Thanks to the ongoing generosity of Feronia Forward, we were able to take two grade levels of Morningside Community students to Ramblewild for a day of learning in nature! Our 52 third grade students participated in team building activities to support the social-emotional learning that is taking place daily at our school , learned about geometry in nature and completed a scavenger hunt hike to find examples. The students were able to collect data that they brought back to the classroom and have used in their current graphing unit in math. The experience of seeing the students excited to find shapes, angles and show their ability to distinguish between them was inspiring to say the very least. Our 60 fourth graders also participated in team building activities, but were also exposed to orienteering and sustainability of resources. The students learned through hands-on experiences how to use a compass, set a course and search out objects. I can't wait to see this experience transfer to their study of angles, degrees in a circle and measurement units! In addition, the students hiked and discussed renewable resources and even had the opportunity to build and test their own water filters.Both days were filled to the brim with activities to engage and educate our children in a unique and meaningful way. The students of Morningside don't always get to have "outdoor adventures" or learn beyond the "book", thus I can't emphasize enough how appreciative we are for the kindness that was extended to us, the level of preparation that went into the activities and the flexibility of the staff. Thank you does not do justice to how we wish we could show our gratitude!
We were fortunate enough to have an amazing day at Ramblewild in October! We had about 55 students who all enjoyed and learned that day. One of the activities the students loved the most was the low ropes course. They had two different strategies to figure out. One was the rope swing where they had to work together to get everyone from one side to the other. The other one was to help guide a student on a rope with two other students there to support so they didn't fall. The group I was with had done the rope swing. It was amazing to see students work together so well. At first, it was clear who was the leader, but the more they tried to complete the task, other leaders emerged. They all shared their ideas and listened to one another. It was great to see students realize their voice matters!!
Thanks to the generosity of Feronia Forward, about fifty students from Abbott Memorial School were able to participate in a full day outdoor learning experience at Ramblewild on September 26, 2019. The staff of Ramblewild did a quick, yet thorough, clip system training on a mini practice course. It was the perfect way for each student to confidently learn how to use the system in a safe and practical manner. It really alleviated many of the fears that so many of them had about participating in the higher elements! Once out on the challenge courses, the amount of peer support, excitement, conquering of fears, team-building, reassurance, problem-solving, collaboration, and appreciation of nature that was experienced by EVERY SINGLE one of us was truly mesmerizing. At one point, a few of the students and I closed our eyes, just to take in the experience from all our senses. You could smell the outdoors, feel the light drizzle of rain, and hear a wonderful combination of noises, including the voices of everyone enjoying themselves. From this experience, we saw future linesmen/women, counselors, thrill seekers, engineers, biologists, and conservationists. Some of the best quotes of the day: “This was the best day of my life”, “I liked this even better than Nature’s Classroom”, “I can’t believe I did it”, “I am so proud of him for doing it”, “Look”, “Look at this”, “Look at me”, “See this”, and best of all “I’m conquering my fears” as he repelled past us! This was a perfect way to start the school year and build a wonderful connection with each other and the wonders of the woods. We ALL had a blast and are very thankful for the donation and opportunity that Feronia Forward gifted to us.
Our Middle School team of 80 students was fortunate to receive a grant for a trip to RambleWild. As a new 7th grade, coming together from five area elementary schools, teambuilding and bonding is essential for student success.
The registration process was easy and quick . Your staff was very efficient and our team was up on the hill getting their gear in no time.
The quick lesson on the clip system was thorough and comprehensive. As students completed the training, they were able to immediately get on the course. Students who were reluctant were encouraged by both staff members and peers.
The RambleWild facility is quite impressive and the quality of the equipment is exceptional. All of the students and adults felt challenged, yet safe. This was an amazing opportunity for our students as they bond as a team during their middle school years. Thank you!!
I attended a field trip with Team Ninevah from Mount Anthony Union Middle School from Bennington, Vermont to Ramblewild. What a great experience this was. The staff at Ramblewild were very professional and made all of pour students feel welcome. The best part of the trip for me was to get to see the students build their self confidence by challenging themselves to try harder courses. There was also great team building and students encouraging students which was wonderful. This was a great experience that all students should do.
Is there a thing like 'Too much Fun'? The group that went to Ramblewild had a time of their life. One of the mothers, Nora P. stated "All of us had a great time, but the kids and young adults had a confidence building experience to last a lifetime."
I am the activities coordinator for HMEA's Autism Resource Central in Worcester Massachusetts. On Sunday October 6, 2019 we had 27 kids and adult chaperones attend a very fun filled afternoon swinging among the leaves on the aerial park of Ramblewild. The adults had as much fun as the kids and young adults. What was a drizzle for most of our time there did not dampen our spirits. We were under a heavy canopy of fir trees that kept us dry except for the sweat we accumulated from having so much fun.
We started out paired up (one person with autism and one chaperone) but soon realized that the kids were much faster than the adults. They left us in the dust, to continue on the adventure with their friends. Many of the people in this group had never done an aerial park before, after about a half hour they were all feeling like pros. The biggest challenge we had all day was overcoming our fear of the "leap of faith", myself included. We all leaped, landing with a huge smile and the awesome realization that we accomplished something very huge.
I cannot say enough great things about the awesome staff. The entire staff was so encouraging to everyone that attended. They all truly love their jobs and loved our "kids". Their smiles were always warm and heartfelt. True professionalism from start to finish.
Thank you for a wonderful day and a great team building adventure.
As a teacher at Morningside Community School, I can not say enough thanks to the staff at Ramblewild and the amazing opportunity they gave our students for the day. A huge thank you to Feronia Forward for supporting our school and our students to engage them in learning that is way outside of their comfort zone. Our students engaged in talks about sustainability and its effects on nature as well as learning by doing by using compases to do a scavenger hunt. Students also created a filter used a small creek as an example and were challenged to filter out cinnamon as well as oregano using only what they could find around them in the woods.
Being a school in a very urban area of Pittsfield, our students are not always exposed to nature and this wonderful part of the Berkshires that we live in. Being able to go to Ramblewild opened their thinking to why we learn what we learn as well as how our actions can have an effect on nature and put them in the forefront of their learning.
Thanks again for the amazing opportunity!
There are no words to adequately express the gratitude I feel for the opportunity Feronia Forward has provided our 3rd grade students. Without their generosity, and the incredibly inviting staff at Ramblewild, our kiddos would not have had the opportunity to spend the day in the woods, immersed in nature and exploration.
As Albert Einstein said, "Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." Taking our students into the woods to explore and form connections to the science curriculum made such a positive impact on their understanding and appreciation for what they are learning.
The staff were so inviting, helpful, and full of information. All of the activities were aligned with our curriculum, and the children had a wonderful time. It was a truly wonderful experience that I know the children will remember for years to come.
Thank you so much :)
During our experience at Ramblewild the students were guided through various interactions with nature and the world around them. These experiences were designed to align with our Next Generation Science Standards, but more than that, they aligned us. For the time that we were in the woods the children worked collaboratively in small groups to identify various leaf types, find examples of weathering and erosion, conduct a scavenger hunt, and to enjoy a meditative moment for themselves. The hours passed liked minutes, and every child remarked at how much they enjoyed the experience. True learning experiences do not always take shape in text books alone; they involve interactions, feelings, and using our senses. This was a learning experience the students will remember for years to come, and I am happy to have been a part of it!
