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Thoreau College


Rooted in the rugged Driftless Region of Wisconsin, Thoreau College offers programs for young adults that challenge and cultivate the whole human being. Through immersive gap semesters and extended hands-on internships in sustainable agriculture, Waldorf education, homesteading skills, and more, Thoreau College seeks to enliven thinking, feeling, and doing in the context of natural beauty, vibrant community, and a shared quest for meaning and purpose. We are inspired by Deep Springs College, Waldorf education, and Henry David Thoreau and we strive to make our programs humanly scaled and financially accessible for all.



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Yes, I recommend this program

What I value most about this program is the attention to growth of the whole human spirit, head heart and hands. Unlike other educational experiences, this program facilitated and valued inner development and community building while we studied literature and a broad range of physical and artistic skills. This program is intensive but incorporates lots of time for reflection on what we're learning, about the natural world and ourselves. Every month we embarked on a 24 hour solo expedition in the beautiful woods of the driftless region, often with prompts for reflection. Those experiences were difficult at times, being alone with your thoughts can bring up issues or experiences you haven't worked through in your life that you may not have known you were avoiding, I would describe the solos as emotional, grounding, and empowering. This program was balanced between intensive educational experiences and time to integrate them.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Dive deep into your experiences with an open mind and heart, this program is for you to ground yourself, to learn and grow in a wonderful thoughtful community. I am so thankful I participated in this program after graduating high school, what I learned about communication, my self, and this amazing planet, has been priceless for me. What a wonderful to start my life!
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Yes, I recommend this program

As one of many people who wish to live simply, I took this course to learn to live in a way that nurtures all aspects of myself. I learned to live in community, to communicate, be seen and heard. I learned all sorts of practical skills such as roofing, gardening, bread making, fermenting (kimchi, kombucha, immune boosting fire cider, etc) and I had so much fun! I went on a 24 hour solo every month bringing only bare necessities in the quiet solitude of beautiful driftless seasons and landscapes. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

What was your funniest moment?
On my first 24 hour solo in the woods I had built a fire in hopes the smoke would keep the bugs away. And with having a fire you need to be collecting a lot of fire wood, I found a good dry heavy log that I thought would be perfect and burn for a long time. Turns out the log was a home to a large ant colony that as soon as the log was placed in my fire had ants swarming out towards my shelter. I pulled the log off the fire and then spent the next hour digging a trench around my camp and attempting to detour the ants with a stick and guide them away from me. It was scary but also hilarious.
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Yes, I recommend this program

How do you review something that affected you so deeply you’re still catching up, and think you will be for years? How do you review something that is a picture of life? That moves with the seasons and takes you from one task to another in a rhythm that feels natural as breathing?
The last five months of my life have seen me engaging deeply and mindfully with my Humanity in ways I thought I had been in the past, but now don't believe I truly was. Thoreau College allowed me to open myself to possibilities I had written off, and to think about things in ways I never would have dreamed of. The program kept me guessing and filled me with wonder every day as my mind bent over new readings and rejoiced at the things sprouting in our garden. It held me in awe at feeling so small yet mighty on my solos in the woods, and so vast and connected when I looked up the star-bright sky of this small town I've grown to love. Thoreau College made me work deeply and vulnerably with people in ways I rarely have before; to form a strong and abiding community and love for them and with them that I believe will last a lifetime. Thoreau College taught me how to make a home, and how to live in it on every level as the most whole me I know how to be.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
During our wild foods session, we caught and stir-fried grasshoppers. They were a little daunting in their unusuality but actually pretty tasty after I got over my initial squeamishness.


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