What does “Anake” mean?
The choice of the term Anake carries weight in the lineage of our school. Our Co-founder and Grandfather, M. Norman Powell, known to his family, friends and students as Ingwe, brought this term to us. Ingwe was raised on a colonial plantation in Kenya, Africa, where he grew up under the tutelage of an older boy, Ndaka, a member of the local Akamba community. He was eventually initiated into Akamba society, and carried those traditions with him through all his life, bringing them to Jon Young and the Wilderness Awareness School in New Jersey in 1984.
Anake is translated as “protector.” These protectors, which Ingwe referred to as “warriors” are those who have come into their power as individuals, and who have the knowledge and skill to be in genuine service to their communities.
Who is the Anake Outdoor School intended for?
The Anake Outdoor School is an outdoor course intended for people who want to deepen their understanding of the natural world and discover powerful ways to put their connection to it at the center of their life, who are looking for a community of like-minded people to study and grow with, and who are desiring an intensive, immersive educational experience. The design of the course meets the needs of a wide range of students, from folks just out of high school, to college students and recent graduates, to older adults looking for a new direction or career.
How long has the Anake Outdoor School been in existence?
The first official year of the Anake Outdoor School was the 1999-2000 school year, though the program builds on a legacy of advanced students receiving college credit while studying with Wilderness Awareness School instructors.
Why is there an Anake Outdoor School?
The Anake Outdoor School came about to fulfill a longtime vision, held by the founders of Wilderness Awareness School, to provide an opportunity for participants to become highly skilled in all aspects of our curriculum while also guiding them to become natural teachers and leaders. The Anake Outdoor School serves this vision by providing an intensive training course of full-time, full-immersion studies for adult students.
Who are the instructors at the Anake Outdoor School?
With over 4 decades of combined experience teaching outdoor nature skills, the Anake Outdoor School's core instructors facilitate all aspects of the course, teaching, coordinating guests and field trips, and serving as mentors to the student body. Marcus Reynerson, Laura Gunion, and Richie Rivera-Booth serve as the core course instructors, with additional staff specialists sharing their knowledge in specific topics over the course of the year. The Anake Outdoor School also incorporates expert guest instructors that visit the course to offer their unique perspective on special skills and topics.
Where do your students come from?
The Anake Outdoor School attracts students from all around North America and the world. We have graduates from most of the US and Canada, as well as the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, France, Spain, Australia, Czech Republic and more! A number of our international students come for a “gap year” and many of them stay for a second year with our Anake Leadership Program where they acquire even deeper skills and the ability to bring these back to their communities.
What are the backgrounds of the program's students?
Our students have a variety of backgrounds. We have no “typical” Anake Outdoor School student. However, most of our students have taken either Wilderness Awareness School courses or other outdoor/ wilderness classes or have been referred from colleges and universities.
Some of our students are recent high school graduates. Others are participating in the course to complete their college degrees. Still others are college graduates who have been working, but now are changing their focus and the Anake Outdoor School is part of their graduate school experience. We also have “non-traditional” students who have joined the Anake Outdoor School several years or even decades after they graduated high school or college. Other students come from a wildlife biology background. All students have one thing in common though an above average passion for connecting with nature and the outdoors!
Read biographies of our current Anake Outdoor School class!
What have your students gone on to do after Graduating?
Many wonderful things! From setting their own wilderness schools and summer camp programs to working as naturalists and park services, and more!
What's the percentage men/women in the program each year? How many folks who start the program end up finishing?
On average the ratio is about 60% male and 40% female. We strive to have balance in our program and it varies from year to year.
Over the last 5 years, we have an average graduation rate of 92%. For reference, the average completion rate of the first year of traditional college is 67%. The main reasons students don't complete the program are due to financial challenges, illness, a family emergency, or interpersonal reasons. These are good questions to ask any school/program that you are planning to attend.
Curriculum and Academics
What is class like at the Anake Outdoor School?
Class meets ~19 hours a week, Tuesday through Thursday, at Wilderness Awareness School's campus and other nearby locations. One day each week (mostly Wednesdays) will meet from 8am - 3pm, and the other two days will meet from 9am - 3pm. Each day consists of both lecture and extensive hands-on, outdoor experiential activities such as animal tracking exercises, wild edible gathering and preparation, bird language exercises, awareness games, and survival skill projects, to name a few.
The class also takes day trips and several extended field trips during the course of the year. Each Autumn we go on a tracking expedition to the beautiful Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area; in winter we make an extended two-week trip to California to visit Quail Springs Permaculture Farm near Santa Barbara; and during the spring the course goes out on a 3-week, end-of-year rite of passage including a one-week wilderness survival expedition. Outside of class, students work on their Natural History curriculum component of the program that involves experiential field time and academic research.
