Welcome to the Outdoors
Students who visit House In The Wood learn about and gain understanding of the natural world around them while exploring the various environments of our campus. Hands on and interactive lessons provide a much deeper and richer educational experience than can be offered solely in the classroom. Students are able to learn by seeing and taking part in natural processes themselves. And the lessons are fun! This creates a positive impression of the natural world that students take with them, fostering a sense of environmental stewardship.
Benefits of Outdoor Education:
- Knowledge of and affinity for nature
- Real life practice of math and science skills
- Life skill development
- Gaining independence and building confidence
- Practicing teamwork and responsibility
- Improving relationships with peers and teachers
Working as a Team; Growing Together
Along with this essential environmental immersion, our programs help students refine their essential life and social skills in a safe, outdoor environment. Intentional activities and programs are designed to: build cooperation, team dynamics, communication skills and conflict resolution skills - all of which are highly valued in every stage of life. This is not only important for students' futures: it has an immediate impact in the bonds between classmates and teachers. Breaking away from the status quo for a short stay at House In The Wood is often just what is needed to form new friendships, resolve old disputes and get a group of students on the same page.
From the experts:
“...green outdoor spaces foster creative play, improve children’s access to positive adult interaction—and relieve the symptoms of attention-deficit disorders. The greener the setting, the more the relief.”
-Last Child in the Woods
A Home Away From Home; A Home in Nature
The residential experience at House In The Wood is key to the program’s success. While day trips to natural settings are great experiences for students, they can only do so much to instill a lasting affinity for and connection to the environment. Going home at the end of the day means just that - nature is something that you leave when you go home. Residing in a natural setting, however, teaches students to appreciate that they are interdependent with the world around them. Students learn that what happens in the natural world affects them, just as they affect the natural world.
Information for Parents
House In The Wood has been hosting groups of children and young adults for camping and outdoor education experiences for a long time. One thing we've learned is absolutely essential for positive outcomes is providing parents with as much information as possible. A trip to House In The Wood is an exciting opportunity for any student, and the more families learn about our programs the more excited they get! In addition, well-informed parents can make a world of difference in preparing their children for what might be a new experience for their children. We've provided the information below for just those reasons. But if you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact us at any time.
What is Outdoor Education?
Outdoor Education means using the environment as a learning tool. Educators are increasingly seeing the value of authentic learning, which is learning based in real-world experience. You can’t bring a forest, meadow or marsh into the classroom. You must visit these communities to discover the many interrelationships between plants and animals. Nature is the living laboratory where students can develop concerns for the environment by forming a relationship with it. It is our hope that by developing a relationship with nature, students will gain an appreciation and a desire to be good stewards of our natural resources.
Why should my child attend Outdoor Education?
There are many reasons to take advantage of outdoor education opportunities. In fact, there are an infinite number of reasons. Each student gets something a little different out of their experience each time they come to a place like House In The Wood. But there are a few reasons that apply to most students, and they include:
- Improved understanding of science, natural history, ecology and other areas of study
- Increased affinity for and appreciation of nature
- Development of independence and important life skills
- Stronger relationships with peers and teachers
What do students do while they're at House In The Wood?
Lessons, activities and schedules are all tailored for the interests and priorities of each group, so there are any number of things that students might do during their stay. Aside from eating and sleeping, students spend most of their time in a combination of three types of activities:
- Trail lessons
- Team building exercises
- Outdoor recreation
What does my child need to pack and leave behind for their stay?
Great question! Please carefully read the packing list, and pay special attention to prohibited items.
Can I visit House In The Wood? Can I come with my child?
Visitors are always welcome at House In The Wood. If you would like to take a tour of the grounds and meet some of our staff before your child comes for her/his visit, please contact us to arrange a time to do this. Most groups of students will require parent chaperones, so contact your child's teacher or group leader if you interested in coming with your child.
What if my child has medications or dietary restrictions?
House In The Wood is equipped and staffed for the administration of most types of routine medication. This is carried out by our health staff who are in the health center around the clock. Please notify the teacher or group leader about any medical or dietary needs, so that we can make accommodations and be in contact with you if necessary.
How can I contact my child?
