Reclaiming Nature Connection:
A Workshop to Learn the Art of Guiding Stories

East Coast Outdoor Conference for Early Childhood Educators, Teachers, Counselors, Parents and Mentors

TBD 2025

Earthaven Ecovillage
Near Asheville, NC

Join us at Earthaven, as Storytelling presenters Lia Grippo and Erin Dews take participants on a storytelling journey to develop capacities for using stories as effective teaching tools for nature connection and beyond. Drawing from their experience using stories to enchant, enrich and educate audiences of all ages, they are thrilled to share this gift with others!

Develop storytelling skills to:

  • Teach, rather than preach
  • Bring calm and wonder into a child’s day
  • Creatively resolve problems and shift behavior
  • Increase children’s empathy, moral fortitude, and emotional intelligence
  • Develop a child’s attention, memory, imagination, self discipline, and literacy skills

Take steps towards reclaiming your ancestral inheritance by learning how and why we humans learn through stories, and by shaping and telling stories to guide children.

This annual conference is a program of The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers, co-sponsored by SOIL. 

Begin your weekend on Friday evening with a storytelling concert with conference favorite, Doug Elliott.

A drawing of a story about animals

The RNC instructors brought evidenced-based information, personal stories and a wealth of experience. The content felt relevant to both the brand-new forest kindergarten teacher, at the same time met the needs of an experienced facilitator.


About the Conference

Reclaiming Nature Connection is an annual outdoor conference based on forest schools, wilderness awareness, and early childhood education. The conference is designed for beginners and experienced educators alike, as well as therapists, administrators, homeschool families, camp counselors, grandparents, and parents who have an interest in developmentally appropriate nature mentoring for children. The conference was formerly called “Reaching Nature Connection.”

Reclaiming Nature Connection invites you to join in an exciting weekend of hands-on, research-based, and anecdotal learning. As always, the conference will be infused with songs, games, stories, and deeper nature connection.

Reclaiming Nature Connection provides an opportunity to set your watch aside and allow the leaders of the conference to hold time for you. The rhythm of each day is designed to move between active and contemplative learning, with a thematic thread running throughout. We will flow between lecture and hands-on components, weaving together our learning through a variety of approaches, with each new component building on the next.


Woman with an handmade button

Academy of Forest Kindergarten Directors

Blowing on a fire


Friday, May 31 (Optional Add-on)
4:00-6:00 pm Conference Check-in
6:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm An evening of stories and songs with Doug Elliott

Saturday, June 1
8:00 am Breakfast
8:00–8:45 am Conference check-in. Please arrive by 8:45 am.
9:00am–5:00 pm Conference begins promptly at 9:00 am (break for lunch)
6:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm An evening of connection and peer-mentorship (optional)

Sunday, June 2
8:00am Breakfast
9:00 am – 4:00 pm Conference begins promptly at 9:00 am (break for lunch)

The Reclaiming Nature Connection Conference at Earthaven was a soul-nourishing experience. I have been a nature and play-based early childhood teacher for 20 years and I left this gathering full of inspiration, new questions about my work, a deeper understanding of what can inform it and experiences of thrill, joy, and community. I will be looking for more opportunities to engage in these trainings.


Kindergarten teachers being birds


Tuition Sliding Scale: TBD
Tuition includes instruction, food (5 meals), and materials. Accommodations and transportation are available for an additional cost.

Current ECE Students
If you are a current ECE Student, please email us for a coupon code to use at checkout, at [email protected].

Note: Registration is closed for 2024.

Sliding Scale Tuition

Because some people have more financial means than others, we have created a sliding scale fee system to accommodate a range of economic realities. The high-end of the scale reflects the value we believe the program holds, and the low-end offers a more accessible entry point.

By choosing a higher price point, you are helping make the program more accessible to others for whom the low-end may be cost-prohibitive. Please consider your needs and resources to determine what might be a stretch, but not a strain.


We offer partial scholarships.

A 30% discount on tuition is available to participants for:

  • New organizations and programs in operation for 5 or fewer years
  • Non-profits
  • Publicly funded agencies
  • Groups of two or more people from the same school or organization who attend together

To black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) with financial needs who otherwise would not be able to afford to attend we offer 50% of the middle of the sliding scale. We understand that BIPOC experience more financial and institutional barriers to participation, and this is one way we are able to create more access.

If you are eligible for one of our scholarships, please email us for a coupon code to use at checkout, at [email protected].

Engaging, affirming, and inspiring! This conference was just what I needed to get reinvigorated about the importance of play and connecting to nature.




