Session 1 begins  Monday, Sept. 11 at the Winter Ridge Educational building.  To register please come to the Kaniksu Land Trust office, 1215 Michigan Ave, suite A (the Westside center) during normal business hours M-F 9am-5pm.  Cost per 4-week session is $20, scholarships are available and one can sign up for a maximum of two sessions this fall.

Classes are Mondays and Tuesdays:

3-4 pm 8-12 yr. olds (12 participants max.)

4-5:30 pm 13-18 yr. olds (12 participants max.)



Session 1: Sept 11- Oct. 3 (Arrow making, Baskets, Carved spoons, Coal-burned bowls, friction fire kits)

Session 2: Oct. 9-Oct. 31st (Full)

Session 3: Nov. 6-Nov.28th

To download a registration form, click on the link below:

Wildcrafting After School program7 (1)


Camp Kaniksu is nature-connection based, and will include activities such as:

Hiking, mapping and navigation, learning about local flora and fauna, & how to be safe outdoors.

Participants will also learn:

Outdoor skills, including how to find water, make shelters and fire, basic tracking skills, and how to identify edible and medicinal plants.

Participants will have the opportunity to try crafts such as basket making, hide tanning, making cordage, and sewing bags.

There will also be lots of games and time for fun in the outdoors,

which is crucial for inspiring a love of nature in children.

Camp Kaniksu Camp sessions:
June 26-July 21

Ages: 7-9 Monday and Wednesdays
8:00 am- 12:00 pm
Ages: 10 & 12 Tuesday’s & Thursdays
8:00 am – 12:00 pm

July 31- August 25th

Ages: 7-9 Monday and Wednesdays
8:00 am- 12:00 pm
Ages: 10 & 12 Tuesday’s & Thursdays
8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Camp Kaniksu will take place at the University of Idaho property on North Boyer located in beautiful Sandpoint Idaho.

All campers will receive a Camp Kaniksu t-shirt, mid morning snack (provided by Bonner County Food Bank, lunch and a Camp Kaniksu water bottle

Additional clothing to address weather conditions; coat, rain coat, sweatshirt etc…
Any additional snacks or lunch if your camper has any food allergies.
Bug spray

Camp begins at 8:00 am.
Please make sure your camper arrives at least ten minutes before camp begins

Pick up time is 12:00 pm. Please make sure your child has arrangements to be picked up at 12:00 pm as there will be no post camp supervision available

All camp activity will take place on site

For more information: 208-263-3613

$80 per four week session

Register at Sandpoint Parks and Recreation, Sandpoint Idaho.

Space is limited so register quickly


Right There in the Dirt and the Pine Needles

I read a story written by a teenager, let’s call him John. His life was troubled. In his words, he was “trapped deep within the frightening jungle of the New Jersey suburbs”. Computers were slowly draining him of energy and passion.  “I was numb, and I didn’t care that I was failing high school, and I didn’t care that everything sucked; I was perfectly content with my empty life”.

As a last resort, his parents sent John to a therapeutic boarding school in Montana. It was there that he started to climb trees, play outside, and run on trails – natural things that children have done for generations. It was there that he came out of his numbness. It was there that he blossomed into a young man that is now a senior in college, majoring in music. As John says about his years at the schools and specifically his nature experiences: “I found the inexhaustible spirit that everyone is born with but many lose.  I found it right there in the dirt and dead pine needles, I found it in the top of a partially dead Douglas Fir, and I found it in the view of the mountains out of my classroom window”.
When we ask: why we need to feel the forest under our feet? Why do we need open spaces? And why do we need to get outside and experience them? remember the story of John. Whether it’s the stress of the day-to-day, or a medical complication, a dose of nature goes a long way to prevent or heal what ails us.

“I know y’all will love today’s activity: we’re going to climb trees.”

Dave Kretchzmar is a happy, wonderful man. He lives in a pocket of natural beauty in Idaho’s panhandle. He now works about two days a week, and then spends the rest of his time actively learning about nature. He found his passion, and now has shaped his lifestyle into what he wants it to be. Dave is a wise man. He discovered happiness in simplicity. I “infinitely” admire Dave.

“After you climb into the tree, I want you to perch like an owl and without moving youer eyes, observe everything.”

While Dave was first discovering his desire to teach nature connection to teenagers, I was trapped deep within the frightening jungle of the New Jersey suburbs.

I wasn’t connected to much of anything, except for my office chair and keyboard. Video games and Netflix were slowly draining me of energy and passion. I was numb, and I didn’t care that I was failing high school, and I didn’t care that everything sucked; I was perfectly content with my empty life. My parents and teachers didn’t know what to do, or how I would graduate. And no matter how hardmy dad tried, I never wanted to go kayaking with him, or hiking, or camping, or fishing.

“Remember to always have three points of contact with the tree, and watch for dead limbs. I’ll give a crow call in forty minutes.”

© Christopher L. Wood

I guess I had climbed trees as a kid. My family used to go apple picking every fall, and my mom would bake delicious pies. I used to climb up to pick the apples, with my mom watching nervously. Where’s the fun in that? Climbing an apple tree while your mom watches is like playing on a playground at recess. There’s no letting loose, no giving in to the primal urge to explore. So I never knew how to be free truly, until I met Dave.

