Welcome to The Folk School of Fairbanks

Week in the Woods

Program Details


Week in the Woods 2016 crew


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

Carving a bowl

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.

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

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 (unless you pay by check). 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 are offering some options that will make the logistics easier and hopefully save you some money. First we will be providing 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.

This year we are arranging 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.

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

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.

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