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

Fostering Outdoor Recreation, Education, Sustainability, and Teamwork

About The Program

Fostering outdoor recreation, education, sustainability, and teamwork, the FOREST Program aims to get more people outside more often. As our mission states, we aim to create an enriching and immersive outdoor experience for everyone, and FOREST is doing just that.

VHA partners with other nonprofits, schools, and communities to actively invite underserved youth and other historically marginalized communities onto the trails and into our huts entirely free of charge. We provide transportation, gear, and food along with an outdoor educator and curriculum tailored to suit the participants. The program aims to introduce students and those who have been previously excluded to outdoor recreation in a safe and welcoming way, encouraging lifelong participation and stewardship of their natural environment. 

Partners Make it Possible

The FOREST program’s first session took place in February 2020, just before the pandemic shut down everything. Since reopening in 2022, we’ve hosted more than a half dozen retreats to students ages 11-18. We have partnered with after school centers, school districts, and other nonprofits to provide retreats filled with learning primitive backcountry survival skills such as fire starting, tree and plant identification, shelter building, and a brief intro to basic carving practices. With help from Outdoor Gear Exchange, Gordini Gloves, and the Catamount Trail Association, we’ve been able to provide participants with all the gear they need for a good time (and to stay safe!). 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 to connect with new nonprofit partners throughout the state to evolve the program, offering retreats and varied experiences to other communities who otherwise might not feel safe or welcome in the outdoors. This program will continue to grow expontnially as new huts are built throughout the state.

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.