Professional certification to work in the Forest! 

Forest and Nature School Practitioner's Course 

Camp Fire

Develop confidence and skills  to take children outside and into nature.  

Facilitated by Child & Nature Alliance

in partnership with Sapling Forest School

Professional Development Opportunity
Duration: 5 days in-person and twelve months of online study 
Hours: Over 40 hours of PD towards professional designations  
Location: Corner Brook, NL 
Investment: $1650.00 tax included. Travel and accommodations extra. This is the most accessible price for this course in Canada. 


The Forest and Nature School Practitioners Course is a year-long certificate course that consists of both in-person outdoor, experiential learning, as well as online self-directed learning. We have been offering this course since 2012, adapting and improving it each year based on participant feedback and the ever-evolving Forest/Nature School landscape in Canada. While some things have changed, what remains consistent is our intention to offer an immersive and transformative professional learning experience with like-minded educators and the Land.

In keeping with the Forest School approach, this course is learner-led, emergent, inquiry-driven, and playful! We explore those pedagogies, tell stories, and dive deeply into supporting risky play. We practice “hard” skills such as fire building, knots, and tool work, and deepen our relationships with the Land, each other, and ourselves. And we share practical tips, recommendations, policies, and protocols for the day to day operations of a Forest/Nature School program. Please note: We do not extensively discuss “how to start a forest school” in terms of legislation or licensing requirements, which vary from province to province, and territory to territory. We recommend that you seek your own legal counsel and guidance from an insurance professional, and many of the course assignments are designed to help you put together the documentation legal and insurance professionals (and parents!) will ask of you.

Quick List of Themes we Explore:

  • How is our relationship with the Land? How can we deepen it and foster meaningful connection with it among children?

  • What is emergent, child-led, play-based, and inquiry-driven learning? What does it look like, sound like, feel like, and what is our role as educators?

  • What is risky play, why is it important, and how can we support it?

  • How might we use fire, tools, and ropes, knots, and tarps to enrich our programs?

  • What does a “typical day” at Forest/NatureSchool look like? How can this work in a “regular” school?

How long does it take to complete the course?

The course takes most people 1 year to finish, and we encourage participants to prepare to invest 2-5 hours/week reading, reflecting, connecting with the Land, and completing coursework. Please remember, this is a learner-led, highly self-directed program, and your mentors will not be checking up on you and enforcing readings or assignment completion.

Who is this course for?

This course is primarily intended for early childhood and elementary school educators interested in starting their own Forest/Nature School program, working in an established Forest/Nature School program, or in integrating elements of the Forest/Nature School approach into their traditional setting.

We have had homeschooling parents, camp and recreation workers, social workers, occupational therapists, and other healthcare professionals successfully complete the course. If you don’t have a background in education you may find the learning curve steep in terms of discussing and deeply understanding the pedagogy of Forest/Nature School, but that doesn’t mean the course isn’t for you! Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.