Growing leaders for a healthy future.
Sassafras acknowledges Aquinnah Wampanoag Territory and its People.
Sassafras is an indigenous Wampanoag nonprofit on Noëpe (Martha's Vineyard) founded by David Two Arrows and Saskia Vanderhoop in 2003. Our outdoor youth programs offer experiences that transform and build confidence, perseverance, and vitality. Our goal is to grow connected leaders, to build equitable and regenerative community for a healthier future, that integrates indigenous values of living in balance with our earth. Sassafras offers year-round programs for youth, teens, adults, internships, programs for schools/educational organizations, and consulting.
Sassafras Earth Education offers programs, events and services that;
reconnect youth and adults to the earth through ancient mentoring practices;
educate schools, organizations and the general public on a truthful representation and increased awareness of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island;
offer consultation on cultural competency for organizations on and off island, and;
develop LandCulture – an indigenous permaculture project that restores the land.
Programs for all
Our outdoor curriculum of nature, earth and ancestral skills, helps youth develop tangible outdoor skills, through authentic life lessons. Youth learn about indigenous and natural history, local island environments, the importance of living in balance with the earth and with each other in respect. We are big on social justice and provide youth with a place to hear truth, and to express themselves in safe ways that encourage building truly equitable community. Sassafras is an unplugged environment by choice, we believe that providing a screen-free space is important for the development of wholesome young people.
Our Nature Connection Mentoring approach is derived from traditional indigenous practices, it offers children bite-size edges to slowly expand their comfort zone, increase their awareness and hones all their senses.
Youth work together in small groups according to age, and while we also create community across ages. Having fun and following individual passions are high on our list, it helps youth to be comfortable in the woods and with themselves.
Days are filled with nature-centered games and activities that kids love to do: exploring woods and streams, build our own campsites, making fires, building forts and fairy houses, move through the forest like wild animals, listen for bird language, whittle and craft, ID plants and our favorite edibles, and our all-time favorite “JTC”. During hot days we often spend a day at the water’s edge. We start and end every day in circles that include land acknowledgements, gratitude, conversation, stories and music.