Family Exploration Groups

Weekly meet-ups at parks across West Michigan 

Homeschooling- it takes a village! Nature Lovers- find your community as you navigate this school year. Whether you are a veteran homeschooler, or you are considering it for the first time, you are welcome here. Let’s connect, support, and encourage one another while exploring in nature. Take your child’s education into the woods, fields, and creek.

Our Vision for the 2020-2021 School Year: To see families connect deeply with nature and one another through Exploration Groups in different locations around West Michigan. We envision small groups, committed to weekly time together outdoors--children and parents exploring, playing and learning from one another. Our hope is that children will build relationships through outdoor play and exploration while parents have an opportunity to connect, encourage and support one another in authentic community. 


If you are ready to commit to an authentic community, fill out this survey. Reach out to Kelly (Family Exploration Groups Coordinator) with questions or ideas at

Tips for Family Exploration Groups

What to Bring to Wilderness School guide may help you dress for success outdoors year-round.

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Backyard Sugaring

a Maple Syrup Processing field trip to Sparta

Friday, March 6, 10:00 am-11:30am

at the home of a community expert in Sparta.

For students enrolled in Discovery Wilderness Classes


Lets see the entire process, start to finish! Community expert, Jim LaRock will be taking us on a tour of his sugaring set up. There is a small grove of sugar maples in his backyard, and he has been making syrup for years. He has hand-crafted a large boiler with a great set up for boiling down sap. Sign up to join the tour! If there is time left, we will go on an exploration in the back woods behind Jim's house through the woods to a beautiful creek.  

Our community expert's address with directions to his home will be emailed to you after you sign up to join us. 



Pancake Breakfast 

with residents at Brookcrest

Wednesday, March 26, 9:30am

Drop-off at Brookcrest, pick up at Wedgewood Park

For students enrolled in Discovery Wilderness Classes


Join us as we share the process of sugaring with residents at Brookcrest. We will be giving a presentation about how we tapped, collected and cooked down sap into syrup. Then we will enjoy the sweetness of our labor with a small pancake snack-sharing it with members of the Grandville Community. Brookcrest Nursing home backs up to Mill Race Park, where we collect the sap for our syrup. 

This will take place during the first 45 minutes of our Wednesday Morning Nature Class. Please sign up here if you would like to participate. Parents are also welcome to come! We will walk back to Wedgewood Park for the next hour and a half of nature class. 

Drop off will be at Brookcrest Nursing Home. If the parent comes and participates, you are welcome to drive your child back to the park (if they are enrolled in Wednesday nature class). Other students will walk with a Lead Guide back to Wedgewood Park. 

All students in the Nature Study (ages 9-14) with Ms. Chelsea will be participating in this event, as well as any other student that wants to join us. Nature Explorers and Junior Nature classes at Wedgewood may be combined into one class that day, depending on how many younger students want to participate at Brookcrest.


Winter Birding

Family Nature Walk

Monday, February 12, 10:00am

Wedgewood Park, Grandville

We will be reading a story about what different birds do in winter, going on a walk to look for birds and then (if it is warm enough to take off mittens) making pine cone bird feeders using peanut-FREE sunflower seed butter and bird seed. Bring your own bird-watching binoculars, if you have them.

Come with your child for a winter nature walk. These winter walks are free and a way to connect with other families over winter. Feel free to invite a friend. If it’s a nice day, bring a lunch for a winter picnic. We will plan to gather about 10:00 to read a story and then start on a themed walk following the Buck Creek Trail. Kids range in age from newborn to 15 years, so we will naturally just split up according to who comes.

Just a reminder: these are not drop-off events, since full staffing will not necessarily be there. Just a great way to connect with other families in nature.

Here is a link to the facebook event. 


(FULL) Sugar Maple Tapping 

Family Winter Nature Walk

Monday, February 24, 10:00am

Mill Race Park, Grandville

If the weather is right, we will tap maple trees to collect sap. We’ll start with a quick story about the importance of maple syrup and maple sugar to our ancestors, and then find the sugar maples that students identified last fall. Spring semester at DWS we will be cooking down sap into syrup, and have planned a pancake breakfast with Seniors at Brookcrest Nursing Home.

Tapping Maple Trees is all about watching the weather, so we can’t predict for sure when we will be tapping. If we don’t tap today, we will plan to gather for a nature exploration walk and later tap trees during class.

Mill Race Park is street-parking only. Turn East from Wilson onto Macrase St. Then veer to the right, and the street turns into Carlton Park Drive. Look for our group in front of the big brown barn.

Just a reminder: these are not drop-off events, since full staffing will not necessarily be there. Just a great way to connect with other families in nature.

Here is a link to the facebook event. 

©2019 by Discovery Wilderness School.

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