Week in the Woods


2018 Session:  June 23 – 27

Week in the Woods, a program of The Folk School, is an opportunity to leave our everyday routines behind and gather in the remote boreal forest, learning and creating in a multi-generational community. It is a rare chance to live and study with an amazing cast of instructors, including woodworkers, craftspeople, artisans, and naturalists.

The week is a dialogue with nature, a unique experience of learning, creating, reflecting, and building community. Participants will be exposed to new ways of seeing and appreciating the forest, experiencing the connection between natural history and the creative process. During this transformational week individuals of all ages, from children to octogenarians, come together to live and learn in the best of all classrooms, the woods.

For program details and registration information, please click on the tabs above.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions:

John Manthei, WITW Director and Founder





Week in the Woods (WITW) participants will stay in the forest for five days and four nights, allowing the energy of our everyday, technology-filled lives to be replaced by the more peaceful energy of the woods. Through the process of creating objects from forest treasures, students will explore old and new techniques and hand tools from many cultures. As part of this process participants will go on frequent guided excursions, learning to recognize the unique characteristics of forest types, flora and fauna of the boreal landscape, and the influences of history on forest dynamics.  


Participant Categories

Program Description


  • Knife handling and carving *
  • Tool care and sharpening *
  • Observation
  • Communication through language and drawing
  • How to make things with simple tools
  • All manner of wilderness skills
  • How to be comfortable in the woods


  • Carving Projects
  • Bark Projects
  • Weaving
  • Woodworking Projects
  • Language Arts
  • Toys, Games and More
  • Natural History
  • Art
  • Wilderness Skills


  • Bark
  • Roots
  • Trees, Twigs and Branches
  • Unique or unusual tree growth forms
  • Plant fiber
  • Naturally occurring coloring agents
  • Conks, bracket fungus, lichens and mushrooms
  • Bones and antler
  • Skins, hair and feathers
  • Air and water
  • Sound, Colors, Smells, Textures and Movement

* For the most part learners will have the option to pick and choose from the daily schedule of projects. However, tool care and sharpening, as well as certain carving techniques, will be required for everyone.


Check out the Week in the Woods Bulletin Board for yearly program highlights and more!


Location and Conditions

The location for Week in the Woods is a tranquil spot in the heart of the Tanana Valley State Forest near Fairbanks, Alaska. The site is 8.6 miles down a dirt logging road with lots of turns and hills, but is accessible with a normal car. The actual work and camping area is located about 300 yards off the road on the uphill side. It is an upland, mature stand of mixed birch, spruce, and aspen with a moss and shrub forest floor. There is a fire pit area around which everyone sits, cooks, eats and talks. There will be 2 pit toilets nearby and several large work areas that are tarped-over in case of rain.

WITW is a rugged outdoor program. Participants will need to be resourceful, have a desire to work with their hands, be unafraid of getting dirty, and be familiar with basic camping conditions in Interior Alaska.

Everyone will be expected to bring:

  • their own tents and rain tarps (to make a larger awning over the tent entrance – a great help in rainy weather),
  • their own water jug (we provide drinking water),
  • food for five days and four nights and coolers to keep it cool,
  • camp chairs, camp stove, fuel and cook kit (as desired),
  • sleeping bags, pads, personal effects, etc.

Participants should be prepared to keep themselves warm and dry in rainy conditions, as well as stay comfortable with mosquitoes and flies.

We will provide:

  • 2 trash cans that are emptied regularly,
  • drinking water (campers are responsible for their own water jug for for hauling their water from the road as needed),
  • hot water in large kettles on the fire, and,
  • plenty of tarped-over space for cooking and working on projects.

Orientation will commence at 11:00am on the first day of the session and will end by 4:00pm on the last day of the session. Participants are asked to arrive no later than 9:00am on the first morning to set up camp. If at all possible, participants are encouraged to arrive on the afternoon or evening of the day before the session is scheduled to begin. This will allow you to get organized and settled in at your leisure.

Note: The day before the session begins is NOT a class day but simply time to settle in. Instructors and tools will be not be available for projects.

Electronics of any kind will not be allowed except for emergencies.

By the 1st of June registered participants will receive a letter containing a map to the site, parking information, a list of what to bring, and additional details.


Fees Schedule:

  • Adult Learner Registration Fee: $600.00
  • Adult Learner Receiving UAF Credit Fee: $700 (plus fee paid to UAF)
  • Youth/Adult Co-learners Registration Fee: $900.00 (Fee covers one adult and one youth)
  • Additional Youth Co-learner Registration Fee: $250.00
  • Second Co-learning Parent or Partner: $500
  • Red carpet service for out-of-towners (per family or individual): $75

If WITW is something you and your family would love to do but you are having trouble making it work financially, please contact the Director, John Manthei, and we can explore some options.


