PROGRAM DETAILS FOR ARMADILLO ADVENTURERS
Greetings and Welcome!
Thank you for registering your child for our 2022-23 Armadillo Adventurers Monthly Program at Earth Native. This page provides important information about preparing your child for this program; we know it’s long, but please read it thoroughly!
2022-23 Monday Monthly Dates:
Please mark these dates on your calendar. Dates are also available on the program webpage.
McKinney Falls State Park at 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin 78744 (Not to be confused with McKinney Roughs Nature Park!)
Drop-off and Pick-up Instructions - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.
When you arrive at the gate to the state park on the first day of class, you will be greeted by an Earth Native staff member and issued a paper pass that will allow you to enter and exit the park for class pick-up and drop-off for the school year. Please do not discard this pass as you will need it for entry and exit all school year. If different vehicles/individuals will be doing the pick-up and drop-off please let the staff member know at the gate so they can issue you a second pass at that time. Please be patient when entering the park.
Once you have your pass you can just show it to the Ranger at entry. If there is no Ranger at the gate but instead a sign on the sliding glass door asking you to park and come inside, all you need to do is STOP at the stop sign and then proceed. You do not need to park and go inside if you already have a pass. PLEASE respect the stop sign at the main gate each time you enter the gate as well as all posted park speed limits and traffic signs.
After entering the park, make your first right. You will almost immediately see parking spots on your left and bathrooms. Please park here. This is where sign-in and sign-out will be. If all spots are full, there are additional parking spots a little further down the road, as well. Do not park on the grass!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Earth Native’s contract with the State Park includes park entry for Pick-Up and Drop-Off ONLY. If your family visits the park outside of an official program day, or if a parent/sibling decide to stay in the park before or after pick-up, you will need to pay regular park entry fees and get a regular park pass for your vehicle's windshield. Adult fees are $6/per person and children under 13 years old are FREE. Your Earth Native pick-up and drop-off pass is valid ONLY for that purpose and does not allow you to park and leave your vehicle to hike or camp or any other activity. If you park and leave your vehicle without a regular park pass you will likely get ticketed by the park police and risk the possibility that your vehicle may be towed.
Please call our main number at 512-299-8870 if you have any questions about the sign-in location or have trouble finding it. You can also refer to this Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/MIDv5
Laura Searles 617-678-7789 LauraS@earthnativeschool.com
Emily Andre 509-435-1509 EmilyA@earthnativeschool.com
Emma Kennedy 916-715-9971 EmmaK@earthnativeschool.com
Regina Graells 915-727-7126 ReginaG@earthnativeschool.com
Please add this group email address to your email contacts to avoid the emails going to your spam folder in the future. This email group will be used to contact parents about the program logistics, story of the day, or schedule changes, etc. Although we try to communicate by email at least a week in advance, sometimes emails will go out with shorter notice.
What to Bring:
There are a few essentials for each student to bring each day of class in order for them and everyone else to remain happy and healthy during our adventures:
Bring to Each Class *Please label all clothing and gear
Backpack (Size appropriate to child that can fit all of their personal items including their lunch and water)
Full Water Bottle
If you ordered an Earth Native water bottle during registration it will be given to you at sign-in on the first day of class.
Lunch & healthy snacks
Appropriate clothing and shoes (more info below)
Journal/sketchbook and writing utensil
Bug Spray & Sunscreen (highly recommended in warmer months)
Water shoes – in addition to their regular footwear (highly recommended if they are not wearing shoes that can comfortably get wet)
Sharp Mora Brand Fixed Blade Knife. If you purchased a knife during registration it will be given to your child at class. If you chose to purchase a knife on your own, please be sure to send it with your child each class. NOTE: We do NOT sell knives at class and instructors cannot not take cash or check payments for knives. Please purchase a knife in advance.
Change of clothing (Your child will very likely be wet/dirty after class)
Clothing – weather appropriate
We definitely have a focus on immersing our students and ourselves in the natural world. In light of this, earth tones or camouflage are great choices. We have found that the students who don’t need to worry about “getting dirty” because of their clothes, tend to allow themselves to have deep experiences with the natural world that they otherwise might not. So we recommend that you do not send your kids to class in clothing that they or you feel uncomfortable with them getting dirty and stained.
