Frequently Asked Questions
What's happening with DWS in regards to COVID-19?
See our current COVID-19 Plan 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- Mondays, 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 Sprouts classes for ages 2-6 is a parent/child class. Babies are always welcome for no fee. For older student courses- Redbuds, Willows, Maples, and Cedars, we are currently limiting parent participation during classes due to COVID. Reach out if your child has a unique need and you'd like to participate in class each week. We do offer lots of different ways to get involved- joining field trip groups, helping out during classroom clean up days, or participating in adult education offerings.
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 also teach and encourage "wild wees," appropriately using the restroom in the forest. This is a valuable skill for both boys and girls, so we teach, but never force, a student to "go" outside. We have a scheduled restroom break during lunch for younger students. Older students are able to go in groups to the restroom if necessary.
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, Saugatuck, 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 nut-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.