Frequently Asked Questions

What's happening with DWS in regards to COVID-19?

See our current COVID-19 Plan in the Parent Handbook here.

The class I want to register for is full. What should I do?

Please register for the wait list. We use the wait list to know when/if we should open another section for a class. You do not need to pay the deposit to register for the wait list. If a spot in the class opens up, you will automatically be sent an email that will allow you to join the class. An email will be sent to the next person on the wait list two days later, if you haven't claimed your spot in the class.

Which days are classes?

Classes meet once per week. When you sign up, you choose the day of the week that works best for your family- Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Where do classes meet?

Courses will be held at Little Pine Island Camp in Comstock Park.

Are classes per year or seasonal?

All classes are one year long. When you enroll in a class, you are enrolling in a one-year program (Fall, Winter and Spring).

Is there work outside of class?

There is no mandatory work outside of class.  Each week, we will email out our newsletter with a few optional extension activities that you may choose to do at home. This is meant to support you in your schooling at home, not to burden you in any way.

Can parents come too?

The Juniors classes for ages 2-6 is a parent/child class. Babies are always welcome for no fee. For older student courses, Nature Explorers and Nature Connection, you are always welcome to join us. Sometimes we will ask for parent volunteers or invite families when a special event is scheduled (such as tapping maple trees to collect sap).

Will restrooms be available?

At Little Pine Island Camp, we rent facilities that include restrooms. Before dropping off your student at their outdoor classroom, we ask that they "try to go" so they don't miss out on important class time. We have a scheduled restroom break during lunch.

How can I receive help with tuition?

We do not want tuition to be a burden on your family. We believe every child should be able to participate in an outdoor education program. Families have the opportunity to participate in Home School Partnerships- Niles, Jenison and Hamilton, so tuition costs can be covered. There are also opportunities for parents to volunteer for a reduced tuition rate. Please contact us for more information. 

Are snacks/lunch provided?

Students are asked to bring their own lunch, snacks and water bottles. On occasion, we might eat or drink tea from plants foraged from our outdoor classroom, under the direct supervision of our knowledgeable instructors. Please communicate with us if this is not something you feel comfortable with. Dependent on the students, we sometimes ask parents to send peanut-free lunches. 

What gear is provided?

Students are asked to come dressed in layers, ready for a day outside. We do not provide gear, but do help guide parents in what to buy and how to dress for different weather. Here’s a link to the page with more information about gear.

Will my child be safe in an outdoor classroom?

Student safety is our number one concern. Even though we allow students much freedom to explore, children are never out of sight. In addition, we teach basic safety skills to students so they know how far they may go from an adult, how high they may climb, and what to do if they need help. Our staff members are certified in first-aid and CPR skills, and always have access to a phone in case of an emergency. Click here to read more about risks associated with an outdoor classroom.

My child has allergies /health /medical condition or disability. Can s/he participate?

Every child benefits from being out in nature. Often, being outdoors is a calming environment and students with special needs thrive in the outdoor classroom. We want to learn more about your child and find a way to make it work! Please contact us and we will make a plan together.