In cold or cold-wet weather, clothes should be of wool and/or synthetic layers that will stay warm when wet. Cotton or cotton blends won’t do when the weather turns cold. A warm hat is a must, as are a raincoat and rain pants, even if they only get used here and there. Synthetic or wool long underwear are used by nearly all of our students and staff. PLEASE NO COTTON UNDERLAYERS ON COLD WINTER DAYS!
In warm dry weather, cotton is OK (in fact it’s the best!). Please send along sunscreen, sunhat, etc., as appropriate for the day and your child’s needs. Shoes that can accommodate wading are recommended. Please have your child’s sunscreen applied before they arrive. Bug spray is highly recommended during warm months.
We require that all students have closed-toe shoes (not sandals/flip-flops/tevas/etc.) for class. If weather and terrain permit, we do at times allow students (with instructor permission) to go barefoot. Boots or hiking shoes are the choice of many students. Boots should have good traction ideally. Closed-toe sandals like Keens are also a good choice as the kids can go in and out of the water without worrying about their shoes getting soaked. If you send your child in shoes that are not suited to get fully immersed in water it is recommended that they have water shoes in their backpacks that they can change into when wading in the creeks. Unfortunately, creeks are major avenues for trash to flow and collect and it is not uncommon for us to encounter hazards like broken glass or shards of rusted metal in the creek bed we frequent. Therefore, generally we require students to have some type of footwear on when walking or playing in the creeks.
~Our basic maxim is “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!”
Please encourage your child to come well prepared to be outside ALL day.~
Lost and Found:
We request that you write names on backpacks, clothing, lunch boxes, etc., as we have noticed that sometimes students don’t recognize that these personal belongings have disappeared. We cannot be ultimately responsible for re-connecting unlabeled items to their owners. If a name is visible on the item, instructors will notify the owner. If you have lost an item please notify the program instructors who will make an effort to find your item. We will keep unclaimed Lost and Found items for no more than one month at our office. If you request us to hold something, we can hold it for up to one month. Unclaimed items will go to charity or be given to other ENWS community members.
Health / Illness Guidelines:
Please follow these guidelines to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases at Earth Native School:
If a child or adult has had any of the following within 24 hours of class he/she should not come to Earth Native School:
A communicable illness (e.g. chicken pox, flu, COVID-19)
The school should be notified (512-299-8870 or firstname.lastname@example.org) when anyone in your family has a communicable illness so others can be aware and alert to symptoms.
If a student becomes ill (in accordance with the above health policy) while at Earth Native School, an Earth Native staff member will separate the student from the group and attempt to contact the student’s parent or guardian to come pick up the student. If unable to reach the family, we will subsequently contact the emergency contact person to come pick up the student.
Student Code of Conduct & Dismissal Policy:
We must clearly state that there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable at Earth Native Youth Programs. Though we don’t expect that these behaviors will occur, we feel it’s necessary to be very clear about them.
Students will not display violent, harmful, or abusive behavior at school, whether it is directed at other students, staff, the public, or themselves.
Students will listen to the requests of instructors and follow them. If students are unable to do this, it puts themselves and others at risk.
At the beginning of each year, students and staff will create Community Agreements acknowledging the above and more specific guidelines. Once the agreements are made, all will be held accountable. Staff will mentor students in upholding the agreements. If students don’t follow the agreements, staff will determine what option best fits the circumstance. The following is a list of possible options that instructors will use. The first two options will always be incorporated – ranging from a gentle reminder like a hand on a shoulder, to a heart-to-heart conversation, or, if needed for safety, instructors may need to simply say, “Stop!” Instructors commonly strive to co-create solutions with students, but in some unusual cases (when physical and/or emotional safety is at risk) a decision may not be open to negotiation (though we are willing to hear the student’s perspective afterward). Respect, understanding, and communication will be priorities in all situations.
Instructor responses to student behavior when it is not consistent with agreements (listed from gentlest response to most severe)
1. Remind the child of the agreement
2. Support the child in shifting their behavior or creating a new agreement.
3. Contact the parent after class. (Parents often can help staff and students understand each other more fully)
If needed for safety or to maintain a healthy learning environment for all, Earth Native School reserves the right to:
4. Call the parent during class to pick up their child.
5. Ask a child to “take a class off”.
6. Dismiss the student from the program. – This would occur only if the previous steps are not effective or if a very serious infraction occurs.
