Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is your teacher-to-student ratio?
A: With a 1:6 ratio for ages 4-6 and 1:8 ratio for ages 7-14, we can ensure to provide your child with both the best quality nature education and also safety in the outdoors.
Q: Are your instructors trained in First Aid/CPR?
A: All instructors on site will be trained in First Aid/CPR, and will be equipped with a cell phone and a basic first aid kit.
Q: Do you require that your instructors get a background check?
A: All instructors are required to pass a Live Scan Background check through the Department of Justice.
Q: Can I attend the program with my child?
A: We ask that just the children that sign up for the course participate in the program. This is an opportunity for the children to cultivate their own relationship with nature, and we design each class for that specific age group. For that reason we ask that the parents and any siblings that are not signed up do not to attend the actual course. However, we also know that it is common for children (and the parents!) to be a little timid the first day of class, especially if you aren't already acquainted with us. For that reason, you are welcome to stay for the first day, as long as you are also encouraging your child to participate in the program.
Q: If I am not allowed to attend the program with my child, then how do I know or keep track of what they are learning?
A: This is not just a fun, nature connection class, we are also intending to educate your child on their natural environment and with survival skills. In order to try and keep you informed on what they are learning in class (we all know that the most common answer to the question, “So what did you do in class today?” is “oh, just... stuff”) we have two methods. First is their nature journal. This is for them to keep, to collect different handouts that we give them on lessons, and to record and draw their own observations in nature. This is also something that we encourage them to add to when they are at home, and something that we encourage them to share with you. The second way we keep you informed is by sending an email each week, called a Recap. Included in this recap are also suggestions of things you can do at home to reinforce the lessons we had in class. I aim to get this out within the first two days after class. Also, I am working on a resource page to add to our website, which will include resources for parents if they are interested in continuing their nature education at home.
Q: I notice that there is some overlap in your age groups for your different programs. Why is this, and how do I make a decision on which one to enroll in if my child's age falls in that range?
A: For our Forest Foxes program there is an age range for 4-7 year olds, and for Nature Ninjas the age range is for 7-12 years old. We have this flexibility for that age group because we have noted from experience that some 7 year olds prefer one program, while others prefer the latter. To help guide you in making the right decision, ask these questions: Is this the first time your child will be enrolled in a program without you by their side? Will this be the first time that your child will experience spending a lot of time outdoors, no matter the weather? Does your child prefer to have more free, unstructured, self-guided play time, instead of seeking to have more guided instruction? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we would suggest to enroll your 7 year old in Forest Foxes rather than Nature Ninjas.
For our Woodland Scouts program, the ages are 10-14, which overlaps the age range for our Nature Ninjas program which is 7-12. If your child has been enrolled in our programs for a while and is over the age of 10, you may consider enrolling them in our Woodland Scouts program, to have new hands-on projects, more challenging activities, and to be with an age group that is made up of older peers. If they are new to our program but have had other types of wilderness skills programs in their lives, or personal mentors, then you may also want to consider enrolling them in the Woodland Scouts. If they are totally new to our program and new to outdoor skills in general, then we suggest to enroll them in Nature Ninjas.
Q: Where do you meet for your programs?
A: We meet within the public park system in Chico, CA. These areas are limited to 5 main areas, but will mostly rotate between 2-3 spots. When you complete your registration, we will email you detailed descriptions of where to meet. We do not have a set location schedule in the beginning of the semester, each week our location may change (always staying within 1 of those 5 areas) depending on the lesson/activities we have planned, as well as the weather forecast. We send out emails in the beginning of each week to announce where we are meeting that week, so it is important that you check your email for that information.
Q: What should my child bring to class?
A: Please make sure your child comes prepared to each class, equipped with:
Backpack that has room to carry their food and water, and big enough for them to fit in a notebook-sized journal. They will all be responsible to carry their own items, so it is important that it is also comfortable for them to carry.
Full container of water, not a glass container. This should be at least a 24 ounce container. Your child may not drink a lot of water at home, but we are very active during our classes and it is important that your child stays hydrated and healthy.
A packed lunch and snack that will be suitable for their needs. (We all know that a hungry kid is a cranky kid!) Also, please do not pack high processed sugar snacks.
Clothing that is appropriate for the weather (this will be further explained below).
Clothing that they and you are okay getting dirty. We cannot guarantee that your child will come home clean! Please don't allow your child to wear special or expensive clothing to our class unless all of you are ok with getting dirty.
