Growth Rings

At Schoolhouse of Wonder, our staff and campers are always striving to grow and learn.  “Growth Rings” is our system for acknowledging and celebrating growth in some of our core skills.  Children, CITs, and staff who choose to challenge themselves in areas like fire making, plant identification, whittling, or snake handling are offered escalating benchmarks. We use these “Rings” to encourage positive growth and development by setting appropriate goals and practicing follow through in a supportive environment. These levels are not meant to be earned with speed, but rather with patience and practice.

Fire Building

Fire lives and breathes.  As we challenge ourselves to create and use fire responsibly, we must remember that while it is beautiful, it is also dangerous.  Fire-Making Growth Rings are designed to teach respect while building confidence. Learn about the necessary materials needed for a fire, start a fire with a single match, light a fire using flint and steel, and finally, start a fire using a bow drill!

Plant Identification

Our Plant Identification Growth Rings offer a journey deep into the identification and appreciation of medicinal, edible and beautiful plants that live in the Piedmont of North Carolina.  Through these rings kids will learn to identify and understand plants in depth, from their makeup and roles in ecosystems to their roles in cultural history and medicine. Learn about the parts of plants, make and use a plant press, learn to identify different kinds of plants, and make a plant guide!


Owning a pocketknife is a right of passage.  Using it effectively is a skill slowly gained over a lifetime.  Our Whittling Growth Rings are help kids begin that journey.  Learn the basic rules for safe whittling, make a flat-sided object, whittle a usable butter knife, and show your skill by whittling a spoon!

Snake Identification and Handling

Our kids watch with wide eyes the many snakes that live among us.  Our Snake Identification and Handling Rings are built around respecting the beauty and wisdom of the snake, while knowing that they can be dangerous if not properly identified. Learn to distinguish five local snakes (including venomous vs non-venomous), become comfortable holding a non-venemous snake, create a snake guide, and, with supervision, find and catch a snake.