Tool Purchase:

All adult learners are required to purchase tools unless they already own them from a previous session of WITW. (Please bring tools with you if you already own them.)

  • Hook Knife: $33.00
  • Carving Knife: choose one or both of the following:
    • Sloyd Knife: $24.00
    • Small Straight Knife (recommended for small hands): $18.00
  • Strop: $30.00
  • Cylindrical Hone: $2.00

Each co-learner is required to purchase one hook knife and one carving knife.

Please note: Payment for tools will not be included in your registration fees. Please list the tools you plan to purchase on your registration form and bring payment in the form of cash or check to the first day of WITW.


Out of Town/State Participants:

For those of you traveling from out of town, we offer some options that will make the logistics easier and hopefully save you some money.

First we provide for all your water needs as well as coolers with ice for your perishable food. We will also provide each family unit with camp chairs, camp stove, fuel and cook kit. This means you will only be responsible for your tent, tarp (to make a larger awning over the tent entrance – a great help in rainy weather), sleeping bag and pad, food and personal effects.

For the water, ice, coolers, cook kits, stoves and fuel we are charging $75 per family group (paid to The Folk School).

We also arrange transportation to and from camp that hopefully will save you some rental car expense. The transportation piece will require some coordination on both our parts.

Assumptions we have made:

  • You will be arriving at the airport at least a day or two ahead of time.
  • You will rent a car so you can explore a bit of the Fairbanks area, get to and from your lodging, and shop for food and supplies for the week at camp.
  • The car rental outlet will be very close to the airport.

This is what everyone needs to agree on, as we will only be offering one of the following options:

  • Do you want to go out to camp at 4:00 Friday afternoon (June 22) giving you time to set up camp and settle in before the program officially starts the following morning?
  • Or would you rather head out at 8:00 Saturday morning (June 23) and be ready for the orientation meeting at 11:00? This option makes setting up your camp and settling in a bit more hectic but certainly can be done.

The return trip will leave camp at 4:00 PM Wednesday, June 27 and drop you off at the same car rental location, lodging, or other agreed-on site.

This is what we propose:
On either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, whichever the group decides, we will pick you up at one or two central locations close to the car rental return. Shortly before pick-up time you will have returned your car and have all you gear and food with you. If you have belongings you would not like to take out to camp, we can store them for you.

The van service costs about $600 and can carry 12 people. This cost will be divided by the number of people choosing to use the van. You will pay the driver directly for the van service.

We would like to have transportation decisions made by Wednesday, June 6, so that we can see where the majority is headed.


Don’t hesitate to contact Program Director John Manthei with questions at john@thefolkschoolfairbanks.org.


A typical day at Week in the Woods begins with a Blackboard Meeting where the day’s activities are previewed and classes are developed according to student interest. Following a full day of classes, nature walks and guest lectures, there are evening activities that include plays, talks and games. Evenings are also a time for students to collaborate, explore, and pursue projects that have been introduced.


General timeline for a typical day:

7:00 – 9:00am:  Breakfast and chores
9:00am:  Blackboard meeting
9:00 – 12:00pm:  Guided activities
12:00 – 1:00pm:  Lunch
1:00 – 5:30pm:  Guided activities
5:30 – 7:00pm:  Supper
7:00 – 9:00pm:  Presentations, guest speakers, projects, games
9:00pm:  Done for the day!


Click on the links below to see snapshots of a day at Week in the Woods for Mac, Addie, Tom and Van:

A Day in the Life of Mac

A Day in the Life of Addie

A Day in the Life of Tom

A Day in the Life of Van


Photo of Sara Hensel
Sara Hensel

Sara recently moved to Fairbanks from Portland, Oregon. Though she plans to concentrate on ceramics in the BFA program at UAF, her passions span across most media. She can usually be found prototyping design concepts for willow baskets, playing guitar, or doodling on any scrap of paper that she comes across.

Photo of Toni Kaufman
Toni Kaufman

Toni’s love of making pots spans many years and a variety of different disciplines. She has taught pottery in Fairbanks (at the University of Alaska and her studio) and has shown her work throughout the community. The process of working with clay has been a journey of discovery, frustration and delight which she loves sharing with others.

Photo of John Manthei
John Manthei

John is a carpenter, furniture-maker, and teacher. John has been working with wood since he was a youngster. He teaches through UAF and also offers private classes.

“After all these years I still love to build ‘forts’. I now realize everything I do with my hands is simply an extension of that first love.”

Photo of Carolyn Parker
Carolyn Parker

Carolyn has done botanical surveys throughout Alaska and in other far northern landscapes for over 30 years. The rest of the time she stays based at the University of Alaska Museum while gardening, hiking and ski-joring in the boreal forest around Fairbanks.