Feronia Forward has been very generous in funding our youth group's continuing work at Ramblewild! At the YPF’s second trip to the outdoor education center, Ramblewild threw another very different set of challenges our way! Our first visit last spring provided opportunities for groups to face the challenges of the high ropes course- definitely outside of many participants’ comfort zone. Sunday’s group-building exercises in the low-ropes course pushed our group of teens into situations of communication and cooperation that were frustrating at moments, funny at others, and ultimately a great learning experience. I was very proud of every participant because no activity could have happened successfully without 100% participation and cooperation from the group. Nothing beat the moment when all 11 teenagers stood balanced on a giant (VERY TIPPY) see-saw and sang “Row Row Row Your Boat” all the way through!
YPF finished by completing a creative brainstorm of possible service projects, sharing their ideas of how they could make the world better. The list included ideas like helping the homeless and hungry, cleaning up parks or streets, restoring a nature trail, even advocating for a “car-free” day in Pittsfield! These ideas will shape a developing facet of our Young People’s Fellowship; service to the community.
The Young People's Fellowship, an interfaith group for teens based at Saint Stephen's needed an experience to bring us closer together and build excitement around our growing group. This trip to Ramblewild, generously funded by Feronia Forward provided a crucial bonding experience for this group of Pittsfield area teens. The day spent there will provide a common reference point and bonding experience which will strengthen our YPF going forward. Not only did we have a great time on the excellent ropes course, but our participants got very excited about possible future opportunities for service, learning and experiences in nature. We look forward to more collaboration with Feronia Forward as we explore opportunities for activism, community service, and deepened relationships with each-other. Thank you !!
What a great experience it was to bring our freshmen cohort from McCann Technical High School to Ramblewild! Students were able to learn valuable lessons in teamwork, peer encouragement, and perseverance through their awesome tree-to-tree adventure park!
Feronia forward was so easy to work with and allowed our students to have such a great experience at Ramblewild. Due to their generosity our entire freshmen class was able to attend this great experience. Our students really gained a large amount of self confidence as they negotiated the aerial park trails. Students also got to enjoy some time 'unplugged' from electronics and 'normal' school activities. Many of our students simply enjoyed being outside of the classroom and in nature. Ramblewild is an excellent location to grow a young persons sense of self confidence, self worth and friends! If it wasn't for the scholarship our class received from Feronia Forward many of our students would have been unable to attend the trip (most of our students are from lower income families).
I am incredibly grateful for the generosity of this organization! They accommodated a large group of our PHS science students for the day in order to run a STEM program and a climbing event. We had a group of physics students and a group of environmental science students. Ramblewild began the day splitting the groups and bringing the physics students into the park in order to talk about the physics of the ropes/obstacle course with a staff member/physics expert. The environmental group went on a guided hike where they learned about maple production, renewable energy, and sustainable forestry.
In the late morning/afternoon portion if the program, students were able to experiment with climbing in the park. I witnessed some incredible team building and fear conquering.
Every one of my students reported that they learned a substantial amount over the course of the day and had a positive experience. Thank you so much for making this possible!
It was a pleasure to meet you on Sunday while we were visiting Ramblewild with a bunch of friends from the Autism Center (Worcester). I cannot say enough great things about your entire staff. They were phenomenal with everyone that attended the outing. True professionalism from start to finish.
I have two children with high functioning Asperger's. It is difficult for us because they seem to fall through the cracks in many activities because they are not "special" enough for special needs and just "strange" enough not to fit in with their neurotypical peers easily. It is very difficult as a parent to witness this time and again so, it is even more amazing for us to see them excel so well in activities such as ropes and zip-lines. It is an activity that allows them to make decisions for themself and live or recover (safely) with their decisions. The look of achievement and excitement on each face as they realize what the CAN do is truly amazing. It is an activity in which they only compete with themself and their own perception of fear. My son is afraid of heights and one of my daughters has severe anxiety and yet, they both LOVE to climb and zip. They may not have at first but, after showing them that they could do it, we haven't been able to stop them. It is truly amazing. We are usually the last ones to leave because everytime we try to leave, they want to climb just one more time!
Thank-you for having all of us out to your establishment, it benefited so many SO much more than you realize. Not only did it show each one of the kids how much they can do (like everyone) else but, it also showed Mom and Dad what they can do (just like every other child) and that is not something we get to see too often. So much of the time, these kids are being told what to do and what not to do so that they fit in or to keep them safe, etc. It was such an exhilarating feeling to be able to put our children on the course and watch them go- and GO they DID.
Thank-you again for having this special and fantastic group of people out to Ramblewild, it is an adventure that they will never forget. Thank-you to your amazing staff that did nothing but encourage and praise each and every person. A truly wonderful experience for all.
I teach high school students and my fellow teachers were looking for a day trip out of the ordinary that would build community within the grade, challenge students individually, and be fun. Ramblewild checked all of the boxes.
I was especially impressed how efficient and engaging the staff was from drop off to pick up with both students and faculty. Processing and initial safety training was well organized and fluid. It didn't take much time for students to be in the trees and having fun. I highly recommend this facility for an outdoor adventure.
Our 9th grade took a day-trip to RambleWild to participate in the high ropes course and they had an amazing time. It was wonderful for Feronia Forward to offer our class the opportunity for some real team building. The greatest aspect of using RambleWild for team building is the fact that the outdoor environment and unique challenges faced in the park are perfectly suited for students to go from "strangers" to "friends."
As teachers completing the course with the students, it was a great opportunity for us to form bonds with our students that have helped us to teach more effectively in the weeks that have followed our trip. All in all, Feronia provided our students the opportunity to work cooperatively and support each other in a "non-traditional" environment.
Thank you so much to Feronia Forward Ltd. for making this trip possible! As an administrator, I found it so rewarding to actually see the students using the skills they gain in school in a public setting. Ramblewild provided them with the opportunity to support each other and problem solve as groups while experiencing the outdoors in a brand new way. I appreciate having had the chance to run through the courses with the students, cheering each other on, fostering our sense of community. Seeing and hearing the happiness and camaraderie of our students was so fulfilling - This was truly one of the more rewarding experiences of my professional career.
Ramblewild was 100% ready for our arrival. They wasted no time preparing us for the courses - ensuring our safety and providing us accessible education on how to use their equipment appropriately. Each one of us was able to do courses which met individual comfort levels and we were afforded the opportunity to push our boundaries on more difficult courses, if we so chose. The staff were supportive and attentive to our needs, which allowed us to have a smooth experience. No time was wasted, as our students and staff were able to run the courses as many times as desired before it was time for us depart.
Thank you, thank you! I hope our students are able to experience Ramblewild again in the future, your generosity is appreciated.
