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: 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. 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.

Looking Forward

We are thrilled that programming resumed in 2022 and continues to grow with even more opportunities as new huts are built throughout the state. Our current focus is on underserved students in Vermont, though we continue to partner with nonprofits around the state to expand our offerings to other communities who have historically been excluded from outdoor recreation.

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.

You Can Make A Difference

In order to keep FOREST completely free to participants and their families, VHA covers 100% of associated costs. Each two-day, two-night retreat costs around $2,000. You can sponsor a FOREST weekend as an individual or an organization. Click the button below to do so, or email info@vermonthuts.org to learn more.