Is there an academic component to the Anake Outdoor School?
Yes. We do maintain transcripts of quarterly narrative evaluations that include self-evaluations and instructor evaluations. For students desiring it, we can translate these into graded transcripts in 6 course areas, which we do for students enrolled for credit through Western State College.
Also, all students work on their Natural History Studies curriculum outside of class. It is a rigorous academic component in and of itself, involving a significant amount of research, fieldwork, and a variety of journal activities. Students who complete these requirements for the Anake Outdoor School will graduate with an equivalency in the Kamana Naturalist Training Program, and will be able to start at the Kamana 3 level.
How will my personal learning goals be met?
While the curriculum of Anake Outdoor School is broad and very rich, we recognize that each student comes here with their own unique goals and desires for what they receive from participating in the program. There are two main ways we work to support you in achieving these personal goals. First, each student is matched with one of the core instructors to provide personal support and guidance, most often in the form of reviews of your weekly inventories, research and reflections. Instructors also offer students evaluative feedback at the end of each quarter.Secondly,all of the students matched with a particular instructor form a Learning Group, of groups from 9 to 12 students.These Learning Groups get together periodically outside of class, often over dinner, to support each other in achieving personal goals, overcoming stumbling blocks, and planning extracurricular adventures and experiences. The Learning Groups are guided by a core instructor and a apprentice, but are also very much student-driven, as taking responsibility for your own experience is an important component to Anake Outdoor School's fundamental approach to learning.
How does the Anake Outdoor School compare with something like NOLS or Outward Bound?
We've had participants from NOLS and Outward Bound who have graduated from the Anake Outdoor School. Their feedback has been that we are a blend of wilderness survival skills and leadership skills, and a great complement to anything folks have learned at those organizations! We teach “hard” skills that a wilderness survival course or a more technical school would, and we also have a strong emphasis on leadership development and personal transformation. We have a lot of respect for NOLS and Outward Bound, and also feel that what we offer is powerful and different from either of them.
Who can apply to the Anake Outdoor School?
All adults age 18 and over may apply to the Anake Outdoor School. There are no knowledge requirements or course prerequisites.
What ages is the Anake Outdoor School for?
We accept students to this outdoor skills course starting at age 18. We've had graduates who have been age 60 and older as well!
Can International/Overseas Students Apply?
Yes! Wilderness Awareness School is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant alien students (international/overseas students). Please use our request form for more information about enrolling.
What kind of training do I need before coming to the Anake Outdoor School?
No special training needed! Other survival courses or schools may require prerequisites or be a mostly lecture-based survival class with one staff lecturing to 30 or more students. At Anake Outdoor School our low student-to-teacher ratio allows for much more individualized attention and training tailored for each student's interests and abilities. In addition to 4 full-time instructors, we have 4-6 returning second-year students who add their experiences to the mix.
Should I have taken courses with Wilderness Awareness School or other schools to be a part of the Program?
There are no prerequisites for the Anake Outdoor School. You will not have to take any additional classes or workshops other than those covered in your tuition costs.
However, in addition to encouraging prospective Anake Outdoor School students to visit the program (see below), we also encourage you to attend one of our weekend or week long workshops or expeditions if you are interested in doing so. This can give you a better idea of what Wilderness Awareness School and our teachings are like, and help decide if the Anake Outdoor School is right for you. See what classes are available here.
Do I have to be working towards a degree or enrolled in a college or university to be part of the Anake Outdoor School?
No. Many students are here just for the unique training that we have to offer and are not concerned with receiving college credit. Some students are finished with college and are augmenting their education with our course, while other students are attending the Anake Outdoor School instead of a traditional college/university.
What is the application process for the course?
Now accepting applications!
Application Timeline and Payment Due Dates
Standard Application and Enrollment Period
November 15: Application period opens
- Acceptance letters are mailed within a week of application being received, scholarship award letters mailed within 1 month.
- Within four weeks of receiving acceptance letter, a $2000 payment is due to secure enrollment and scholarship award, includes a $100 non-refundable enrollment fee.
September 1: First payment due (remainder of tuition, minus any scholarship, divided by two). December 15: Final payment due (the remaining balance).
NOTES: More details will be included in the letter you will receive when you apply.
All applications will be considered on a Rolling Admissions basis. Immediate acceptance into the program is possible until we have a total of 40 students accepted. Once we have 40 acceptances, applications will be responded to in the order received.
May I come and observe the Anake Outdoor School?
Yes, we welcome and encourage all interested students to observe our course in person. Each year, we have several special Visit Days that are intended to provide you with the best opportunity to get to know our program through direct participation in a class day. You must register ahead of time to participate in one of these Visit Days, and space may be limited!
Where is the course located?