I was fortunate enough to visit Ramblewild with my school as a chaperone. I was thrilled with how excited and engaged the students were on the courses. They were supportive of each other, listened well and heeded all the words from the Ramblewild employees, and even gave me a boost of encouragement when I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the course I was on! I see this ability to offer kind and supportive words to one another as a great skill that will be helpful not only on the ropes courses of Ramblewild, but in the classroom, and out in the world, as well! Thanks to Feronia Forward Ltd. for providing us with this exciting opportunity (:
Due to the generosity of a scholarship from the Feronia Forward Foundation, given to our 5th Grade students at Conte Community School we were able to provide our students opportunities and experiences they may not be able to have. With this being said, the experience our students had and have had in the past renders me speechless. From the start of our day the students energy, excitement, nervousness, curiosity, and joy is infectious.
This journey that they get to experience is beyond powerful. I find it difficult to put into words what we witness. Although we do social skills training in the classroom, the experience of seeing the students excitement and fears is incredible. Students encourage and cheer each other on as they make their way through the courses. Some are fearless and tackle the elements, while others stay back, but are giving it their best.
What is compelling to watch are those that may not typically interact with a peer are the biggest cheerleaders, and at times, guide others and help them be successful. Shouts of encouragement such as “You’ve got this!'' or “Try it like this!” can be heard among the forest.
This experience is something they will hold onto and remember the rest of their lives. Some will recall how they overcame their fear, and trepidation but persevered. Others may reflect that while they thought they couldn’t do this, they loved it and did multiple courses. All will reflect on how they supported each other and truly came together as a Grade 5 Team.
Thanks to a scholarship from the Feronia Forward Foundation I had a tremendous opportunity to bring my class of twenty-eight fifth grade students from Stearns Elementary School in Pittsfield, MA to Ramblewild for a day of environmental adventure. I reached out to Ramblewild staff for their expertise in developing an educational program tailored to our STEAM based state standards; they were extraordinarily helpful and together we developed a lesson plan focused on discovering the various aspects of their forest ecosystem. The staff led us on an hour-guided nature hike through the forest and the students recorded "Trail Notes" of the planst and animals that they observed along the way. When we returned to the lodge we discussed the various discoveries different students observed. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "It's not what you look at, but what you see." And, now our students were teaching each other about what they saw and learned in the forest ecosystem. The students were given a homework assignment to research an aspect of one of their findings that they recorded in their "Trail Notes" to deepen their appreciation of the forest and their knowledge of their environment. This experience greatly triggered their curiosity for learning about nature as reflected in their outstanding essays the next day and their continued interest in the natural sciences. We are truly grateful to Mr. Cugnasca and the Feronia Forward Foundation for making this wonderful educational experience possible. I highly recommend this to educators for their students at all grades.
5th Grade Teacher
Stearns Elementary School
I'm a fifth grade teacher that recently brought my class to Ramblewild, an outdoor aerial adventure park in Lanesboro, MA. through a Feronia Forward scholarship. Ramblewild instructors taught my students about the plants and animals in the forest and how they are connected in this ecosystem; then they were given a lesson on the science on ziplining. This was a day to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the natural world. The students began with ground school training to better understand the skills, techniques and challenges of the aerial courses. While climbing my students acquired skills in problem-solving, decision-making, stress management, self-confidence and teamwork. Students connected with their classmates and teachers in a fun, non-traditional learning environment.
Thank you to Feronia Forward and Ramblewild for making this experience possible for around 60 fifth grade students from Morningside Community School. Our students were given opportunities they otherwise may never have been exposed to. Some students flew through multiple courses and some persevered through just one. Yet, every single student relied on their classmates on the course around them to help them make it through.
One student in my class had attempted to go through the course on his own (twice) but was unable to make it past the second obstacle each time due to his fear of heights and anxiety from the unexpected obstacles. However with the support of the staff and other students around him he tried a third time. I went through the course with him and together we were able to complete the entire course! The pride and sense of accomplishment he showed after the last zip line was radiating from him.
I was then going to go up with another student who was also too nervous to finish the course, but the student who I had just gone with asked if HE could lead and teach the other student how to do the course. The three of us went up and I watched as my student, who had previously been terrified, maneuvered the course with confidence, taught his classmate the easiest way to get across each obstacle, and encouraged her the entire time. This student has struggled in the past to form interact appropriately with his peers when frustrated, so to see him here high above the ground showing such empathy and being so supportive even when he was challenged by the course yet again, was something I will never forget.
Each one of our students has a story like this to share about how they persevered and used teamwork to accomplish the goal they had set before them. I know that this experience and the skills they learned at Ramblewild will be something that they will always remember and will help them as they face other challenges throughout their lives.
Once again, so much thanks to Feronia Forward and Ramblewild for providing our students with this life changing opportunity.
My son has multiple learning challenges and as a mom I wasn't sure how he would respond to the aerial adventures Ramblewild provides. Upon arrival I instantly felt at ease, the staff is not only knowledgeable but encouraging the whole day thru - I cannot tell you how much I appreciate them. The facilities are beautiful, well kept and safe. My son and his father were smiling the whole way home talking about their fear of heights they had overcome and the moments they shared while in the air. What a special place!
I am the coordinator of a YMCA based Mentoring Program. We recently visited Ramblewild through a generous grant from Feronia Forward. The students are ages 13 and 14. The mentors are in their 20's and 30's. If anything levels the playing field and reduces the generation gap it is facing a physical challenge together. The ropes courses and zip lines are ingeniously designed to lead one around the forest through the tree tops. Each crossing from tree to tree is carefully set up to be difficult and safe at the same time. The students were dubious about many of the crossings, but once the courage was found, they experienced joy and the pride of overcoming fear. This park is a beautiful way to experience nature while having the fun of climbing around in the tree tops.
Our experience at Ramblewild made the kickoff for the YMCA Mentoring Program so successful!
The eighth grade students from Drury HS were meeting their mentors for the first time. The ropes course at Ramblewild was the perfect environment for the students and adults to get to know each other.
The kids were blown away by the challenges they found in among the trees. They discovered courage they didn't know they had and support for each other that would never show up in the socially competitive environment of school. The adults were also thrilled with the experience. Nervous as they were to meet their mentees for the first time, the forest provided a fun and exciting challenge to be navigated together.
I appreciated so much the esthetic beauty of the courses and that while flying or cake walking from one tree to another, our safety was never once in question.
Our guide created a safe and supportive place both physically and emotionally for us to launch ourselves as a group.
Feronia Forward's immediate and unwavering financial support for this event was something I have never experienced in my years of working in education. Your commitment to exposing kids to nature and physical challenge is extraordinary.
A sincere thanks from us all'
Carolyn Brooks, Berkshire Family YMCA Mentoring PRogram
by Jean Grant – We are a family of wanderers and nature lovers. Our lures: local trails, national parks, road trips, puddles, and oceans…or unique rock formations along the roadside.
Getting among the trees is our escape from the daily grind, where we can breathe in the verdant serenity and lose ourselves to ancient forests.
So when the director of a tree-to-tree adventure park invited my family for a day to visit in the Berkshires who was I to say no?
The director assured me that the tree-to-tree adventure park is designed for all comfort and fitness levels, so my child on the autism spectrum would be accommodated for and would experience it at his own level.