Several accommodation options are available at Earthaven Ecovillage and in the surrounding area.

Cost for 1 person: 2 nights $55

Campground cabin shared lodging
Cost for 1 person: 2 nights $70

Shared indoor lodging
Cost for 1 person: 2 nights $115

Private indoor lodging
Cost for 1 person: 2 nights $160
Cost for 2 people (shared bed): 2 nights $240

Off-site options
Various options in Bat Cave, Black Mountain, and Asheville.

Sleeping bags and pads are available for rental for $15/set for adults and children. Cleaning supplies to clean mats are available before and/or after use. SOIL launders the sleeping bags once a year.

Read More About Accommodations


Examples of food served at School of Integrated Living programs

Delicious, omnivorous meals are prepared by talented culinary artists from the Earthaven community. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available. Snacks and beverages (tea, coffee) are provided. Participants are invited to help with meal clean-up. Many hands make light work.

As much food as possible is sourced from Earthaven and its surrounding farms and gardens, with some ingredients sourced from local grocery stores. Our meals are created with seasonal, local, fresh, wildcrafted, humanely-raised, and organic ingredients.

***If you have dietary needs beyond the ones listed here, please be prepared to bring supplemental food to support your nourishment and well-being. Our kitchen cannot accommodate all diets.

Program Specific Info

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included, Saturday breakfast through Sunday lunch.

    Cancellation & Refunds

    If you cancel your registration, you may:

    • Donate your tuition to support our continued work
    • Request a refund per our policy:
      • 90% refund for cancellations prior to 30 days before the start of the program
      • 50% refund for cancellations prior to 10 days before the start of the program

    If SOIL cancels this program for any reason whatsoever, you would receive a 100% refund.

    Contact us at [email protected] with registration questions.

    Crowdfunding & Fundraising

    Check out our Crowdfunding & Fundraising page for creative ways to engage your community and launch a "Community Supported Education" campaign. This approach can help support your investment in yourself, your community, the planet, and future generations.


    This program takes place at Earthaven Ecovillage. This permaculture-based community offers a unique living classroom where participants will engage with the natural world, eco-infrastructure, and the intimate experience of rural community living.

    What to Expect at Earthaven

    About the Facilitation Team

    Lia Grippo

    Lia Grippo


    Lia is a storyteller, naturalist, herbalist, parent educator, mentor, and education consultant. Using the arts of storytelling, song, poetry, movement, and play, she is dedicated to helping children and families develop their powers of imagination, and through these powers, discover their relationship with all of life. Lia is a co-founder and co-director of the Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers, which offers formal training for forest kindergarten teachers, and the founder and director of Wild Roots Forest School, a preschool and kindergarten roofed by the sky and carpeted with the living woodland floor.

    Erin Boehme

    Erin Dews

    Reclaiming Nature Connection Faculty

    Erin grew up freely exploring the pastures, creeks, and high deserts of California's Eastern Sierra mountains. Erin is a co-founder of the annual Reclaiming Nature Connection Conference and a co-founder of The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers. She is an artist and designer that seeks to fuel the creative spirit in herself and others everyday.

    Click for Prior Year Themes

    2024 – The Art of Guiding Stories. A storytelling journey to develop capacities for using stories as effective teaching tools for nature connection and beyond.

    2023 – Fields of Play. An exciting weekend of hands-on, research-based, and anecdotal learning that will be infused with songs, games, stories, and deeper nature connection.

    2022 – not held.

    2021 – Singing Snails and Rainbow Tails. Be immersed in timeless crafting, joyful singing, and the freedom of play all in the spirit of the young child.

    2020 – not held. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled in 2020.

    2019 – Storytelling. Take a storytelling journey to develop capacities for using stories as effective teaching tools for nature connection & beyond.

    2018 – Fire, Knives, Sticks, and Bones. Gain educational tools, songs, games, and much more while learning the importance of risk to healthy childhood development of confidence, competence, and self-regulation.

    2017 – The Primacy of Play. Understand the role of healthy play in a young child’s developing relationship to nature and celebration of the genius of children’s natural play!

    2016 – Guiding the Young Child: Creative Discipline. Hone your ability to resolve problems and shift behavior with creative discipline as well as increase children’s empathy, moral fortitude, and emotional intelligence.


    Complete the registration form once per participant. It takes 5-10 minutes, and you will complete your enrollment with a credit card authorization.

    After your enrollment is processed, you will receive several confirmations…

    1. An automatic confirmation of receiving your registration form
    2. A payment confirmation from our card processor
    3. Confirmation that your registration has been processed

    Note: Registration is closed for 2024.