The Anake Outdoor School is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains by the Snoqualmie River at Wilderness Awareness School's home base in Duvall, Washington. The school's property is called Linne Doran (Gaelic for “Pond of the Otter”) and our land consists of over 40 acres of mature and second growth forest as well as the land's namesake pond and wetlands. This campus is adjacent to the vast forest lands of the Snoqualmie-Baker National Forest, west of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
Classroom facilities at Linne Doran include “Cedar Lodge,” our new classroom building and gathering hall which houses the Ingwe Library and also has four apartments for Anake Outdoor School students on the second floor; “The Wolf Den,” our 30 foot modern yurt; and “Malalo Ya Chui” (which means “Lair of the Leopard”), a more rustic 20 foot structure modeled after an African Akamba hut, built to honor School co-founder, Ingwe.
Day trip locations often include riparian sandbars along the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers, many great county parks, the high Cascades, and the desert ecosystems of eastern Washington. The Program also takes several extended field trips throughout the Northwest each year.
Where do Anake Outdoor School students live?
There are some limited on-campus housing options, with many of our students locating their own housing in the Duvall area with support from staff. Most students opt for shared housing in rural country homes, though apartments, cabins, and yurts are often available in the area as well. Most of our students live in shared houses or apartments in the Snoqualmie River valley, which includes the towns of Duvall, Carnation, Monroe, Fall City, and Snoqualmie. The shared housing saves the students money on rent and adds an additional aspect of community to the course.
Will I be able to work and do the Program at the same time? Is there work available in the area?
Yes. The Anake Outdoor School usually meets during three consecutive class days per week, and this schedule is designed to allow students to be able to work at least part-time. Many of our students do work. Their range of jobs includes working at other schools and child care, outdoor labor, employment at rock-climbing gyms or other outdoor recreation organizations, working with moving companies, working at coffee stands and restaurants, delivering pizzas, etc. You should have no problem finding a part-time job to help support your studies.
Second-Year Options and Career Opportunities
What opportunities are there for those who complete the first year?
Students who complete the Anake Outdoor School have the option, and are highly encouraged, to continue into a second year of study in our Anake Leadership Program or the Wildlife Tracking Intensive (or both). These courses provide the opportunity for students to round out their Wilderness Awareness studies with professional experience and focused learning.
Will I be able to take this program and then live off in the woods by myself?
The short answer: if you apply yourself you will have the skills, but you might just not want to anymore. We've had a number of students at Anake Outdoor School who stated at the beginning of the year that this was a goal for them. While we teach wilderness survival skills and you will have a great deal of knowledge and experience by the end of the year, our focus is on group survival. A graduate from this year stated that he was now “cured” of the itch to go off by himself in the woods, and that he saw that as a really valuable “survival skill” to be able to enjoy having other people in his life.
Will this training help me to start my own wilderness survival or outdoor education school?
Yes! We have a number of graduates around North America and the world who have started their own school or program after completing the Anake Outdoor School. Many graduates on this path come back for our second-year Anake Leadership Program and get to apprentice side-by-side with our staff to learn exactly how we run our programs and give support for them to do this themselves.
Can I receive college credit?
Yes. Undergraduate college credit through Western State Colorado University is available for the Anake Outdoor School. It is 18 credits (6 in Environmental Studies, 6 in Biology and 6 in Recreation) and these credits are transferable. There is more information on Western State Colorado University website.
Also, if you are currently enrolled at a college or university you may be able to work out a way to receive credit for our course through your own college or university. Several of our students have had success in doing so. Talking to an academic advisor at your school is a good way to start researching this option.
Past students have reported that the following schools have granted some form of credit for their Anake Outdoor School experience. Students need to make their own arrangements.
- Cornell University
- Prescott College
- Antioch University Seattle
- The Evergreen State College
- Humboldt State University
- Mankato State University
If I was going to take a year off from college to take the Anake Outdoor School, would I be able to get college credit for it?
Yes. Undergraduate college credit through Western State College is available for the Anake Outdoor School. It is 18 credits (6 in Environmental Studies, 6 in Biology and 6 in Recreation) and these credits are transferable. There is more information on Western State College's website. If you have additional questions about college credit, please complete our request form.
We have a number of students who take a “gap year” between high school and college, or who take a year off from college to come and attend the Anake Outdoor School. We also have folks looking to change course in their lives after having been working for a number of years and this course encourages exploration of interests and life-purpose.
Tuition and Scholarships
How much does the course cost?
Tuition for the Anake Outdoor School is $12,950. This cost includes all instruction, workshops, field trips, and independent study materials for the school year. Tuition does not include living expenses.
Upon acceptance into the course, a $2,000 payment is required to secure your enrollment. The remainder of the tuition is payable in two equal installments (the remainder of the tuition, minus any scholarship, divided by two).
Do you offer Financial Aid?