Read Jean Grant's family's entire, amazing experience with Feronia Forward and Ramblewild at Outdoor Families Magazine
Feronia Forward Ltd. and Ramblewild LLC have bee instrumental in providing outdoor adventure opportunities to students with disabilities in Berkshire County over the last two years. Students and their family members have been able to challenge themselves both physically and mentally in the tree-to-tree adventure park whether up on an element or watching from below. The elements are not easy. The inner dialogue in your head isn't always encouraging. But the staff, students, and family members are supportive and the successes are many and great. Students have overcome significant obstacles to demonstrate independence and self-determination in the trees. Their self-confidence has blossomed, and it carries over into their daily lives. Thank you for the generous funding allowing us to bring students and their families to Ramblewild. It's a life-changing experience that everyone should be able to partake in because every single participant will gain something extraordinarily positive from it.
Feronia Forward LTd. provided my class with the opportunity to visit Ramblewild, an outdoor adventure course. The group consisted of chaperones and students with Special Needs. Some of the students had been before and were able to move ahead and master a more difficult course. For others, it was their first experience. All of the adults on the trip were amazed with how well everyone worked together and helped each other. Certain students were afraid and nervous. At the end these students were so proud that they were able to conquer a course. The feeling of accomplishment is one that no one on this trip will forget. It was an amazing adventure and chance for the students to communicate and use teamwork to reach a goal. Thank you so much Feronia Forward Ltd. for allowing the adults and students to have such a memorable event. The students were able to bring the teamwork back into their school and talk about how wonderful this experience was for each and every person involved. Thank you!!!
I have been teaching 5th grade at Stearns Elementary School in Pittsfield, MA, for the past 14 years, and one of the most amazing highlights has been taking our students to Ramblewild. We have been fortunate to be able to take our students to this incredible education center for the last 5 years. For most of our students, this trip has been their first time experiencing this amazing aerial park. I am always in awe when I see how the students' self-confidence emerges as they work in teams (not preselected teams) to help one another accomplish their goal of completing the aerial courses.
We also have been able to share this experience and introduce the many educational facets of this property to teachers in Berkshire County through a Professional Development Day in 2016--and we are looking forward to another PD Day that we have planned for November 6, 2018. In fact, we were totally booked (50 teachers) within the first day of registration.
The lessons that our students have learned from the Ramblewild Educational program has carried over into our Science curriculum--specifically 5th grade Science Standards include the process of photosynthesis, the life cycle of trees, transfer of energy (wind turbines at Ramblewild), to name just a few. Every year 5th graders in Massachusetts are invited to participate in the Arbor Day Poster Contest which centers around certain themes. Last year, the theme was "My Community, My Trees", and the students presented their posters to the Ramblewild staff. We were happy to find out that one of our students won "1st Place" in the State, and the DCR Commissioner held a ceremony at our school commemorating the 150th year anniversary of the DCR and planted a tree! When asked to say a few words--I also mentioned our wonderful educational experience that Ramblewild gives us every time we are fortunate to be able to go.
Thank you for this incredible experience to have given to our children!!
5th Grade Teacher
Stearns Elementary School
75 Lebanon Avenue
Pittsfield, MA 01201
I want to thank the Feronia Forward Ltd. Scholarship for providing my child and many of the 5th grade students from Stearns Elementary School with a day to experience the adventure courses at Ramblewild in Lanesborough, Massachusetts. Our students have intense demands put on them through structured classroom learning, benchmark evaluation and standardized testing. Ramblewild provided a much needed day of fun and relief from textbook learning in a way that supported initiatives happening in the school. Stearns promotes the concept of having “grit” to its students – learning from mistakes, trying again, and never giving up until you’re able to achieve your goals. I watched students employ this grit concept in a very physical yet strategic way as they navigated the challenging adventure courses that Ramblewild had to offer. I could not be more thankful to have experienced this with my child and their classmates. Kudos should also be given to teachers and staff who attended, and huge “thank you” to Mr. Andrew Mickle who serves as a volunteer at Ramblewild. Without Mr. Mickle’s connections to this program I don’t believe this trip would have been possible. I sincerely hope this trip continues for Stearns students for years to come.
I was fortunate to be invited to chaperone a trip for Stearns school on September 27, 2018. This was the second time I was able to participate in climbing the courses at Ramblewild, and both times the experience I shared with the children were very unique. I found myself not only encouraging the students and guiding them through the elements, but also having them help me out on some of the more difficult or challenging ones. I was able to see some of them go from being very apprehensive to watching the thrill on their faces when they accomplished each individual challenge. I know that speaking to some of them, they would have never been able to experience this if it wasn’t for the generosity of the people who donate to these organizations. Thank you Feronia Forward for giving these students an experience they will never forget.
Paolo and the people at Feronia Forward were great to work with. Because of their help and support, 10 youths who not have the means to partake in an activate such as the ropes coarse at Ramblewild. Most of these youths come from low income, single parent families. Such activities as the ropes coarse helps these youths not only experience something new and exciting, but they were able to work as a team, and build confidence in themselves. Experiences such as this can help open their eyes and minds to new opportunities that they were unaware of before. Paolo was easy to work with and the communication between my program and Feronia Forward was reliable, with quick response to emails or phone calls. I would gladly work with them again and recommend Feronia Forward to any person or organization.
I had the pleasure of chaperoning the 5th grade class from Stearns Elementary school, who were fortunate enough to be gifted with an awesome experience of a day at Ramblewild in Lanesboro, MA. For many of the students, this was their first time at this amazing aerial park. The day was simply the best; from the excited chattering of the students on the bus trip up there, to the awe and amazement of the first practice round! By far, the best part of this day was the giggling heard throughout the forest, along with the supportive cheering of classmates working together and “having the time of their lives!.” Students were able to work together to accomplish the different courses and push themselves out of their comfort zones, to experience a day like no other. In an age where technology is King, getting back to the basics of outdoor activity and student to student collaboration and teamwork, is something that just can’t be taught in the classroom. This class felt extremely honored to be provided with the Fernoia Forward Scholarship and embraced all that the day had to offer. The staff was amazing and supportive and the day was filled with these students feeling a sense of accomplishment. Thank you for this once in a lifetime experience from a proud mom of not only my own children, but their amazing friends who truly lived this day to the fullest!
Feronia Forward and Ramblewild offer a truly unique outdoor experience for people of all ages. For the last two years, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation has partnered with Feronia Forward, bringing one of our student groups, all the way from Houston, Texas, to Feronia’s Ramblewild adventure park. Many of these students have rarely, if ever, left the city of Houston so the opportunity to experience nature in such a unique and dramatic fashion through Ramblewild’s arboreal obstacle courses is something that they never forget. While our student group is always of greatly varying abilities and confidence levels, the different levels of difficulty in the obstacle courses ensure that all students are able to properly challenge themselves.
Feronia’s staff are top notch and will work to cater your group’s experience to best fit your interests and needs. Everything from Ramblewild's obstacle courses to team building exercises to nature education to hiking are a possibility. The Coolidge Foundation has been very grateful for the scholarship opportunities Feronia has offered in the past to students and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Feronia and Ramblewild for many years to come!
I would enthusiastically recommend Ramblewild to any family, school group, or individual who is looking for a unique and personalized opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. Don't miss out – you are not going to be able to find the Ramblewild experience elsewhere!