Students will not have their cell phones or access to the phones at House In The Wood. You may send an email or fax to our staff which will be printed and delivered to your child. Students are able to write letters home whenever they like. We will always accommodate a phone call in emergency situations.
What if my child gets homesick?
People get homesick - children and adults alike. Our staff understand this and are experienced with getting students of all ages through those rough times. We take the time to listen to students, work through whatever is going on, and find a way to have a positive outcome. If issues persist, we'll communicate with the teachers or group leaders and either they or someone from our staff will contact the parents to get their feedback.
Lessons & Activities
House In The Wood has lessons for grades 3-12 based on Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Follow the links to see some real world lesson plans that we use for 6th graders. Below you can see the main subject areas and activities available at House In The Wood.
Lesson Plan Examples
Through hands-on experiments and observations, students will learn the different aspects of water from marshes, lakes, the water cycle and water monitoring. Students will learn to make a connection between what their lessons, the environment at House In The Wood and how it all affects their lives.
At House In The Wood students will get a chance to observe firsthand the different adaptations and habitats that allow animals to thrive. Through hikes, bird watching, and experimenting students will learn the many different attributes that make up a colorful variety of native animals.
Team-Building and Recreation
Building and maintaining positive relationships with others are central to success in school and life. Doing so requires the ability to recognize the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others, including those different from one’s own. In these exercises, students will practice communication skills, group cooperation, and conflict resolution as they complete the team-building activities.
Most of us climbed a tree or two as children, so we get the idea. Start at the bottom, climb to the top. Tree Climbing at House In The Wood is the same idea taken to a whole new level. Using ropes and harnesses, climbers of all ages and abilities can climb into the tops of the towering oak trees that look over our grounds. Find out more.
Students of all ages have an idea of what a tree looks like. But many are unfamiliar with the actual structure of a tree. In these activities, students will go outdoors to take a closer look at trees and their parts. They will also act out the different parts of trees to better understand their unique and vital functions.
In these lessons students use their experience with invasive species to help restore some green areas with native plants. Students will take the first step towards restoring an area with its native plant species by creating plant starter trays using recycled material. The students will also cover the fundamentals of building a compost pile, learn some of the creatures that live in a compost pile, and see first-hand the benefits of compost for plants. Furthermore, scholars will participate in the process by taking compostable food waste from the dining hall to the camp compost pile.
Insects and other invertebrates are diverse and abundant. They are by far the most plentiful type of animal at House In The Wood! Insect lessons introduce classes to the concept of invertebrates, including where they can be found and how diverse they can be.
Through these lessons students will gain a deeper understanding of what geology is. Students will do this by defining geology, learning the rock cycle, creating the rock cycle and learning to properly identify the rocks around them. In this way they will acquire a better appreciation of the earth’s surface and the world around them.
House In The Wood offers several fun and interesting night programs. Full of songs, skits and s’mores, one of our most popular traditions is an opening campfire. For some students, this is a brand new experience and our staff is trained to make them feel safe and welcome. Other night programs include star-gazing and astronomy, night walks and camp-outs.
Teachers, Schools & Groups
Teachers and other leaders who are interested in bringing their classes or groups to House In the Wood's Outdoor Education Center can find valuable information on this page and in the links below.
Funding your visit
Quality educational experiences cost money, as any educator who receives a paycheck already knows! House In The Wood is no different, but fortunately there are number of ways to fund your group's visit. Start by finding out what funds are available within the school or district's budget; sometimes there is funding for experiences like what we offer. If not, worry not! There are more ways you can make your visit happen, and we'll be here to help you at every step.
It may seem obvious, but it's worth getting out of the way that fundraisers are great for raising funds. A well-executed, student operated fundraiser can easily cover some if not all of the costs of a visit. This could include bake sales, car washes, spaghetti dinners or raffles at school events. Most schools and classes put on fundraisers for various causes and goals, so tap into that experience and don't be afraid to get creative! There many more ideas on the internet, and House In The Wood staff are happy to work with you to make your visit possible.
Another great way to fund your group's visit to apply for private and government grants. The federal government, state governments and private organizations have grants available for the specific purpose of providing outdoor education experiences. We encourage you to look up other grants on your own, but here are just a few to get you started.