Though it is rare for Earth Native School to have serious behavior or discipline problem with a student, it is necessary for us to let families know about our dismissal policy in the unlikely event that we do encounter difficulties.
It is completely understandable that your child may miss some days of class. It is not necessary to inform us if your child will not be at class. If you still wish to do so, please contact your child’s Instructor directly via text/call instead of emailing anyone in the office, as it is likely that the message will not be received in time to notify your instructor.
Class Cancellation Policy:
Although we rarely need to do so, we reserve the right to cancel a program or change a program's duration or location due to unforeseen events such as severe weather. Earth Native School is not responsible for costs associated in these cases. If class is canceled due to severe weather, we will not have a "make up" day, and refunds will not be given for these cancellations. We will do everything we can to run a class, including moving the location of class if possible. Cancellation of one program does NOT have to mean cancellation of others on the same day. A different start time/location/etc. could be a huge difference in determining cancellation or not.
Inclement Weather Procedure: (in case of severe storms, ice, flooding…)
We will post the closure or delay on our program webpage online.
We will send out an email and text announcing the delay or closure as soon as the decision has been made.
Questions about potential class cancellations can be directed to 512-299-8870.
No Early Arrival/Late Pickup:
Although our staff is on-site both before and after sign-in and sign-out, they are NOT available to supervise children outside of the arrival and pick-up times indicated above. This time is used for program planning and debrief, and it is critical to us being able to provide each individual student and the group with the best class possible. We know that this is challenging for some parents, and appreciate your understanding.
Late Pick-up Fees:
Additional fees will be charged to parents who are more than 15 minutes late to pickup at a rate of $1 per minute. Parents who are less than 20 minutes late will be given one verbal warning before being charged.
Students will be utilizing knives in this program. Folding knives are not permitted. Due to the great variance in usefulness and quality of knives, we require parents to purchase a specific brand/model of knife for use in our programs. We use the Stainless-Steel Mora Basic Knife at class. If you would like to purchase one of these knives on your own they are readily available online. If you would like to purchase a knife from us and did not do so during registration, you can email us to have that added. The cost is $25 per knife.
We cover knife safety in the beginning of the year, and again throughout the year. We take knife safety very seriously and make it clear that instructors have the absolute say in when it is or is not appropriate for someone to possess a knife, have it out, and be able to utilize. Note: If you do purchase a knife in advance please use caution. These knives are extremely sharp, and we’ve heard stories of cuts at home when unpacking or admiring new knives.
We require that each student participate in a knife safety training unless they have previously received a level 2 or above knife safety certification through Earth Native. After the training, each student will be required to pass a knife safety certification before they can use their knife. Even after students pass the verbal and skill test and are “Knife Safety Certified,” instructors will hold the students to strict guidelines regarding knife use that must be followed at all times to include:
Students must ask an instructor before using their knife. (If it is an appropriate time, the instructor will direct them to a safe location where they can carve.)
Students must maintain a minimum distance apart from other students and instructors while carving. (The distance must be equal to or greater than the distance of their arm length plus the length of the object they are carving.)
A knife is not a toy and can never be treated as such. (Using a knife in an inappropriate manner can result in the knife being taken away and a loss of knife certification.
If this happens, the student will have to re-earn their knife certification by acknowledging that what they did that was inappropriate and re-passing the knife certification at a later time/date deemed appropriate by the instructor.)
Never carve toward or on top of any part of your body.
Never leave a knife unattended.
Always put your knife back in the sheath and back in your backpack when you are done carving.
Knives must stay in backpacks when not in use.
Hopefully most of your questions about the Armadillo Adventurers Monthly Program have been answered here, though we invite you to please call us with anything further you need to get the year started on the right foot. We are proud of the commitment of so many families to our programs and thank all of you for your continued support.
If you have any questions, please contact us at (512) 299-8870 or via e-mail at Info@EarthNativeSchool.com
We look forward to seeing you this fall!