As the principal of a very small Prekindergarten through sixth grade elementary student I am always looking for ways to expand our campus and help students see the the connection between what they learn in the classroom and the world they live in. This year we started collaborating with Feronia Forward and Ramblewild.
On our first excursion our second through sixth graders went on an informative, engaging, physical, and fun hike through the property. The group learned about ways the forest can be sustainably utilized in ways that all benefit, were exposed to history through nature, and learned about plant identification, invasive species, symbiotic relationships in nature, and much more through hands-on, engaging activities facilitated by talented educators. In addition, team building activities were seamlessly woven into the days activities.
We are all excited to continue to work with Feronia Forward and Ramblewild!
On September 16th, this single Mom with her two children, ages 12 & 10, were given an opportunity unlike non other. We entered the Ramblewild forest on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and our adventure began. Having grown up in the Berkshires we are familiar with the woods and the magic of wandering down a trail, we have not however experienced being up in the trees, like the birds we marvel.
We were given our equipment and headed to ground school. We learned the proper ways to hook up and maneuver the course. I have never seen such excitement in my children's eyes. Once we mastered the course, we were able to move on to the real courses They have 4 levels, and we happily started on yellow (1st level).
The courses are challenging and you really put yourself out of your comfort zone. I am not afraid of heights, but as I get older, I am more and more apprehensive. I knew I was safe and followed my fearless children as they encouraged me (talk about role reversal!) through the course. The best part was zip lining, a feature on each course. That was so much fun! After two courses, I watched my children continue on two additional courses.
It was so nice to spend an afternoon in the woods, bonding with my children. It was really a team building experience for our family, that I would recommend to anyone who feels you never have enough time to spend with your kids. The world was quiet for a little while, no work, no school, no electronics....just us.
The Feronia Forward organization is top notch! The memories they have created for so many children is incredible. We were blessed to be included in that special day and are forever thankful!
My Grandaughter age 10, and I were there today(9/16/18) I with a shoulder implant and she with Anxieties,We had an amazing day! We helped each other,others were helpful and encouraging. Poalo exspecially made My Granddaughter feel proud of herself and confidant with his encouraging words to She and I completed three Coarses,at the end leaping off a platform,High above the ground to Float to the ground ,I was totally amazed with her for being so small to follow me ,We were scared and Happy all at once,The expirience for me ,to do this with her at an Older age was Priceless,Thank-you Ramblewild!
On May 11, 2018. twenty-nine fourth grade students from Lanesborough Elementary School headed not far up the road for a great day filled with connections to nature, team-building challenges, and a chance to experiment with their courage at Ramblewild Aerial Adventure Park. This amazing opportunity came to us through a generous grant from Feronia Forward.
The action began with a group hike, pausing every so often to notice bits of nature normally overlooked. White and silver birch trees, green fiddlehead ferns, and gray lichen made an impact on these kids, evidenced by their choice of these words as future spelling words when we returned to the classroom.
After lunch, we all headed to the elements. It was wonderful to see some students jump right in and go. Their confidence only increased after their climb. More than a few students hesitated at first, but were surprised and proud of their accomplishments. Others were able to climb to their limit, stopping when they knew that they had had enough. This self-awareness combined with the ability to voice their true feelings was a powerful lesson for both students and teachers.
Through a brief pre/post survey, these “sons and daughters of the Berkshires” made it clear that nature and outdoor activities were and continue to be important to them. A result worth mentioning is that prior to the trip, 48% of the students reported that they often stick with activities even when they are difficult. After the trip, 75% reported that they often stuck with difficult activities!
Thank you Ramblewild and Feronia Forward.
Fourth Grade Teacher
Lanesborough Elementary School
I’m not afraid of heights anymore. Matthew M.
I felt less clumsy and more steady on my feet after the obstacles. Ava R.
I have a brave side. I can do anything I set my mind to. Ava C.
I learned that I like being high up in the air! Madison
Nature can heal and help. Tyne
I learned to breathe to stay calm. Thomas
I am brave and take risks! Isabel
I had the pleasure of taking my Kindergarten class to Ramblewild this week for an amazing nature/forest experience. We listened like rabbits and walked like foxes as we treked up the path through the forest, stopping to talk about the things we saw and heard. Lunch was a picnic in the forest and afterwards we collected nature items to use in an art project. Our guide, Linda Belanger, kept the students engaged throughout our journey. It was a wonderful experience for all!!! The kids loved it (and so did I!!) Marian Gennette
The second graders at Lanesborough Elementary school were one of the lucky classes to be offered a wonderful fieldtrip to Ramblewild. They hiked a trail and learned what it's like to open up to nature through their sense. They used their imagination to feel what's it's like to be part of nature through the eyes of a forest animal. They also had a chance to explore the forest with magnifying glasses. " We found so many treasures!" This was truly a beautiful, inspiring, and rejuvenating experience. Our forest guide, Linda, did a super job engaging all students. After returning to school the children wrote about their experience at Ramblewild in their journals. They were so excited to share about the day that you could hear a pin drop as they wrote. One student exclaimed "I wrote 4 pages of details!" This was a student who struggled with writing in the past. This made my heart sing! It was a reminder that connecting with nature is a great way to recharge the batteries at the end of a school year. Thank you, thank you!
My name is John, and I have been working as a Communication Lab Teacher (speech-language pathologist) for 30 years. I recently had the opportunity to share an experience at Ramblewild with my 5th grade students, fellow teachers, and parents. Having collaborated with other professionals in a ropes course program some years ago, I keenly appreciated the level of professionalism and attention to detail the Ramblewild staff demonstrated as they interacted with us during our visit. Student safety was the upmost concern and the equipment appeared in good condition. Ramblewild staff were warm, engaging and caring toward our students. I heartily recommend the Ramblewild program to other fellow educators looking for a safe, meaningful, stimulating and fun experience for the children in their care. I collectively thank the Ramblewild staff, my colleagues, and our parent chaperones for putting together such a fabulous day of learning and discovery for our students and for us!
My daughter and I recently had the pleasure attending a 5th grade Pownal Elementary School field trip to Ramble Wild. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Feronia Forward to have provided us this incredible eye opening experience. I don’t believe that we would have had this experience on our own. The spirit and sense of community that was brought to life amongst these students was impressive. It will forever be a memory of what can happen when individuals grow together and become a caring group empowered by overcoming their fears. What a beautiful positive memory and day for us all! With sincere gratitude, Lara and Maggie
This was an amazing experience. I was a chaperone/parent with Pownal Elementary School fifth graders. The staff was exceptional. They shared amazing experience and great patience with all who participated. They had nothing but positive things to say and encourage all. I watched the tentative child from shaking at 8feet off the ground to climbing a suspended wall probably 20feet off the ground at the end of the day. While encouraging another child he sais to me "you don't understand i don't go outside", this blew me away. The children have been working on team work throughout the year. To see how they helped each other was amazing. I can't wait to go back with my family and share this experience. Thank you Ramblewild and Feronia Forward for this amazing experience. Heather Steinhoff
March 24, 2018
To Whom It May Concern;
Feronia Forward Ltd has made and continues to have a positive impact on the lives of my students. My name is Deborah Calderara and I am a teacher at Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School in Adams, Massachusetts. BART is a small school nestled in Berkshire County, the population of students is 362, includes sixth up to twelfth grade. We are a college prep school, we prepare students to meet the challenge of being accepted into a college and to thrive in college. Some of our students who attend BART are first generation to attend college.