Comfortable shoes for walking. This does not mean that you have to buy expensive hiking style boots. We actually don't recommend hiking boots for this class, they tend to be very restrictive to your child's natural movements. A comfortable sneaker, or sandals for summer, or boots for winter, is just fine. With parental permission, children are allowed to be barefoot, and many will choose to be barefoot.
Eventually during each session we will pass out new Nature Journals to new students, and new ones to returning students if necessary. We aim to do this earlier in the session, with the intention of creating a space for your child to record their lessons with us. Sometimes we will have assignments during class to complete, and sometimes we will give them a handout to add to their journals. Often, their nature journals become their local mini field guides! Once they have these, please make sure that they pack them in their bags and bring to class.
Q: How do you handle tardiness/absences?
A: Please be on time when dropping off/picking up your child(ren). If you are going to be late, please give us a call/text. We usually do not remain at the drop off site for longer than 15-20 minutes, so if you arrive late we will not be in the immediate area. Consistent late arrivals will not be tolerated, because the rest of the class will potentially be held up waiting for your arrival, and our plan for the day may be compromised.
Please be on time when picking up your child. If you are going to be more than a few minutes late, please give us a call/text. If you are consistently more than 10 minutes late in picking up your child, we may have to talk about removing your child from the program. Please be on time because often our instructors have commitments after class.
If you are going to miss a class, it is helpful if you call/text us by the morning of the class at the latest, or send us an email if you know by the night before. We do not provide any refunds for days missed, nor can we guarantee that you can make up a day if missed. If your child misses a day and you wish to make it up, please contact us. It will depend if we have enough staff to allow for another student to join us on the day that you can make it up on. If we can allow for a make up day, you are limited to 2 make up days per semester.
Q: How do you deal with class cancellations, especially due to weather?
A: The only time we may ever cancel a class is because the weather is so bad that it is dangerous to drive, or because there are poor air quality conditions due to wildfire activity, or if there is any other imminent widespread danger. If this does happen, we will try our best to make up the class, but we can not guarantee it.
Earthbound Skills is a nature connection education program. We encourage developing and strengthening our relationships with nature despite what the weather may be doing. So we strive to be outside, even on rainy days. We also teach survival skills, which includes knowing how to stay warm and dry in all types of weather. However, we also want everyone to be safe, happy, and healthy. On a mild to heavy rainy day, we will come prepared. Any of the children that have taken our classes before will tell you that they love rainy days with us. We come with tarps (which provides them with a great opportunity to learn how to set one up), hot tea, wool blankets, stories and activities. If the weather is forecast to be intense (heavy, prolonged rain, strong winds, lightening storms, etc) we will arrange to meet at Cedar Grove, and we have permission to use the Nature Center for shelter if it is available. We typically do not cancel class for average inclement weather, please refer to the above “Class Cancellations” for further information.
Q: How should my child dress for cold/wet weather?
A: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” In our mediterranean climate, it mostly only rains when it is cool outside. This means that if your child is not properly dressed to withstand rain, they will most likely be cold. In survival, shelter is number one, the very first thing, before water and food and even making a fire (unless its part of your shelter). Your clothing IS the first layer of shelter.
“Cotton kills” is a common saying amongst survivalists. That may sound dramatic, but there is truth to it. We strongly advice against wearing cotton on rainy days, especially on both the most inner and most outer layers. Cotton absorbs moisture like a sponge and literally wicks away the warmth from your body when wet. If it is on the outside layer, it will absorb moisture instantly – even from the moist air. If it is a base layer that is cotton, it can cause your child to sweat, the cotton will absorb that moisture, and then continue to wick away any warmth from their bodies, causing their body temperatures to drop. Either wool (or other similar animal fibers) or synthetic fibers (such as polyester) are much better for inner and outer layers.
A standard outfit for a cool and rainy day would preferably be:
rain boots (sneakers absorb water, wet feet = cold and cranky kid)
a thick, warm pair of socks with an extra pair packed in bag.
rain jacket with hood, or a non-cotton, water repellent hat
rain pants (please don't skip this part)
warm hat (we lose heat more quick if our heads are not warm)
LAYERS. It is not just the layers themselves that help keep kids warm, but the space in
between the layers that help trap the bodies natural radiating heat. Again, non-cotton layers are best. On a cold, wet day (typically anything under 58 degrees, but each child is different, and be familiar with what your child's standard is) we suggest 3-4 layers on top (a base layer, a shirt, a sweater/sweatshirt, and a rain jacket) and 3 on the bottom (a base layer, pants, and rain pants) Layers are great, because if we are moving around and the kids get warm, they can take a layer off and put it away. If we stop moving and go back under our shelter for a story and tea or an activity, they can put the layer back on.