- Teachers' Outdoor Environmental Education Fund
- Environmental Education In Wisconsin Website
- Search updated list of grants in Wisconsin
- Conservation Scholarships for Sauk County Residents
- Wisconsin Environmental Education Board - Grant Home Page
Associations for Environmental Education
Educators who are interested in or already involved in outdoor education might consider joining an association or perhaps just looking at what different groups are doing and talking about. These groups are excellent resources for newcomers in search of tips and information, and a great venue for experienced outdoor educators to share what they've learned. Here are just a few links to check out.
- Environmental Education Association of Illinois
- Environmental Education in Wisconsin
- Association for Science Teacher Education
- Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education
Links to Share with Students
Hopefully, the prospect of spending time outdoors, sleeping in a cabin and learning in a new adventurous ways will be an exciting one for your students! To help stoke that excitement, but perhaps also quell some anxieties, we suggest sharing information with students about what to expect from their outdoor education experience. You'll receive information specific to House In The Wood as part of your reservation process, but the links below provide some general information about the outdoors.
- A Walk In The Woods - Interactive video for children (includes Spanish version)
- Wisconsin's Environmental Education for Kids - EEK!
Education Standards and Benchmarks
Now more than ever, educators are held to standards and benchmarks of student outcomes. Our curriculum has been designed specifically to help classes meet and exceed these standards.
Outdoor Activities Wherever You Are
An Outdoor Education experience at House In The Wood is a great opportunity for students to learn through hands on activities. But in between trips to our facilities, we encourage teachers to continue taking their classes outdoors. There are many great resources available for planning outdoor activities, but for an easy way to get inspired, sign up for our seasonal outdoor activities newsletter.
Booking & Planning
Please read all of the information below carefully to ensure a successful visit to the Outdoor Education Center of House In The Wood. Contact us with any questions you may have.
Select Your Dates
The first step making a reservation is to choose the dates for your visit. Then be sure to contact us as soon as possible to reserve the dates. When a group first makes a reservation, a confirmation form is faxed, e-mailed or sent by post to the teacher or coordinator. Please review the confirmation form for accuracy. A $200 non-refundable booking fee is due within two weeks to confirm the reservation. On receipt of this fee, we will contact you to discuss your curriculum and program needs.
Choose Your Curriculum
After discussing your options and figuring out what will work best for your group, we will ask you to finalize your curriculum and program needs while at House In The Wood. Then a contract will be issued. Remember that YOU are the only group on site and we can tailor the entire session to your needs.
Sign Your Contract and Make a Deposit
After receiving the contract packet, the group leader should read the contract agreement carefully to understand the group's obligations and to make sure everything in the agreement is correct (meals, times of arrival and departure, etc.). Especially note the cancellation policy, which normally allows for return of deposit, except for the $200 booking fee, up to 60 days prior to the OEC visit. If there are any questions or changes, contact House In The Wood. There is a deposit of $400 due when you return the contract.
Return Your Contract
Sign and return both copies of the contract, along with the deposit and your certificate of insurance, by the date shown on the contract - usually about one month after its receipt. We will sign and mail one copy back to you long with a planning packet of information.
Declare Your Attendance
Seven to fourteen days prior to the school's starting date, the group must “Declare Attendance”. This can be done over the phone or by e-mail. This declares your anticipated number of attendance. The group is then responsible for full payment for this number or the actual attendance whichever is higher.
Make Any Special Requests
Please give us seven to fourteen days notice if you have any special request for:
- Food Service (vegetarian or other dietary needs)
- Housing or Meeting Space
- Linen and Towel Service
- Disability Needs
Read the House In The Wood Policies
Before arrival, be sure to inform all teachers/chaperones of House In The Wood policies regarding the use of alcohol, quiet hours, and others listed on the "House In the Wood Policies" form in your contract packet, along with the directions to House In The Wood. It is a good idea to furnish the House In the Wood policies to each chaperone.
Review Check-In Times and Procedures
Please ask individuals to not arrive before your school's scheduled check in time for housing and meeting space, as contracted. When your students arrive before their accommodations are available, it is inconvenient for them to have to wait and starts your education session on a less than desirable tone.
Your Outdoor Education experience begins NOW!
Interested in Outdoor Education at House In The Wood? Great! Let us know, and we'll help you plan the best experience possible!