Three years ago I reached out to Ramblewild to inquire about a field trip for my eighth grade students, it was the fall and the eighth grade team of teachers were noticing tension between the students. I wanted to provide an opportunity to have students experience nature; to be introduced to the benefits of wind power; learn how engineering and technology play a role in harvesting maple sap and in the arial park as well; how to communicate with their peers and teachers, and while challenging themselves. Ramblewild checked all of these-boxes. With the help of Feronia Forward Ltd, we were able to secure a field trip at a very reduced rate and later send the sixth grade free of charge through their scholarship program.
In the fall of 2015 my eighth grade students and team of teachers spent the day at Ramblewild, many of the students don’t spend time outside, some live in neighborhoods where their parents deem it unsafe for them to play in their yard or they spend much of their down time on electronic devices. So being in nature left alone in the woods seemed awkward and out of their comfort zone. As we started in the arial park students were getting out of their comfort zone and taking a chance on the aerial course in the trees. At one point I stopped on the course to listen to my students. I immediately had tears rolling down my face because of what I was hearing. I heard students laughing, encouraging each other to keep trying and shouting words of encouragement to students and a few teachers. When I checked in with students for those few hours, I saw smiles and heard so many great stories of support and triumph.
We met at the lodge for lunch, what transpired was truly amazing. Students ate in much larger circles than their own comfort of a few friends, students who were somewhat loners were being asked by others to come sit with them, and no one was feeling unwelcome. This continued for the rest of the year; yes there was issues during the year but students would often think back to their experience at Ramblewild. In April of 2016 I had a group of eighth grade students approach me who stated they needed to go back to Ramblewild to get the eighth grade cohort back on track, they reported a lot of arguing and behaviors towards each other were negative. So once again I set up a field trip and received financial help from Feronia Forward Ltd. The trip again was what the students needed to get back in touch with nature and to remind them the importance of being kind and accepting of all. The Spring trip emphasized more on environmental stewardship, we visited the windmill site on the property to learn about clean energy and the benefits to our Earth. We also hiked to the sugar bush were the students were introduced to how engineering and technology supports the gathering of maple sap. The students were making connections to their math and science classes as we spend the day at Ramblewild.
Fast forward, I now have those eighth grade students for tenth grade. Their experience at Ramblewild still holds tight with them, their two experiences at the park has had a lasting impact on their lives. I believe in the current climate of our society more youth need to experience what my students did at Ramblewild thanks to Feronia Forward Ltd. . I look forward to further working with Feronia Forward Ltd.
Deborah A. Calderara
Berkshire Arts and Technology
On April 26, 2018 I was able to take my ninth grade students to Ramblewild due to the generous scholarship from Fiona Forward. Below are reflections of the day from a sample of my students. All thirty eight had similar experiences about their time at Ramblewild. I cannot thank Fiona Forward enough for the important work they do aiding schools to experience the great outdoors in a sustainable manner - the aerial park, the hiking trails, and sugar bush it demonstrates the importance of our environment. I am truly grateful for the work they do and the benefits I see in my students.
BART Public Charter School
“Before I went to Ramblewild, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard from other people about Ramblewild before - and I had heard it was fun, but I didn’t realize how fun and exciting it would really be until I finally got to go there myself. Once we got to Ramblewild I wasn’t really excited until I got to the hub that is when I got pretty excited. After that the rest of the day flew by and before I knew it, I was pushing my limits on the Black Diamond with my friend. I think that the trip was a great bonding experience for not only me, but for the entire class - including teachers!”
“While being at BART for many years, my class has never been to Ramblewild and I really wanted to go. When I heard that Mrs. Calderara said we were going I was so excited, but scared. I have never been there before so I had a bunch of assumptions, like is it safe? Will I die? Will I be able to do it? I thought it would be a good bonding experience for our peers. When we were heading there I felt anxious and didn’t know what to expect.
When we arrived at Ramblewild, I was like ohhh God! However, the person explained what to do, he made sure I was safe and I then felt better. While we started to get on the courses I was amazed that it was actually fun, I knew I was safe and nothing was going to happen to me. I got nervous on the more difficult courses because I had no energy left but I still tried.
Overall, Ramblewild was fun, exciting, and nice bonding experiences. I pushed myself to do more, I was very proud of myself. I tend to put myself down before and I shouldn't do that. I am glad I went.”
“Before Ramblewild I had been to two ariel parks before. I have also been to Ramblewild once before and that was with my mom. Although, in that same year my mom passed away. After she passed away I kind of backed into myself, I became rather shy and not myself.
As this school year has went on, now almost four years after my mom’s death I was seeing myself really become myself once again. When I really saw a large change in myself was Ramblewild. The courses brought back amazing memories as I got to make new ones with all of these wonderful peers. I really got to know my peers throughout that trip and experience.
After Ramblewild I saw myself really starting to be my old self yet I also realized good changes in myself. The trip to Ramblewild connected my with people I knew but didn’t really. It also helped me realized a lot of things within myself. For that I thank everyone involved in making it happen and I would love to make more amazing memories”
Feronia Forests has been a great experience for me! Being out in nature has really changed my view of the earth! The forest has taught a lot of great things and I’m glad that I’ve had a chance to experience this!
Feronia Forward is a unique nonprofit organization unlike any other. If you are one of the 2000+ lucky kids that were touched by its programs since 2014, you would have experienced a wonderful adventure in the beautiful forest of the Berkshires, MA. This could have been your first time in a real forest because you live in the city. Depending on your grade level, you probably learned important science lessons that have helped you to connect the dots from what you have learned in school to real things that you can touch, taste, smell, and now understand much better. You might have followed one of the instructors on a guided walk through the forest and realized how interconnected each living thing is. During your walk through the sugar bush you would have discovered that your favorite maple syrup cannot be made without understanding the tree’s life cycle as well as physics. And after all that, to have the most exciting ride to the top of the mountain where you stand under giant windmills while learning about electricity and sustainability, there is nothing like it anywhere in the country. You were probably so engaged you did not have time to notice there was no cell phone connection in the forest and that you have been completely unplugged from the screens and internet for hours.
Just when you thought that it couldn't get any better, you were invited to try your skills at the Ramblewild aerial adventure park located right there in the forest. You are excited and a little bit scared - aerial obstacle trails that go from tree to tree at various heights and difficulties through a pristine forest. You are outfitted into cool gear, and taken through a quick but thorough Ramblewild boot camp to teach you the basics. You can't wait to put all this newfound learning on the high wires, zip lines, balancing logs, rope ladders, suspended bridges, and other cool elements. You pick the green trail, one of 6 comprehensive trails to test your strength and it was amazing! After finishing each element zipping through the forest you feel great: you are proud to have overcome your fear of heights, and you feel more confident, relaxed and rested, even though you have been moving non-stop!