EXTRA CLOTHING. This is especially true for younger kids. Unless you are buying Oaki rain gear (see below) or other more expensive brands, often much of what is on the market for children is designed to get a child to and from their car without getting wet. It is best to pack at least a warm sweater/sweatshirt, cozy pants, and a extra pair of socks, sealed in a ziplock bag, so that if they do get wet, they can easily change into something warmer.
We know that kids grow fast, are expensive to clothe, and resist putting on what they are told to. So here are some tips:
Don't wait until the last minute, sometimes our local stores will sell out of rain gear when the first storm of the season is on the way.
Check out thrift stores. Not only for rain jackets, rain pants, and rain boots, but for wool sweaters.
Local retailers to check out would be Dick's Sporting Goods, Big 5's, and Sportsman Warehouse. Sports LTD typically carries youth clothing. Other big box stores, such as Walmart and Target, will also carry rain gear.
Heel and Sole (Mangrove Shopping Area in Chico) has a huge selection of children's rain boots when it gets close to the winter season.
If you are shopping ahead of the season, there are a ton of options online. One of the best children rain outfitters is Oaki. They can be expensive, but they are very high quality and your child can be out in the rain for hours and not get wet.
If your child is resisting putting on proper rain gear, tell them that we (the teachers) told you that they have to do it, otherwise we will send them home. We really don't want to turn away anyone from class, but we also don't want kids to get sick from exposure, or have to change our activity because one child is not prepared.
Q: How should my child dress for warm weather?
A: In our area, we tend to have many more warm days versus wet and cool days. It is important to know how to dress your child to be comfortable and healthy to be outside for long periods of time during warm to hot weather.
If your child is sensitive to the sun, please apply any sunblock before dropping them off with us. If your child is especially sensitive and you would like them to reapply during the day and they will need assistance, please initial here indicating that we have permission to help them reapply:
A sun hat is also useful for keeping children less likely to get heat exhausted, especially if they can soak it in the water.
Consider packing two bottles of water, if you can make it cold water that is a great option that your kid will love you for. Consider adding electrolytes on very hot days.
Pack juicy fruit, such as oranges or melons, in their lunch.
On hot days, we often get in the creek water, so dressing your kids in swim friendly clothing is
important during the hot seasons. We are always water safe, and with our smallest children we only go in areas that are wade friendly. We never go in dangerously fast moving water. With our older kids, they have to prove to us that they can swim, and even then we stay in areas that have varying amounts of depth and never let them out of our site.
Sandals that are outdoor-friendly (not pretty plastic sandals) that have good grippy soles and are comfortable are best. Even better if they double as water shoes. If you prefer for your child to have a separate pair of water shoes, please be sure that they are able to put them on/take them off themselves.
Many children will prefer to be barefoot outside. In our registration form we address our barefoot policy, unless you have specified that your child needs to keep their shoes on, we allow children to be barefoot.
Q: What other environmental hazards should I be aware of and prepared for?
A: There are other hazards that can depend on where and when we meet. Whenever we meet, we will always go over the potential hazards. This is not to strike fear in any student or parent, but just to bring awareness around the topic. With awareness, there is lesser chance of injury. We are constantly reminding children of what they need to be aware of that surrounds us, whether it could be rattlesnakes, bee or wasp hives, red ants, broken glass or other hazardous litter, etc. From our experience, this has only heightened the children's awareness and we have avoided (after literally hundreds of students) any major injuries.
A few specific hazards to be aware of are ticks and poison oak.
Ticks - We will hopefully not get any, but of course we cannot guarantee this. You may want to consider using a tick repellent for your child. Doing a tick check after our classes is strongly recommended. You can also designate certain clothing for our classes, and have children change their clothes and shower when coming home to avoid contact with ticks.
Poison Oak - This plant is very prevalent in the park. We are constantly reminding the children to be aware of it (awareness is the #1 lesson taught in all that we do).