for parents, students, teachers
Dear Parents, Students, Teachers,
This handbook is designed to paint a clear picture of what you or your child/student will experience with Kroka Expeditions. If you have questions about any of the policies described in this handbook please contact our office. Our programs are intentionally designed to be unique, with much thought, understanding, and wisdom. It is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that our students, families, and participating schools feel that what we offer is what they want in an outdoor education experience. Through this process, we are able to provide exceptional programs for our students, and help with the development of capable, responsible, and respectful citizens of the future.
Lynne Boudreau and Misha Golfman, co-founders
All outdoor activities carry with them some element of inherent risk. In addition to the general risks associated with adventure sports and wilderness pursuits, there are other risks that come with our daily rhythms. For example, on a white water paddling trip there is water safety to be aware of, as well as the possibility of cutting one's self while preparing dinner. We have an excellent safety record, which we achieve through year-round practice in simple living, wilderness medical training, providing special safety equipment, and trust in our intuitive sense. This, however, does not excuse individuals from being responsible for their own safety. Any outdoor activity requires common sense and thought before action. This personal responsibility is expected of all participants with respect to age. We realize some students have more difficulty than others in the area of self-monitoring personal safety. If you feel your child may need extra attention in this area, please let us know. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us and we will share with you our comprehensive risk-management plan and protocols. Read more about safety at Kroka here, or read more about our tick protocols here.
Some of our programs, such as advanced remote expeditions, Class IV white water paddling, advanced rock climbing and caving, go far beyond what children are allowed to do in a typical camp. In such programs, there may be an increased level of risk due to unpredictable environments. Participation in these advanced programs is a privilege that students earn through hard training, experience, and the development of exceptional personal qualities. In addition to this privilege, there must be trust between families and Kroka’s teachers, with mutual respect and the awareness that while all safety precautions are taken, there is an inherent risk involved that must be understood and accepted.
We provide all specialty gear, such as life jackets, helmets, paddles, harnesses, etc. Our equipment is very dear to us and we like it to last for many years in order to bring pleasure to many people. Students will be instructed on proper care and maintenance of all items and will be held responsible for the gear they are using. With permission of the program instructor, students are welcome to bring their own boat, climbing harness, or other special gear.
Programs are developmentally appropriate and are adapted to the individual students’ ability level. Advanced programs for older students are designed to be physically and mentally demanding, which require a willingness to push beyond one’s limits. We want our students to become stronger and more capable individuals at the end of their experience.
A primary objective of every Kroka program is to create a strong and loving community within our groups and to then extend this relationship to the greater community. In daily life students are asked to do difficult things for the well being of the group. Students will learn the joy of working for others. We will complete many service projects for farmers, elderly folks, and people who just need a hand. We strive to create an environment in which everyone’s comfort, happiness and sense of belonging are more important than individual accomplishments. Every day’s success is measured by how the group feels as a whole and how each person has contributed to the success of others. We nurture an environment where one’s accomplishments become everyone’s joy and one’s mistakes become a learning experience for all. We strive for an environment of cooperation rather than competition.
Please note that students may be offered or served a variety of wild, raw, and unprocessed foods. Examples of this include wild blueberries, fish caught in lakes and rivers, raw milk from our dairy farm, fresh pressed cider and herbs and vegetables from our garden. If you have any concerns about this, we would be happy to talk with you.
ALSO: Please see our special section on food and dietary restrictions found here.
All students must pass a swim test prior to swimming without a life jacket. The swim test is not mandatory. Students may choose not to take the swim test and instead wear their life jackets while in the water. Life jackets are worn during all boating activities. Swimming activities are always supervised by a certified lifeguard, except in rare cases on advanced programs for adolescents and adults. Swimming alone is never permitted. If your child is not a swimmer, this should be noted on the Medical Questionnaire.
All students are required to bathe while on Kroka programs. When on an expedition, students will separate by gender and staff will lead and model a thorough washing of the body and full immersion in the stream or pond. Soap is used for hand washing before all meals at the campsite.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE HUMAN BODY
Some Kroka staff and students are accustomed to swimming and bathing without any clothing, which in many wilderness expedition settings is the simplest and most appropriate way. This optional activity is treated with sensitivity, and is not a core part of our curriculum. Bathing suits are always required in public locations, and for staff and students of younger-age mixed-gender programs.
Interested and concerned parents often ask us for day-by-day itineraries for our programs. While we are always happy to give a general outline of a program's activities, curriculum, and area of travel, we cannot provide a location or time-specific itinerary. An important part of our teaching philosophy is to follow the needs of a particular group of children as they evolve - and retain the flexibility to best respond to the changing weather and environmental conditions, as well as the particular skills and abilities of our teaching team. Our office and program directors are always kept aware of changes in plans, and we look forward to sharing the details with you once we reunite at the conclusion of the program.
LATE ARRIVALS & EARLY DEPARTURES
We do not allow late arrivals or early departures due to the disruption it causes to the expedition process and the logistical complications that compromise the safety and integrity of our programs.
All programs have time set aside for students to be by themselves in nature. This time allows for one to sit quietly and reflect away from the activity of the day. Advanced summer, middle and high school, and semester programs typically have a group solo component to their experience. This is done with groups after they have spent time learning all the necessary skills of living and traveling on expedition, and have demonstrated their ability to successfully complete these tasks independantly. Depending on the group and age this can take many different forms. It may be for the duration of one full day, one day and one night, or in semester programs it may be for a few days. In the end, the decision to offer the students a solo experience is always determined during the program by the curriculum, the environment, and a thorough assessment of the students by the teaching team.