Photo of Marianne Stolz
Marianne Stolz

Marianne was born and raised in Germany where she completed a wood carving apprenticeship. Her passion for mountains and ice climbing brought her to Alaska in 1985. She now works as a professional wood carver, ice carver and artist.

The registration due date is June 19, 2018 at 5PM.

Fees Schedule

Adult Learner Registration Fee: $600.00
Adult Learner Receiving UAF Credit Fee: $700 (plus fee paid to UAF)
Youth/Adult Co-learners Registration Fee: $900 (Fee covers one adult and one youth)
Additional Youth Co-learner Registration Fee: $250
Second Co-learning Parent or Partner: $500
Red carpet service for out-of-towners: $75 (per family or individual)

If WITW is something you and your family would love to do but you are having trouble making it work financially, please contact the Director, John Manthei, and we can explore some options. 






You also have the option of filling out a paper Registration Form:

You can download the appropriate form below and mail it with a check to: Week in the Woods, c/o The Folk School, P.O. Box 83572, Fairbanks, AK 99708.


Cancellation Policy

Cancellation more than 30 days prior to the start of the program: Refund will be full amount paid less a $25 administrative fee. Cancellation less than 30 days prior: Refund will be 1/2 the registration fee and all fees paid for tools. If you can find someone to take your place the full amount less $25 will be refunded.    


Over the past few years, several families from Seattle have had the trip of a lifetime attending our unique program!

We would like to continue welcoming Pacific Northwest families to Week in the Woods and are offering some options that will make logistics easier and hopefully save you some money.

Please check out the IMPORTANT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS below, browse the Week in the Woods  program pages, check out the video, and generally familiarize yourself with the program. Then choose our Alaskan learning adventure this spring as a special treat for you and your loved ones.   

Don’t hesitate to contact Program Director John Manthei with any questions at john@thefolkschoolfairbanks.org. We are very happy to help you in any way we can.


Week in the Woods, a program of The Folk School, is an opportunity to leave our everyday routines behind and gather during the days of the summer solstice in the remote boreal forest outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, learning and creating in a multi-generational community. Participants stay in the forest for five days and four nights, studying with an inspiring cast of instructors, including woodworkers, craftspeople, artisans, and naturalists.





As long as you’re over 18, we welcome solo attendees.



We love having kids from 6-18 at Week in the Woods, but all children who register must have an adult co-learner also registered and present for the week. Adult co-learners are expected to care for and learn alongside the kids they register with. See the Week in the Woods Program Details tab for details and costs.



Most out-of-state participants will use Alaska Airlines to fly from Seattle to Fairbanks. The direct flights are only about 3-½ hours. Flights stopping in Anchorage are also fine, and may be less expensive, but will take a bit longer. Several common brands of rental cars are available at the Fairbanks International Airport by advance reservation.  



For a modest fee of $75, we can provide each family unit from out of state with ice and coolers for your perishable food, water, camp chairs, a camp stove, fuel and a cook kit. We hope this makes your packing and shopping much easier! You’ll be responsible for your own tent and tarp (The tarp is used to make a larger awning over your tent – a great help in rainy weather), sleeping bags and pads, food, clothing, and personal effects.



  • SURE! Arrive at Fairbanks International Airport at least a day or two ahead of time.

  • Rent a car at the airport, so you can explore a bit of the Fairbanks area, get to and from your initial lodging, and shop for food and supplies for the days in the woods. The local Fred Meyer near the airport is huge, and has a full organic food section, as well as other last minute camping supplies if necessary.

  • To save money, return your rental car and get picked up by the van service we’ve organized to get from Fairbanks out to the Week in the Woods site. The van is an additional cost, but having your rental car sit unused for 5 days at the site will be much more expensive, and most rental cars are not allowed to be used on the small unpaved forest road.

  • Arrive by van at the site. Be greeted by cheerful staff and other participants who will help carry your gear a few hundred yards into the forest and assist you in choosing a spot, setting up your tent and absorbing the charms of the boreal forest.

  • Note that it never gets dark in central Alaska near the solstice, and that 5 magical days of craft and learning and storytelling and sharing and camping and sleeping create a soulful magic that melts the time away.

  • Be shocked at the arrival of Wednesday afternoon, signalling that you’ll actually have to return to normal life.

  • Share your appreciations, say your goodbyes, pack your gear and your new forest treasures, and meet the van for the ride back to town.

  • Get  dropped off at the airport in Fairbanks. If you’re in a rush, fly straight home….

    • OR: Get another rental car at the airport, and spend a night or two in and around Fairbanks.

    • OR: Extend your trip with any number of Alaskan adventures, such as a visit to Denali National Park, two hours away by road and one of the most spectacular natural preserves in the world.


Again, please don’t hesitate to contact Program Director John Manthei with any questions at john@thefolkschoolfairbanks.org.