F.O.R.E.S.T. Program

Fostering Outdoor Recreation, Education, Sustainability, and Teamwork

About The Program

The FOREST program works to ensure members from underrepresented communities have access to nature. As our mission states, we aim to create an enriching and immersive outdoor experience for everyone, and the FOREST program is doing just that.

Each FOREST session takes place over a minimum of two nights. The program provides everything participants need to have a memorable and meaningful experience in the outdoors, including: transportation to and from our huts (or the nearest trailhead leading to a hut); meals and snacks throughout the duration of each session; chaperones and a field naturalist to facilitate outdoor educational and team-building activities; proper clothing/gear depending on outdoor activities planned; and free hut access for at least two nights. Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and mountain biking are just some of the activities we offer participants – completely free of charge.

Early Success

The FOREST program’s first session took place in February 2020, just before the pandemic shut down everything. With support from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Huts Association partnered with Addison Central Teens and the Catamount Trail Association to outfit youth participants with food and gear for a two-night stay at the Chittenden Brook Hut filled with learning primitive backcountry survival skills such as fire starting, tree and plant identification (yes, it’s possible in the winter, though harder!), shelter building, and a brief intro to basic carving practices. It is through these partnerships that we are able to offer the most comprehensive and impactful experience for kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore Vermont’s backcountry.

Beyond the Pandemic

We are eager to resume programming in 2022 with even more opportunities across our hut network. Our focus will continue to bring underserved youth into the outdoors, with additional partnerships to help us create greater impact as we add new huts to the network.

If you’d like to see this program serve as many individuals as possible, please consider donating to the FOREST program by clicking the button below.