Earth Steward Apprenticeship: Nature connection and rites of passage for teenagers

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Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Walt Whitman

Earth Steward Apprenticeship: Nature connection and rites of passage for teenagers

The Earth Steward Apprenticeship is a year course for young people aged between 13-17 which is designed to inspire awe, wonder and respect for nature in participants through practical, sensory and playful outdoor activities. The programme enables participants to develop real connections with plants and animals, become more deeply engaged with their local community and to feel the excitement of discovery as they develop a sense of belonging through knowing their place on the Earth.

Interested in taking part?

If you’re interested in taking part in future ESA courses please contact us and we can send you application forms or answer any questions.
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Why the programme exists

A recent report produced by the National Trust clearly demonstrates how spending quality time outdoors in natural environments has a beneficial impact on children in terms of meeting some of their key developmental needs. These needs are not satisfactorily met for the majority of children currently growing up in Britain today and this is having adverse effects on their health and wellbeing including compromised physical and mental health, increased behavioural and social disorders which contribute to weakened communities and local economies.

Bow making

Bow making

The Earth Steward Apprenticeship programme was designed to address these issues. The programme opens a space in which rich experiences in nature can be processed and integrated in safe but excitings ways. The programme enables participants to…

  • Develop a variety of skills to help them thrive in the natural environment
  • Discover their role as integrated members and care givers of the natural world
  • Gain a greater depth of appreciation and understanding for the outdoors
  • Become more self-reliant and able to adapt to an ever-changing world
  • Develop strategies for taking sustainable practices into adult life

School curriculum integration

Decorating the clay oven

Decorating the clay oven

Many of the activities on the one, two or three year ESA programme have direct curriculum links to history, geography, biology, design technology, physics, chemistry, as well as supporting mathematics and literacy. Our facilitators are skilled at building self-esteem and confidence in participants – pre-requisites for their ability to access opportunities in life. Participants are afforded a precious opportunity to experiment outside of the conventional education system with arts, crafts, nature conservation and team building exercises.

A better future for our children

With raised awareness of our local environment and our relationship to ourselves, others and the natural world around us we can in small steps bring active hope and regenerative solutions to our communities.

Age and cost

Skinning a rabbit

Skinning a rabbit

  • Age group: 13-17 years
  • Cost: £999
  • Concessions: Some concessions for low income/single parent available, please write and give circumstances, your application will be considered

Please see our ESA Financial Agreement (link below) for full information.

Year Course Structure

  • Four weekend camps (Saturday 9am to Sunday 3pm)
  • One five day deepening connection camp
  • One five day survival quest
  • Celebration and awards ceremony

Essential equipment

Sleeping bag, bivvy bag, rollmat, themal clothing, survival tin, knife, water bottle, strong outdoor clothing, waterproofs, strong boots/footwear, warm hat, notebook, pen, knife, fork, spoon, cup, personal bivvy/tarp and cord.

Forms

Year One: Building Relationships

The balance game

The balance game

  • The Principles of Earth Skills

    • Shelter – Establish survival camps making various forms of shelter
    • Fire – Engage in a variety of methods of fire making and learn basic fire skills
    • Water – Water preservation, sourcing and storing
    • Food – The art of the hunter-gatherer: foraging, archery skills, food preparation, cooking on open fires
  • Core routines

    • Sit Spot
    • Fox walking
    • Bird language
    • Tree lore
    • Storytelling
    • Art of thanksgiving/gratitude
    • Journaling
  • Understanding the ecological web of life

  • Nature awareness: games, methods and techniques

  • Ancient technologies

  • Art of wild-crafting

    Cordage, baskets, bowls, flint knapping, wood crafts, etc.

  • Introduction to the Sweat Lodge

    Building the Lodge, Sweat Lodge Ceremony

  • Survival Quest

    End of year camp to test the skills that have been learnt

Year Two: The Art of Living with the Earth

Tracking

Tracking

  • The Art of Living with the Earth

    Building on the Earth Skills learned in Year One: Plant, Tree and animal identification, knowledge and uses, phenomenology.

  • The Art of the Hunter-gatherer

    Deepening the experience by building on teachings from Year One: trapping, tracking, bow work, and wild foods.

  • Introduction to Biodynamic Principles and Methods

  • Introduction to forest gardens – improving biodiversity

  • Working with the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) in a sustainable way

    • Clay/earth ovens
    • Solar stills
    • Water systems and rain catchments
    • Ecological Indicators
    • Deepening craft plant and tree knowledge
    • Hide tanning
    • Bark work
    • Wild edibles
    • Advanced flint knapping
  • Survival Quest

    End of year camp to test the skills that have been learnt.

Year Three: Deepening the Journey

Games in the woods

Games in the woods

  • Development of inner tracking and reflective questioning to complement the physical journey

  • Deepening sensory awareness

    How to become more aware of what we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and sense.

  • Earth Caretaking – Thriving rather than surviving

    Understanding the elements and the inter-connectedness of all things.

  • Personal Quest

    Exploration of the guidance given when we spend time alone in nature, joys of self-discovery, and the power of personal vision for our lives.

  • Introduction to the Art of Mentoring

    How to empower others in a nurturing way to help them realise their full potential.

  • Survival Quest

    End of year camp to test the skills that have been learnt.

Inspiration and thanks

No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.

David Attenborough

The Earth Steward Apprenticeship was born out of our experience and our relationships with the Earth. We would like to acknowledge Tom Brown Junior, Jon Young and Thomas Schor-Konn for bringing the bundle of teachings which has inspired ESA to the UK. Thanks also to Grandfather Stalking Wolf for sharing his vision and passion for the Earth with us all. Lastly thanks to all our brothers and sisters in the natural world, the relationships that support us in all ways, that underpin our daily lives, and give us the opportunity to become all we can possibly be!

Interested in taking part?

If you’re interested in taking part in future ESA courses please contact us and we will send you application forms or answer any questions.