“Hey Sam, do you think maybe you should come down now?”

There I was, the frail Jersey boy who hid in his room for all those years, thirty feet up in a double trunked Douglas Fir in the mountains of Montana. I was having the time of my life, and the goofy grin that was plastered to my face may have scared my friends even more as I continued to ascend. I could see them below me, and the further up I went, I could see most of my boarding school’s campus. But I was more drawn to the sight of the distant Cabinet Mountains, their ancient spires looming above constantly. “Oh shit.” This time the dialogue belonged to me. I could hear the branch clattering down through the tree, and its sound was quickly met by the frantic yelling of my friends. Turns out the branch that had very recently belonged to my feet was deader than I thought it was, and that’s how I found myself dangling off of one single branch, forty feet off the ground. One hundred and sixty-five pounds of frightened teenager very suddenly hung from this one branch, and my life was very suddenly put at risk. Clumsily, my feet found their way to a new branch. Maybe I should have listened to Dave more carefully, back in Nature Connection class.

“There he goes again.”

This is a common occurrence. I’m genuinely engaged in conversation, and a magnificent Red Cedar catches my eye.

How can I resist?

Three minutes later, my friends continue walking and tell me they’re not waiting for me any longer. Obviously my scary Douglas Fir experience has not stopped me from climbing my heart out on an almost daily basis. It’s my way of being a kid again. We all have those “childish” urges, somewhere deep down, wherever we shoved them when it became apparent that these things weren’t okay. But sometimes, you just need to climb a tree, and really enjoy it, because it’s fun as hell. That’s what I learned, that I can find happiness in these small things, which brings me back to Dave.

“You all know this game—it’s good ol’ capture the flag.”

Thirty minutes after Dave made the teams, I was submerged in the thick boughs of some young Grand Firs, stalking into the enemy’s territory. A thought came into my mind: this is ridiculous. That was my old self talking, voicing in my mind what many millennials would be saying about capture the flag in the woods. And it is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that I might at any point not enjoy myself playing capture the flag, because capture the flag is a damn fun game, no matter what age you are. Dave probably had a better time than I did, this small, smiling man guarding his team’s flag. I had made it to their base and I was watching him through the trees. He hadn’t seen me yet but was mimicking the actions of a hawk peering through the foliage and searching for prey. At that moment, Dave was quite happy.“Hey Dave, I think there’s someone coming up on you.” His body tensed up, his grin widened, and his gaze swept through the surrounding trees, right into my eyes. Our eyes were locked together for five long seconds before I bolted away, dropping my camouflage and sacrificing stealth for speed. Knowing those woods well, I charged into a stand of young pines and huddled into my favorite hiding spot. I could no longer hear Dave behind me; I was safe for the time being.


Well, I wasn’t actually safe. Dave’s just really good at moving silently in the woods. After he tagged me, we both fell back and laughed as I good-naturedly cursed his stalking skills. Over the months I spent in Dave’s class, I found the inexhaustible spirit that everyone is born with but many lose. I found it right there in the dirt and dead pine needles, I found it in the top of a partially dead Douglas Fir, and I found it in the view of the mountains out of my classroom window. We’re all born with a fiery ardor; no matter how many times the pressures of the world stomp it out, it’s never too late to go and discover that innate enthusiasm.

“And Sam— don’t climb so high this time.”


Bird sitting with Kindergartners


Kindergartners are like earthworms, minnows, bumble bees, puppies…

take your pick…

They are little bundles of infinite energy and curiosity, squiggling and moving, laughing and talking.  Rather than try and fight against this energy, a losing battle in my estimation, I try to harness and channel it.  If I can find one thing to focus their inquisitive natures on and then let that energy run I usually find it works.
The other day at Southside Elementary, I introduced the idea of “bird language” to them, like the Black capped chickadee…listen here:
The concept that birds speak a language and that we can understand them.  I quickly shared the 4 baseline languages: companion calls, juvenile begging, male aggression, and songs.  The final language I introduced was the alarm and told them how birds will often have a sentinel perched on a tree top keeping watch for predators.  Birds will give different alarms for 4-legged predators, birds of prey, and even humans.
Then we trudged out to the playground to do our first bird sit. Two feet of snow still covered the ground, but underneath a ponderosa pine we found a dry spot. Each student had a note card and a pencil and was told to sit and listen to the birds and make a little check mark for each sound they heard.
Almost immediately a train started trundling by and then I realized the highway noise was quite loud as well.  Hearing the birds was like trying to hear someone tell you something at a rock concert.  However, we persevered and stayed put and listened.   I had shown them notation for the 5 different languages but did not expect them to be able to differentiate.  Little did I know.
When we gathered up to share afterwards not only did the students have dozens of check marks but they also had notations showing companion calls, songs and alarms.  They had also recognized a black capped chickadee call, a crow, a turkey and written out other calls phonetically.  They had sat still for fifteen minutes without moving and even with the cacophony of noise had managed to tune in to the birds language.
So well they are often like puppy dogs and bumble bees when their inquisitiveness is released out in nature their energy can shift radically, and their interest can be held for a long time by something as simple as a song sparrow singing.
Now we just have to find a quieter spot