LEARNING TO USE TOOLS
During most programs we teach students, at age-appropriate times, to use sharp tools such as knives, saws and axes for wilderness craft projects, preparing meals, and cutting and splitting firewood. While we instruct students on safe and appropriate use of these tools, continuously remind them of all safety precautions, and supervise them during their use, it remains likely that some students will still cut themselves while working. This is a normal part of learning about sharp tools.
Students may not bring any medications unless indicated on their Medical Questionnaire. This includes over the counter pain medications. All medications will be carried and dispensed by Kroka’s teachers unless, prior to the program, parents have made other arrangements. Please give all medications to your child’s teacher after the parent circle and include dosage and other written instructions directly on the Medical Questionnaire.
It has been our experience that many students who are taking prescription drugs for attention deficit during the school year have done well without medication while at Kroka. If this is something you would like to consider for your child we would be happy to discuss this with you.
All lead teachers are certified Wilderness First Responders. Our most common injuries are shallow knife cuts and scraped feet, however we are always prepared to treat serious injuries. Prompt professional backcountry treatment is given to serious injuries and conventional treatment is given to serious injuries in non-remote environments. Homeopathic and herbal remedies such as Arnica and Echinacea are some of the natural products we use to help with healing.
You know your child better than anyone else. We want to make sure the children feel ready to come to camp and sleep away from their families for an extended period of time, as children all develop at different rates. It is of course absolutely normal for children to experience some sadness and missing of their families. During moments of homesickness we work to support children by singing, telling stories and jokes, and rubbing backs. If there is some cuddly friend your child would like to bring with him/her to help with these moments, they are more than welcome to do so. We always do our best to make your child feel at home, however if it just does not seem to be the right timing for your child to be here, we will ask you to come and get them. From our past experience, children are not able to invest in camp if they are asked to try it with the promise that if it doesn’t work you (the parents) will come and pick them up. We ask you to carefully consider the question of homesickness on the registration form, and would be more than happy to speak with you about any concerns.
MAIL & PHONE CALLS
While we completely understand the desire to stay connected to your child during a week away from home, we ask parents to refrain from sending letters or making phone calls to your child during the week of camp. It has been our experience that it is hard when one or two students in a group receive mail and others do not. We also do not have a regular time for students to write letters home. Their experience is so short here and we feel it is important for them to be fully engaged in Kroka life, rather than thinking about home, but if your child requests time to write a letter or a card, we would certainly accomodate and encourage this. If you feel strongly about sending your child mail, just let us know. You should also always feel welcome to call our office and see how things are going. Generally speaking, students do not call home during the program, other than in special circumstances. We appreciate your understanding.
ELECTRONIC MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY
We do our best to honor every moment of a Kroka program by allowing students to directly and fully experience the real-world adventures we are having. For this reason, our programs typically do not ever watch videos or movies, or use any electronic entertainment devices. (We may on rare occasions watch a slideshow at the conclusion of a program or listen to an audio book while on a long road trip.)
Kroka students are prohibited from bringing any personal electronic devices on an expedition, including computers, cameras, watches, cell phones, and gaming devices. In addition to this clear rule, we also ask students during a program to avoid introducing or commenting on the modern entertainment world of games and videos, as these conversational references tend to distract children away from the present moment, and make it harder to experience the sacredness of a beautiful mountaintop view or a quiet evening circle around a campfire.
We need your help and support with this important issue! If your child uses electronic media or entertainment systems for more than one hour per day, we ask that you consider reducing that time for the week prior to coming to Kroka. In addition, if your student has trouble abstaining from media or game references in their social conversations during a Kroka program, it may affect our willingness to accept him or her into future programs, and we may contact you ask that you more strictly limit exposure to media before he or she arrives.
MULTIPLE PROGRAMS AND LAYOVER LOGISTICS
For students needing to stay before, after, or in-between their program(s), arrangements can be made with the office. There is a fee depending on the needs of the student. Please contact the office, 603-835-9087, to request layover arrangements.
IF YOUR CHILD IS NOT WELL If a student comes to a Kroka program sick (fever, flu, cold, etc. ), parents or guardians will be asked to take the student home to be cared for. They will be welcome to return, if logistically feasible, once they are well. If a student has been sick prior to camp, we ask parents to check with the summer program coordinator to assure the student’s ability to attend camp. If students become sick during camp, parents will be notified, and the student will be removed from their group and cared for by a Kroka staff in our wellness room for a period of 24 hours. If the student is not better after that period of time, parents will be asked to come and pick their child up. Students will be welcome to return to their program, if logistically feasible, once they have recovered.
CONSEQUENCES FOR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
Kroka Expeditions has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol, tobacco, or any substance use or possession during our programs. Students violating this rule will immediately be dismissed from the program.
Staff may also dismiss students on the basis of unacceptable behavior, including breaking community agreements or disregarding directions from an instructor. Determination is at the discretion of the staff and is based on the well being of the group as a whole.
In the case of other unacceptable behaviors, the following steps will be taken:
1) Behavior in question will be discussed privately with the student.
2) Parents will be notified of the issue and of possible dismissal.
3) An action plan will be created between the family and Kroka.
4) Failure to comply will result in dismissal. Parents will be called and must come and pick their child up from the program, regardless of where that may be. No refunds are given in the above dismissal situations.