Summer Teacher Retreat FAQ

Who should attend?

  • Is this an appropriate retreat for a teacher who has not yet been teaching outside?

    Absolutely! We assume we are all beginners, striving to develop or deepen our nature-based teaching skills. We will guide you to ideas that match your needs.

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  • Is this an appropriate retreat for an experienced outdoor teacher?

    Absolutely! The retreat is a terrific opportunity for seasoned outdoor teachers to go deeper, follow their curiosity, and use resources that we match to their needs. There will be time to pursue individual interests and for crafting a plan to launch in the new school year.

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Course Credit

  • What is involved in earning graduate credit through Keene State College?

    Participants in this retreat and the follow-up professional learning community are eligible to earn one graduate credit through Keene State College. Here’s how it works: in mid-July, we’ll send a KSC phone number and you’ll simply register over the phone. You will participate fully in our group, keep a nature journal, and document an autumn curriculum project by December 10. (The time you spend on reading, planning, prep, teaching, and documenting needs to equal 30 hours). For more details, please contact Janet Altobello by email.

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  • Where will we meet?

    When you arrive for the retreat, there will be signs posted along the Harris Center driveway guiding you to the pollinator garden parking lot. Harris Center staff will meet you there and guide you to our outdoor gathering place, a less than five-minute walk from the parking lot.

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  • What if it’s raining?

    We have an indoor meeting space at the Harris Center in case of foul weather. If it’s only raining lightly, we’ll still spend some time outside, so come prepared with a rain jacket and umbrella.

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  • What do we do about lunch?

    We will all bring our own picnic lunch and relax together outside while we eat.

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  • Are there bathrooms nearby?

    Yes! There are four bathrooms just a two-minute walk from our outdoor gathering place.

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  • How much hiking is involved? Can you accommodate people with mobility challenges?

    Our explorations will all take place within a 10-minute walk from our “base camp.” The terrain is a blend of lawn, small hills, and uneven trails, but we can easily accommodate mobility challenges. Please let us know what you need to fully enjoy the retreat, and we will do our best to make it happen.

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  • Do I need hiking boots?

    Hiking boots aren’t required, but a durable, weather-resistant shoe or boot is best — especially if there has been lots of rain.

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  • What if I need to use part of the retreat day to meet personal needs?

    We recognize the complexity of our lives and support you in stepping aside to a quiet space to take or make a phone call. If you need to miss part of a day, we’ll do our best to share what we did while you were not with us.

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Equipment List

  • What should I bring?

    Here is an equipment list for our August days together:

    • Face mask for times when we are close together indoors due to wild weather
    • Chair that is comfortable and easy to tote, as we’ll carry our gear to our gathering place each morning
    • Comfortable clothes for exploring, possibly including:
      • a long-sleeve, button-down shirt for sun and bug protection
      • long socks that you can tuck your pant legs into, for tick protection
    • Sun hat
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug head net or bug repellent
    • Rain jacket, if light rain is predicted
    • Lunch and snacks, and a way to keep them cool
    • Plenty to drink
    • Journal for nature notes and sketching
    • Clipboard
    • Slim three-ring notebook for notes and handouts
    • Pencils
    • Colored pencils (optional); we’ll have some to share with you

    Please let us know if you have any questions about the items on this list.

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  • Do I need to prepare anything in advance?

    Please obtain and familiarize yourself with these two books in advance of our retreat:

    In particular, we ask you to become familiar with the July and August chapters in Naturally Curious and to identify something that you have noticed outdoors, but never understood until you read the section of Mary’s book that describes that phenomena. We’ll share our discoveries on the first day of our retreat.

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Contact Us

For more information on the Harris Center’s professional development opportunities for teachers, please contact Janet Altobello by email.