We do not currently offer Financial Aid. We've offered this in the past, but the loan rates have been cost prohibitive. We recommend students look at private loans through their own banks as these have yielded the best options.
We offer our own scholarships for the Anake Outdoor School, which can range from $500 to $3000. You can fill out a scholarship when you apply for for the program.
Veterans Benefits/GI Bill
Veterans Benefits Tuition assistance may be available to U.S. Veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services.
I'm a military veteran; Can I use my GI Bill to pay for the Anake Outdoor School?
Every year we have a number of veterans who use the GI Bill or related military benefits to participate in the Anake Outdoor School. Please review the information below and contact the Anake Outreach Coordinator with any questions:
Will the VA cover the entire cost of the program?
Every student has a unique situation. The full tuition is eligible, and veterans are generally eligible for living expenses when class is in session (not during any breaks as per standard VA policies). However, the amount available is determined by things like length of service and how much of your benefit has been used prior to enrolling in this program.
The school cannot tell you how your specific situation will be covered. Speak to your Military Admissions Representative about your options, or use one of the following online resources.
What happens if I'm not eligible for the full amount of tuition or if the VA does not pay up?
You will be responsible for any amount not paid by the VA. We are often able to work with veterans when payment from the VA is slow, but ultimately the student is expected to meet his or her fiscal responsibility to the school. Students will be asked to stop attending class if payment issues are not resolved in a timely manner. Communication with the school is key in such cases.
What types of veteran's benefits can WAS accept?
We can accept the following:
- Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) *this benefit is eligible for monthly payment plan upon approval.
- Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation)
- Chapter 32 (VEAP)
- Chapter 33 Post 9/11
- Chapter 33 TEB For Dependents
- Chapter 35 (DEA) For Dependents
We are not eligible for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), as our program is not considered to be in a high demand occupation
We are not a Yellow Ribbon school.
What is the right benefit for me? Which is better?
The school can't tell you that. Only the Veteran's Administration can tell you what options are available to you. Please contact your Military Admissions Representative about your options. Contact info is located below:
Veterans Affairs Benefits & Services
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8am to 9pm ET
Can I use my VA benefits along with Financial Aid?
Our only current form of financial aid is our in-house, need-based scholarship program. Veterans with GI Bill benefits available would not be eligible for such a scholarship. We are not eligible for federal financial aid because we are not a Title IV school.
Is WAS a Yellow Ribbon program?
No, we are not.
Am I considered a full time Student while attending the Anake programs?
Yes, both the Anake Outdoor School and the Anake Leadership Program are considered full-time programs.
The Anake Outdoor School is 680 clock hours and the second year ALP program is 772 clock hours.
I'm the dependent of a veteran or a veteran who wants to transfer benefits to a dependent. How does this work?
Each situation is different, and only the Veteran's Administration can tell you what all your options are.
Here are some links to get started:
To transfer benefits the recommended steps are:
- Log on the Department of Defense Transfer Education Benefits website (compatible only with Internet Explorer). Submit the Transferability Application to request transfer of benefits to dependent.
- Dependent must go to VONAPP website and complete the VONAPP VA Form 22-1990e
- Applicant will receive a copy of the COE
- Send copies of the VONAPP and COE to WAS along with your registration forms.
How do I use my Montgomery GI Bill benefits at WAS?
Veterans receiving this benefit are paid monthly, for the preceding month. We have created a monthly payment plan for those veterans, with the understanding that all tuition must be paid in full by the end of the program. Keep in mind that it usually takes 90 days for your first check to arrive.
When and how do I receive my benefits?
We are unable to certify you in the VA system until you’ve completed and signed the VA Intent form (part of our enrollment packet) and turned in a recent Certificate of Eligibility (a form you request from the VA).
Once we receive the necessary paperwork, we typically certify new students in the VA system a week or two before the start of classes. It takes the VA anywhere from 15-60 days to process an initial certification.
Post 9/11 tuition benefits are paid to the school. You will be notified when this happens. Montgomery GI Bill benefits are paid to the student, who must then make payment to the school.
Living expenses and any other payments are made directly to the student by the Veteran's Administration.
Who can I contact at WAS if I have more questions about using my GI Bill benefits?
Anake Outreach Coordinator
How do I enroll in the program?
Veterans and/or dependents of veterans intending to use VA Education benefits to attend the Anake Outdoor School or the Anake Leadership program must undergo the same admission process as all other students. Our programs are unique, and it's important that every student is a good fit.
The first step is to consider attending a visit day and/or talk to our Anake Outreach Coordinator.
The next step is to fill out the Anake application. Once your application is approved, you will complete the enrollment process by completing all required forms from our online registration system, including the Veteran’s Intent form. Before we can complete the certification with the VA, we will need a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) form you receive from the VA.