Wow! What a day! When you get back to school you find yourself creating new goals for yourself based on a day of the Ramblewild experience. You want to get better mentally, physically, and psychologically so you can come back here for another day of amazing adventures. You feel inspired and supported by your teachers and peers because your school participates in the "Conserving Together" program run by Feronia Forward. It offers schools rewards and incentives for class level attendance and participation. You wish you could learn by going on an adventure like that every day!
Ramblewild improves educational leadership and programming because their instructors and professional staff are highly qualified, caring, and experienced in redesigning organizations for maximum positive outcomes. They helped us solidify our staff relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Ramblewild staff stay connected with us as we developed the next next phases of our school. They reached out to support us and offer even more dynamic programming based on our unique needs and challenges. Our relationship with Ramblewild is crucial to our future development and expansion of staff, students, and programming. I highly recommend this organization to every school and company for unbeatable , dynamic professional development that will improve the work you are doing and the outcomes you are currently seeing.
Jodi Drury, Ed.S.
Principal and Director of North Berkshire Academy
To residents of Berkshire County and beyond: there is a gem in the forest - just off the beaten path - that should be discovered by all! Ramblewild is so much more than an adventure park. An atmosphere of welcome and generosity underlies all that Paolo, Valentina, Luke, and the incredible staff bring to their public programs, making every adventure in this breathakingly beautiful setting a profound opportunity for learning and personal growth.
I have been fortunate to participate in the aerial ropes course, shinrin-yoku, and a day of team-building led by Luke Bloom. Each of these programs reinforced for me just how vital it is that we as educators step away from routine and make time to see, think, and feel from new perspectives. For the team-building day that we arranged with Luke, we had a group of college students, staff, and faculty from two local colleges working together to solve physical challenges designed to grow over the course of the day in complexity. It was a valuable way to begin our summer work, outside of our usual environs, and helped us set a course for building trust among team members. Aspects of what we learned during the Ramblewild experience came into play at various points during the summer and served as a touchstone for nurturing collaboration within a diverse group. We can't thank the Ramblewild staff enough for sharing their expertise and passion for harnessing the power of team work!
The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation annually hosts a group of approximately 20 students from Pro-Vision School in Houston, Texas. The students visit New England to learn about America’s thirtieth president, but also to see a different part of the country. Each year their favorite part of the experience is the chance to hike and be in nature.
This year the Coolidge Foundation was very pleased to bring the students to Ramblewild. In previous years the students had hiked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and loved that experience. But Ramblewild was an even bigger hit. Many of the students had very limited experience in nature and they were blown away by the forest. The students loved the aerial challenge course. They talked about it the rest of the trip and told me they hope we will take them back again next year.
We are very appreciative of Feronia Forward which provided a grant to help make our visit to Ramblewild possible. With a limited budget that had to be stretched across many activities during our five-day program with Pro-Vision, the generosity of Feronia Forward made the difference in enabling us to come to Ramblewild.
The end of our visit at Ramblewild had a special treat. Paolo and Valentina Cugnasca made time out of their busy schedules to come and speak to our students. They explained the value of conservation and described the many ways that a forest such as Feronia provides value. The students especially enjoyed learning about how water flows through a tree and all that is involved in producing a gallon of maple syrup. Mr. Cugnasca brought a few props along, including an old maple tap and a device that can be used to estimate the number of trees in a forest.
Our visit to Ramblewild was filled with adventure, fun, and much learning. We are grateful to Feronia Forward and everyone at Ramblewild for helping us provide such a fantastic experience to the students of Pro-Vision School. We hope to come back next year!
Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation
To Paolo, Luke, Sarah and Ramblewild staff,
What a summer! I have been working with special needs students for 30 years and this collaboration with Ramblewild this summer has been one of the greatest experiences I've had yet. The professionalism offered by the entire staff towards my camp from the Boy's and Girl's Club of the Berkshires was second to none. Starting with Berkshire County Day on June 3rd and ending on August 9th offered such great exposure to a large group that will never be forgotten. The mission statement of offering Tree to Tree adventure to a population of campers of all abilities is something that should be shared through out the country. I look forward to continuing this great relationship with Luke and the gang. It truly has been a win-win situation all the way around.
Life Skills Director
Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires
“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole.
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Nature-Deficit Disorder and Device Addiction are prevalent in our modern society. The negative psychological and physiological effects of these syndromes need to be tackled in order to give our children the chance to have healthy, balanced, and productive lives.
Feronia Forward is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for children to connect with nature and discover their inner strengths.
As an educator in a public school for the past three decades, I witnessed the reduction of outdoor activities that afforded unhindered learning for my students. I watched with dismay as educational resources were diverted from educational field trips to fund programs to teach and assess mandated standards.
Because I always searched for ways to give my students the incomparable experiences of field trips, I was thrilled when my class received a scholarship from Feronia Forest. The generous scholarship allowed my class two outstanding trips.
After communicating with Luke Bloom, I spent a morning with him on the property reconnoitering the trips that incorporated essential parts of the science, social studies, math and ELA curriculums.
On our first trip, my class hiked with Luke on Sheep’s Heaven Mountain and rode a wagon around the wind turbines. Luke interacted with my students and imparted knowledge about flora, fauna, Silva culture, wind power, and sustainability. As we enjoyed our picnic lunch under the 220 feet tall wind turbines, I knew the impact of this experience on my students would be long lasting.
After that, students readily made connections between the trip and the classroom lessons. For instance, the concept of energy transformation from wind energy, to mechanical energy, to electrical energy was easy to grasp because students saw the wind turning the turbine blades used to power a generator. Even the playground became a more exciting place when students discovered lichens- something they learned about on the hike- growing on rocks.
A month later after three days of testing, my class returned to Ramblewild. The amazing aerial park was the focus of this trip. The skilled staff patiently guided hesitant students through the courses and deftly challenged the more competent students. As they completed different courses, my students’ self-confidence grew as well as their ability to work cooperatively. Once again, the scholarship provided life-changing experiences for my students.
I retired last June and decided to support Feronia Forward’s mission by volunteering my time and energy. I am using my experience to expand the scope of educational activities on the property.
So far, I’ve guided teachers in designing lessons that integrate curriculum with the natural resources of the property. Out of many applicants, four teachers received scholarships. I accompanied several classes on their trips and shared in the excitement of the students and teachers as they made connections with the natural environment. (See photos.)
On June 4, 2017, I guided hikes during the first “Special Needs Day.” The strength and courage of the participants and their supporters was inspirational. Once again, the skills and commitment of Ramblewild staff impressed me.
Later in June, I participated in an intensive training with the Association of Nature Forest Therapy. A scholarship funded my training. I am now a practicum guide and will be leading “Shinrin Yoku” or “Forest Bathing” hikes. For more information:
In closing, Feronia Forward is making a difference and I hope that you will consider supporting their mission.
If you want to contact me, my email is:
I'm employed by the Commonwealth of MA as a Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Service Forester. Part of my duties include the management of the DCR Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Forest Certification group-a group comprised of public and private woodland owners throughout the state. Feronia has 850 acres of their forest in Lanesborough enrolled in the group. During my numerous visits to Ramblewild and other parts of the property, I've experienced directly their commitment to sustainable forest management, ecotourism, and environmental education. I've witnessed folks of all ages encouraging themselves and their companions to overcome fears and physical challenges in the aerial adventure park. I've interacted with the enthusiastic and passionate management and staff fully intent on making their visitor's experiences memorable and often life-changing. And I've enjoyed the delicious maple syrup!
