Families Enjoy the Forest, Learn New Skills During Outdoor Family Weekend

A group of children stands around an outdoor camp fire while an adult stirs coals in a large pot.
Campfire cooking with wild edibles. Photo credit: Allison Smith

A great weekend was had by all who attended the 24th annual Outdoor Family Weekend (OFW) event hosted by UVM Extension’s 4-H program, in partnership with the Vermont Departments of Fish and Wildlife (VFW), and Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR). This family-friendly event is designed to cultivate connections with the outdoors through camping and the acquisition of new skills.

People are in a forested area, with a man standing on a log teaching a girl how to use ropes.

Seventy families from across Vermont participated with others joining from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and as far as Maryland. The weekend was made successful by 35 volunteer instructors who taught a range of topics from indigenous and nature-based crafts, arboriculture, canoeing, wildlife and tree identification hikes, archery, firecraft, campfire cooking, and many other topics. While many families return from year to year to continue to hone their skills and enjoy the forest with friends, 25 families joined the event for the first time!

Families participating in an family outdoor weekend are relaxing on a lakefront beach.

In addition to workshops, there were also several special programs for all to enjoy, including:

  • “Making Tea with Trees,” led by Forest, Parks, and Recreation Interpreter Nick White.
  • Evening programming under the full harvest moon called Nidba Nadali (A Friends Gathering) with Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, St. Francis/Sokoki Tribe Citizen Brenda Gagne, and Vermont Storyteller Virginia Holiman.

Outdoor Family Weekend is held at Stillwater and Big Deer State Parks which are situated in the lovely and expansive 28,000 acre Groton State Forest. OFW will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the weekend of September 8-10, 2023. Stay tuned for more details announced next spring on the website.

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