Subscribe to our newsletter

BMS Blog

Gearing Up for School

As summer begins to slowly wind down, it's time to start planning for school. Back-to-school shopping isn't just about pencils and notebooks. Blue Mountain kids spend a lot of time outside in all kinds of weather, so having the right gear is important.

We've put together a list of gear that your child will need this Fall and in the coming winter months. This list was compiled by Teacher Jenni, who leads our outdoor programs. You don't have to choose these specific brands, but comparable items are needed.

We've also compiled a short list of recommended pieces to make up your child's lunch gear. The items we chose are reusable and durable to help reduce packaging waste.

If you have outgrown or unused gear, check out our online gear swap.

Rain Gear

Waterproof boots are a must as well as a hooded, waterproof jacket. A one-piece rain suit may be better for younger kids, while older children may prefer rain pants to go with their coat.

Winter Gear

Often overlooked, hand coverings can make or break a kid's day. Insulated, waterproof gloves work well for older children, but younger friends should have mittens to simplify dressing. The Bogs boots we recommend for rain will work well for snow also, and be sure to have snow pants on hand for wintery days.

Lunch Gear

There are many options out there for lunch boxes and reusable containers. Here are some of our favorites. We didn't list any water bottles because there are too many to pick from! Just be sure to pick something durable and try to avoid un-cushioned glass if possible, especially for younger friends.

Coyote Teenagers

Written by BMS Director, Shelly Fox.

We realized right from the beginning of the Coyote Challenge that having a family of active teenagers who also have other homes meant that we would need to adapt some of the ideas about the Summer Coyote Challenge to our family's needs and abilities.

Making room for each other's schedules and important relationships outside our family means that we might not all be present when we try to do something from the Challenge, but we can still share the experience with whoever is there and then tell other family members about it later. There is no 'wrong' or 'right' way to do it; the simple idea of turning our attention to nature and spending time doing things together outside is enough.

What challenges has your family faced while working on the Coyote Challenge, and how did you work through them? Send text and photos to Carol or share on our Facebook Page with the hashtag #bmscoyotesummer. Families who share their experiences with us will be included in a drawing at the end of August for a family fun nature experience!

Crafting Your Words to Live By

Written by BMS Early Learning and Forest Kindergarten Teacher, Jenni Heartway.
The eastern section of our BMS Family Coyote Challenge is an area that represents beginnings. Crafting your family's words to live by is a good way to establish or focus on the values that your family holds dear, and is a nice place to start the Challenge.

To begin this activity, my family and I gathered together to brainstorm our key values. Is it important to have fun,  practice patience, be kind, tell the truth, persist? What values matter most? You can write each idea on a slip of paper and arrange them on the table, or perhaps you have a white board or chalkboard you can all work on. Make sure everyone, even the smallest and the most quiet, have a chance to contribute.
When all your ideas have been shared, go through them and decide which ones are the most important to your family. Find a way to make your words easy to say and remember for your younger family members. The words our youngsters hear become their inner voices and shape who they grow up to be. We want these words to be positive and carry a weight that will help our children thrive.
After crafting your words, put them into action! Give your children an opportunity to witness you practicing patience or being kind. Let them remind you of the words your family has chosen to live by.   
You can also extend this activity into an art project. You could craft a family flag, coat of arms, or sign with your words to live by on it. If you do, please be sure to share your work with us! We would love to see what you come up with! Send photos to Carol or share on our Facebook Page with the hashtag #bmscoyotesummer. Families who share their experiences with us will be included in a drawing at the end of August for a family fun nature experience!
Happy adventuring! 

BMS Coyote Summer Challenge

Inspired by our friends at the Living Earth School, we invite you to join us in the 2018 Blue Mountain School Coyote Family Summer Challenge!

We hope this challenge will inspire many wonderful moments of connection and awe for your family this summer. The natural world is full of wonder, and we want to celebrate it together! Click the poster to download your copy.

Getting Started

A family includes all the important people in a person's life. Consider including grandparents, cousins, and other extended family members as well as close friends. Kids who spend time in more than one family are encouraged to share this Challenge with each one.

Begin the Challenge by reading all the activities on the poster and talking about which ones you'd like to try. We encourage you to pick three activities from each of the quadrants. (Remember, you have all summer!) Next, hang your poster somewhere everyone can see it each day. Then get started!

Be sure to keep a record of your adventures! Some families may choose to create or puchase a journal in which to write and draw their thoughts and experiences. Others may want to glue photographs in an album or make videos together. Or maybe you have a totally different plan. It's up to you!

Share Your Experiences

Please share your family's experiences through social media by marking your posts, tweets, and instagram photos with #bmscoyotesummer. If you don't use social media, you can email photos and text to to have them posted on the school's Facebook Page. You are also welcome to send letters to BMS Coyote Summer, 470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd VA 24091.

Win a Prize!

Families who share their experiences with us over the summer will be included in a drawing at the end of August for a family fun nature experience!

With Gratitude, We Thank...

Practicing gratitude is of special importance to us at BMS. Our emphasis on gratitude is not just about having good manners or being polite; we are believers in gratitude because we know that being grateful is linked to happiness and well being. In addition to the many "Thank Yous" we take the time to share each day at school, we have gratitude circles every Thursday and end every recess by saying, "Thank you for playing!" At BMS, modeling gratitude is serious business.

We give thanks to Living Earth School founders Hub and Kate Knott as well as Erin "Soupy" Campbell, who introduced us to the Coyote Challenge. Their program overlays broad concepts about natural daily and seasonal rhythms with detailed, nature-based activities and practices reflecting these rhythms. Our staff was deeply inspired by our weekend retreat earlier this year with Hub, Katie, and Soupy learning about Coyote Mentoring -- an approach to nature education that builds on the development of mentoring skills in adults. Our time with our Living Earth School mentors helpted to ignite our dedication to incoporating nature into nearly everything we do.

Coyote Mentoring was developed by a collaboration of several people: Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGowan. It is inspired by and grounded in the mentoring tradition of Tom Brown, Jr., and many other elders. To learn more, check out the Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature.

Week 3: Fields, Forest, and Fun

Based on our popular Forest Kindergarten program, this camp welcomes our younger friends into a deeper inquiry of the world they live in.


Fields, Forests, and Fun - July 9-13 (Ages 3 to 7) [Only THREE spots left!]

From the wide-open field to the deep, dark forest, campers will be outside searching for creatures, exploring the mossy nooks and the ferny crannies, and celebrating their nature discoveries in art, stories, and songs. Even if your child joined us for Forest Forts Camp earlier this summer, they will find a whole new world in the BMS woods during this camp.Dress for adventure because we plan on being outdoors rain or shine!

Blue Mountain School Summer Camps are $156 per week for the first child in a family and $141 for each additional child in a family. Camps are from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday. To register, complete and return the registration form.

Shopping on Amazon?

Use our link below and a portion of your sale will go towards the school!

Shop Amazon Now

Shopping at Kroger?

If you shop at Kroger, you can help BMS earn money for its scholarship fund. Our Community Rewards number is QK830.

Link your Kroger Card