The Children of the Earth are focused on helping individuals learn skills to do many things including appreciating all things about nature and the natural world; helping to maintain said natural world; how to live in the natural world with a minimum of technology, to the benefit of all concerned. Learning to survive in the wild without benefit of electricity, technology, internal combustion engines, etc...is a skill that never goes to waste, even while living in a Manhatten apartment.
The COTEF's current location is a lovely woodlands, nearly virginal again having survived 'technology' at various levels for many years, COTEF in conjunction with the landowners are endeavoring to return it to it's vernal best with careful and judicious pruning of the woodland, re-introduction of native plant life and utilization of various natural resources present in abundance.
This summer I attended COTEF's Family, Youth and Teen Experience as a volunteer. I brought along my two grand daughters and 14 year old cousin. The were all excited as soon as they found out they were attending - the girls practicing shelter and my cousin starting a bow drill kit for fire. But the lessons they learned once they arrived helped them blossom in to new, more self assured people. The were able to learn from a fantastic staff who nurtured, protected and guided them every moment of every day. They met like minded peers and realized they had an even deeper connection to nature and the earth. They were nourished by a wonderful head chef with delicious healthy foods, some of which they'd never experienced before! Their growth blew me away, as did the dedication of all the staff, Interns and volunteers. All three of the kids want to go back next summer, and so do I. What a fantastic nonprofit. Im so thankful these skills are being passed on to all of us!
I am a foster mom of many years and I attended my first Wilderness Survival Weekend with 4 children, ages 6, 11, 13 and 17. This was quite a challenge, especially with T, the 13 year old who was from the inner city. This weekend was so far from his comfort zone and he was determined to hate it. Since my hands were quite full with the other children, I turned to the staff for help. Not only did they devote time to T, they encouraged him, and cheered him on when he was the first camper to make fire. This weekend turned a street-tough inner city kid to a wilderness-smart young man. We left the weekend dirty, happy and at peace with the great outdoors.
I later took the Educators Class so I could learn their techniques in order to teach other children. I left that weekend smarter than the average bear! (Showing my age here). I am looking forward to next year so I can bring more children, and so I can go again!
When COTEF offered a week in Aspen, Colorado (June, 2010), I offered my services as a high-altitude plant expert and as volunteer help. I, too, had learned plants the traditional Native American way and taught others as an individual as well as writing a local handbook. I was curious as to the approach COTEF used as an organization. I was so impressed by their method of approach, their leadership style and the results that they achieved with children, that I have now asked permission to do a research study of the group at the doctoral level. My intention is to bring more attention to this program and the traditional Native American values that are used in the program development.
Theresa (Tree) Leonhardt
My son and I did not know what to expect at first, but I quickly realized that the couse follows the same kind of skills that are thought at Tom Brown's Standard classes that I had previouly taken. However, the class is geared towards children and are therefore not as intensive as Tom's. My son is 13 and it was a great way to introduce him to the experience! He was afraid to do some of the night skills while blindfolded, but after he started doing it he had not problem. The staff provided a very safe environment for the kids to learn about themselves and face their fears. This kind of initiation into reality is what is needed for kids that are bored and disapointed with the made-up and un-natural society that we force them to get trained on. It was hard to leave after a week of experiencing this way of life. My only complaint would be that there was not more to learn and since there were not enough older kids to separate into age groups, most of the activities were done as a group (all ages together). Howerver, having said that, having the younger kids as part of the experience was a teaching experience. The young kids were not afraid to say what they felt from their heart! This has been trained out of older kids and adults and it is a great loss!
Review from Guidestar
My children tend to be very introverted. They shy away from those they don't know and rarely speak to people outside of the family. By the end of the Family Survival Weekend, they were laughing and playing with the kids and instructors alike. My daughter got up and spoke in front of the entire group during the closing ceremony. They felt very comfortable and confident in all the things they learned over just a few days.
The instructors and staff of COTEF have an uncanny ability to work with children from many different backgrounds and personalities. They bring out the best in them while teaching them things we never thought they were capable of doing. Anyone who has had experience teaching a group of kids or just bringing them to a playground knows how difficult that can be. The Staff handled it with ease.
The underlying work that COTEF represents is equally important to empowering our children. The hope for our children's future lies within us, but within them as well, and the skills they learn to connect with the natural world that will ensure that future lies within COTEF.
I hope to join my children at many more COTEF programs...
Review from Guidestar
I know many groups and organizations claim to "Change" lives - but in my experience this one actually does. I sent my two daughters here for multiple weeks each over the course of several years and in both cases after just their first week the change noted was astounding. The change is difficult to describe but impossible not to notice. My first daughter completed her first week almost 10 years ago and still raves about her experiences there.
I attended a family course with my ten year old son, but I am also an educational professional with much experience in program design and supervision. COTEF's programs are among the best I have ever witnessed or read of. Their programs align with their mission and educational goals from the ground up; having knowledge of their content I can see deep connections and foreshadowing of future, higher-level learning even in their beginning lessons. Their staff are extremely well trained, with skill in the content and teaching methodology, and much patience and positive reinforcement. For staff and volunteers this is obviously a labor of love. Add that to thorough skill and training and you have a brilliant program.
WHAT they teach at COTEF is unique and important. Their content offers authentic educational experiences that align with the natural sciences but go beyond that to provide students insight into self, society, nature. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Truly an amazing experience. The peak for me was having my young daughter, who would not even enter a room at home with the lights out, say: let's go again!!! She was referring to an optional night time activity that involved following a trail through the woods blindfolded with no lights whatsoever!!! The staff and volunteers are amazing. I will attend again.