 1-2
- 9am Saturday — Sunday 3pm. **While programming will officially end on Saturday around 4 or 5pm, there will be a dinner break and optional programming on Saturday evenings. Staying on Saturday nights is fun and builds community, but we understand and support folks needing to check in with children or other responsibilities on Saturday nights. Sunday class generally starts back up at 9am.
- Afton, Virginia
- $1795 regular tuition.
Early Bird: $1695 August 1 or earlier.
Buddy Discount: Sign up with a friend or family member and get $100 off each (early bird discounts still apply).
Please make sure to scroll to the bottom of our Financial Policies page to see our plan for if LEAF is delayed or if we cannot meet in person some weekends due to COVID.
Registration ends Sunday, September 6
- Accommodations: Tent space on the land, commute from home or find lodging nearby (note that we are 25 minutes from a hotel, though there are likely AirBnBs in the area).
Meals: Bring your own meals. Propane stove and basic kitchen setup available, however due to COVID we encourage folks to bring their own cooking setup.
Tuition Assistance: For information about partial work-trade or scholarship, please read this google doc. Then click here to apply for work trade, or click here to apply for a scholarship. Applications are due by Sunday Aug 15, 2020. Contact email@example.com with any other questions about work trade or scholarship.
What the Kalahari Bushmen Taught Me
Hub’s reflections after a trip to Kenya in 2011
When I went to Africa a few years back, I saw a community of the Bushman that was so deeply connected with their home landscape it was breathtaking. They had what they call “ropes of connection” to all the plants, animals, insects, soils, rocks, sky, and the Creator. They were masterfully competent with all their skills. Each person’s gifts were honored and integrated into the community. Though not financially rich, they were the happiest people I have ever been around, and deeply rich in spirit. It was infectious. They had processes that kept their community strong, and core activities that they did over and over every day that kept them vital and connected to nature and creation. Their success as a culture, for so long, was not random—it was by thoughtful and practical design.
This trip confirmed to me that the core routines we have practiced and taught at LES from our beginnings have been right on target. We have seen many people in our programs come alive with child-like curiosity, feel more love for life, develop more empathy, feel more connected, empowered, centered, and full of peace. People comment on the quiet and calm they feel in side, while on the outside, a sparkle and zest for life can be seen in their eyes.
I am grateful for all my mentors, the Bushmen included, who have cultivated these skills in me, and I am honored to pass them on through LEAF.