SOTF’s History and Educational Philosophy

Our History

School Of The Forest started to come into existence in 2016 while director Christopher Russell was a student at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft school. During that time Tim Smith, the founder of JMB, offered Christopher the chance to start running youth programming at the field school. As the years went on, SOTF evolved from a teen-focused program into something that aimed to offer the skills and experiences students gained from long-term, residential wilderness training to a wider range of people. Since then we’ve grown into an organization that has run courses for the wilderness medicine team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, provides students with a year-long part-time immersion program, runs experiential trips to spend time with our Cree First Nations friends in northern Quebec, and more.

Taking a break from tanning a moose hide

At School Of The Forest, we aim to offer an environment in which children and young adults can learn outdoor skills that they can use for a lifetime. Not only the basics of outdoor living but practical skills that can be applied to everyday life. Outdoor education is a vital part of life that in recent years has been moved to the realm of “recreation”. In our programs, we hope to offer kids a chance to learn hands-on activities and skills that are not only enjoyable but also create a greater understanding of themselves and the world they live in. Our educational approach revolves around the phrase “Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus”, loosely translated as “we do not learn for school, but for life”. So much of modern education exists inside a vacuum and has no application to the day-to-day lives of modern youth. We want to provide programs in which students gain an in-depth understanding of themselves mentally, physically, and how they fit into the natural world. We believe that once these tenets are grasped through daily outdoor living, the world and it’s day-to-day problems become much easier to cope with. 

Our Mission Statement

“A big thanks to Chris for giving us a wonderful experience at the School in the Forest and to Tim for creating Jack Mountain Bushcraft School. Chris was a phenomenal teacher, full of wisdom, humor, and an ability to effectively connect with people of all ages, personalities, and skill levels. The schedule was relaxed and flexible so even with two small kids we were able to participate in all the lessons.  We learned skills such as ax work, basic canoe paddling, and rescue techniques, campfire cooking, dry and wet fire starting, how to make a shelter, and much more. These skills have given us the confidence to enjoy adventures in the great outdoors with our kids and feel comfortable in an off-grid situation.”

We are already looking forward to our next trip to School Of The Forest.

~Heather, Julian, Julian, George and Scout