I'm a big fan!
Hi my name is Destiny Albino and my first experience working with Feronia Forward started with a project I was working on with Ramblewild, an adventure park in the trees. My first visit to Ramblewild was back in September of 2016. I had previously heard great things about Ramblewild so I was very excited to experience what it would be like on my own. Although I was very excited I was also a tad bit nervous because I have a Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a physical disability which in my case causes my walk to be a little different and my balance to be off. Regardless of my concerns with my disability I knew I wanted to try the course any way. After a great day and being able to complete the course I came up with the idea to start some sort of program for people with disabilities and with the help of Ramblewild and many others that is how Special Needs Inclusion Day came about. It took months of planning and donations to make the day come to life and without Feronia Foward it would not have been made possible. I had the honor of meeting Paolo Cugnasca and he was able to tell me what Feronia Foward is all about. Feronia Foward is an amazing organization and I would love to be able to work with you guys in the near future. I hope that Feronia Foward and all the staff over at Ramblewild realize what they were able to do for me, along with each and every other individual that got to experience Special Needs Inclusion Day. It was truly life changing and something I and many others will never forget. So thanks again Feronia Foward.
The Ramblewild staff provided my first grade class with an experience that could not be duplicated within the walls of a school. They worked with me to brainstorm suggestions of experiences that 6 and 7 year olds could do at the Ramblewild Park before we agreed upon an activity related to the wind turbines.
Ramblewild is special resource in the Berkshires. Beautiful woods surround the towns in the county, but the wind turbines provide the children the amazing opportunity to learn about wind energy and plant the seeds of conservation in the lives of six and seven year olds. The staff at Ramblewild are enthusiastic educators who are able to share their knowledge about the wind, forest, geology at a developmentally appropriate level for young children.
The staff encouraged me to create an educational experience that would use Ramblewild as a living laboratory. I wanted the children to have the opportunity to apply the engineering principal of identifying a problem- brainstorming- building- testing- revision in a natural and motivating environment. In my classroom, the children applied lessons about simple machines to create an invention that moved by the energy from the steady air currents created by fans. They worked hard to build structures out of Tinkertoys that would move in front of the fans’ wind.
Ramblewild was the living laboratory for the children. On the day of the field trip, the children rode in a hay wagon up the mountain tracing the path of electrical lines that transport the energy produced by the wind captured by the wind turbines to the electric stations. They were awestruck by the size of each wind turbine. The children re-assembled the Tinkertoy structures they created at the base of a towering wind turbine. As the staff and I expected, the creations that they made in the classroom did not work well on the top of the mountain ridge due to the variable wind. The Ramblewild staff was supportive and gave the children as much time as they needed to study the wind and revise their Tinkertoy structures to move with the wind. By the end of the field trip, the children developed a basic understanding of the directions of the prevailing wind, how the angle of the wind turbine blades affects the the energy which could be captured from wind and more. The Ramblewild staff help the children understand how to use the wind energy to their advantage. The excitement and motivation that the first graders had as they applied engineering principals as they learned about wind energy was tangible.
One parent wrote to me after the field trip:
He loved Ramblewild! I have a feeling you've imprinted the children for life with this lesson. Inventing machines and the awesome size of windpower.
I am nearing the end of my eighth year as an English teacher at Monument Mountain Regional High School. In July 2014, I served as the lead teacher for the Spartan Launch High School Transition Program. Spartan Launch is a not-for-profit educational and community organization that was largely funded by a 21st Century Leadership Grant. The students in the transition program were recommended by their 8th grade teachers, counselors and the school social worker because they thought the students were in particular risk of a turbulent adjustment to high school. The students presented a range of social and emotional problems. One student in particular, whom I’ll call Evan, had by far the most severe emotional problems. He had recently moved to the area to live with his grandmother after being nearly homeless and suffering years of abuse from his drug-addicted parents. Keeping these students engaged in the weekly workshops was difficult despite the range of activities and enthusiasm of the workshop leaders. I was holding out hope that our week-ending trip to Ramblewild would be the “home run” that the program needed.
Our trip to Ramblewild began with a rousing nature education session. The guide passed out quizzes and involved all of my students in answering the questions based on the different signposts on our walk. The students were genuinely engaged by the lessons because they had the majesty of beautifully curated nature as their classroom instead of a desk and a well-worn textbook.
We were given a very thorough and clearly explained tutorial on the rules and equipment of the adventure park in “ground school” before descending upon the aptly-named Tree to Tree Adventure Park. There was a diverse group of guides at Ramblewild that ranged from recent Monument graduates to middle-aged men and women. Every guide was consummately professional and contagiously enthusiastic and encouraging. The guides fostered a genuine sense of camaraderie among my students that had been missing in the previous three days. I was most impressed with how the guides positively coached my students to face their fears and embrace the thrill of conquering an “element” (section) of their chosen trail. I also experienced the highs and lows of conquering a challenging trail and then subsequently having to be assisted down from an element that was too much for me. The guides always cheered me on and made me feel supported. There was absolutely none of the macho competitive aura that sometimes pervades outdoor recreational facilities. I truly felt the guides wanted my students and me to be our best selves.
The most poignant memory from my trips to Ramblewild was seeing the pure joy on Evan’s face when he ran up to me to tell me he completed an advanced course. It was probably the most fun he had experienced since he was a small child. All of my students thoroughly enjoyed Ramblewild. Ramblewild truly has something for every type of teenager. The virile and physically ambitious teenagers can test their mettle on the advanced trails. There are less demanding trails for students who are more physically limited. There are also gorgeous and serene walking trails for students who are completely averse to putting on the gear and trying out the adventure park. Every student who visits Ramblewild will leave with an enhanced appreciation and knowledge of nature.
Tennyson wrote “Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” Students fortunate enough to spend quality time in Ramblewild will not only find a newer world, but a newer, stronger, more sensitive side of themselves. The staff at Ramblewild is vitally committed to facilitating unforgettable encounters with nature and generating personal transformations. I couldn’t think of a more ideal environment for young people to truly find themselves in the natural world.
As the Executive Director of the Williamstown Youth Center, I had the opportunity to bring children during our summer camp last year to Ramblewild, one of the major hubs coordinated by Feronia Forests. The children, ages 8-12, experienced the Aerial Park, toured the wind turbines, and were provided an overview of the sugarbush. It was an incredible experience for the children. When we returned to the Youth Center, I gathered the children to hear about their experience. Child after child spoke of their initial hesitation to attempt the Aerial Park, and how their perseverance and encouragement from staff allowed them to successfully navigate the Park. What was most encouraging was to hear the children speak about what they learned from their experience. Again, they spoke about how they learned the importance of trying your best and listening carefully to others in order to be successful.
It was a life-changing experience for many of the children. Needless to say, we are visiting Ramblewild on many occasions this summer during camp. In addition to the Aerial Park, we plan to use the nature trails, revisit the wind turbines, and experience the team-building activities.
I have had the privilege to discuss Ramblewild with its directors and am convinced that it provides unique opportunities for children and young adults. It is truly a remarkable place.