In 1996 Misha Golfman and Lynne Boudreau founded Kroka Expeditions as a year-round adventure school. They were both public school teachers as well as instructors for Outward Bound Schools and guides for Mahoosuc Guide Service in Maine. Misha was raised and educated in the "Russian Outdoor Tradition," traveling and teaching in the wilderness.
Kroka started as a summer camp program at Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro, VT. The conception and curriculum of Kroka were the theme of Misha's thesis at Antioch New England Graduate School. After that first summer, they continued to work with students in afterschool and school vacation programs.
Misha and Lynne saw a strong need to change traditional outdoor education: to make it less contrived and more real and to bring a stronger and lasting connection to nature and community. They also saw the need to make traditional environmental education more engaging, inviting, dynamic and meaningful for children.
Kroka's founding principle is to bring children into nature using the dynamic modern pursuits of White Water Paddling, Climbing, Caving and Mountaineering. Our curriculum of natural sciences, traditional and indigenous craft skills, arts and music, and the philosophy of simplicity are brought into the experience in measured doses as participants become ready for them. The teaching focus is always on positive change in the world, special human contributions to the society and the wonders of nature.
Through our experiences working with Waldorf schools, Kroka made the decision to become a Waldorf-inspired school. Waldorf pedagogy is now an integral part of our staff training along with the study of singing, eurhythmy and other Waldorf-inspired art and movement forms. Experienced Waldorf educators join Kroka programs each summer to share their teaching experience and learn how we work with children in the outdoors.
The summer camp program grew from its humble beginning of 35 students to an enrollment of 240. Programs expanded to inlcude sustainable small building design and construction, forestry, farming, fiber arts, subsistence hunting and the three program areas of paddling, climbing/caving, and wilderness living.
In 1998, Kroka moved to Trollhaugen Farm in Newfane, VT where we leased the land from a family closely tied to Kroka; one parent taught at Kroka, while the other managed our website. The land had a beautiful creek running through it and a hillside of huge pines.
The yurt pictured here was Kroka's office and only standing structure at Trollhaugen Farm.
The gardens and animals started at the Putney home of Lynne and Misha and the Kroka office. We added a few family hens that would move with us each year over Putney Mountain to the Base Camp in Newfane for the summer. We started gardens at Trollhaugen with students involved in the development and care of growing food. We added more chickens; Brita, the work pony; and Miss Muffet and Bo Peep, the sheep to keep Brita company, eat the poison ivy and provide wool for chinking dwellings. Once Kroka moved to Marlow, we purchased a heifer and began producing milk in 2011, adding a new calf each year. The care of the animals and the growing of food are seen as an integral part in the education of youth. All students participate in the farming program. The farm also provides healthy, nutritious, local products for the community.
In 1999, after being approached by several schools with varying educational philosophies, we began our School Programs. Today we work with students in grades K-12 from schools from around the country, supplementing and supporting the class curriculum in many areas through expeditions and wilderness skills programs. Serving local youth has always been an integral part of Kroka’s mission. From the beginning we offered afterschool programs to local youth, and we continue to offer school vacation programs and work with our local elementary schools.
In 2004, we launched the Vermont Semester. This began from a desire to offer long-term involvement with the same group of young people, just as Misha had experienced with his outdoor club students in Russia. Our first high school semester served seven students. It was born from our yearlong Club Horizon program, a group of youth that gathered each week/month and planned, prepared and trained for a month-long summer expedition. We now offer two high school semester programs every year. The second semester program, Ecuador Semester, began in 2007 and came from the shared dream of our Ecuadorian friends who joined us in 2003. That partnership has grown into an exchange of teachers, students, and apprentices between their Ecuadorian organization, Nahual, and Kroka.
We take pride in the fact that many of our staff were once our students. Our apprenticeship program began when our semester students wanted to continue to be part of Kroka. We now offer an apprenticeship program that has a dozen seasonal apprentices.
Our move to Marlow, NH took place in 2007. We were growing beyond the land at Trollhaugen Farm and began developing a vision for a permanent Kroka campus. In 2006 we met with all of our staff, and under the guidance of Grandfather Ray Reitze envisioned what was important to have on the new Kroka campus in order to best serve youth and our mission. The list was long! Lynne presented the list at the top of the mountain to the powers that be and set it aside for the upcoming busy summer. In the fall, the first place we looked at was a farmhouse in Marlow. We found many of our wishes from the list to be there. We signed the mortgage in the spring of 2007 and in four weeks moved our whole organization: structures, animals, gear, and people. This took place with incredible help and support of our Kroka families, neighbors and supporters. It was an amazing feat!
We now have a strong team of committed staff and board of trustees, we serve 1000 students each year and our operating budget is $1,000,000. We are so grateful!