1. What is The Walden Project?

    • The Walden Project is a full-time high school and gap year program inspired by the life and writings of Henry David Thoreau. The Walden Project provides an interdisciplinary education in an outdoor setting with an emphasis on academic independence and freedom.

  2. My child is only 13. Can he or she still do the program?

    • The recommended age for The Walden Project is 14-19, but if a younger student is mature enough for the independence needed for a self-directed learning program, he or she is welcome to apply!

  3. Do students actually learn anything if there aren’t grades or tests?

    • For nearly two decades, students at The Walden Project in Vermont have been 30-50% more likely to go to college than their peers from the same high school. Each student’s experience is unique, but a vast majority say that Walden helped them learn how to learn, how to write, and how to think critically. Students also said that Walden helped them develop a deeper awareness of the natural world and engaged them in current events.

  4. Can you fail The Walden Project?

    • If it is determined that a student did not fulfill part of the requirements for any reason, the transcript would only indicate the credits that were earned. For example, if a student did not do any quality work related to Environmental Science, his or her transcript would not say that Environmental Science was failed, but rather, it would not be listed on the transcript at all.

  5. I am going to apply for a needs-based scholarship. When do I find out how much financial assistance I will receive?

    • The deadline for needs-based scholarships is July 30th. After all of the applications are received, The Willowell Foundation will allocate all of the available scholarship money and students should receive an email within the first two weeks of August. 

  6. Will you be able to accommodate my child’s IEP?

    • Yes. In addition to the official IEP that some students may bring to The Walden Project, ALL students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning preferences and obstacles to develop their own individualized plan for each project they work on throughout the year

  7. Will my school accept credits from The Walden Project?

    • Most local high schools consider a year at The Walden Project to be academically equivalent to a year in public school. If a student is planning to return to a public school after completing The Walden Project, guidance counselors and school administrators should be consulted to make sure that credits will transfer.

  8. What happens if the weather gets really, really bad? Do you come inside?

    • If there is a safety concern related to weather -- if it is dangerously cold or if there is lightning -- the group will seek shelter. Additionally, The Walden Project recognizes that each person has a different level of experience and comfort in nature. We encourage students to push their own limits and challenge themselves, but also encourage them to trust their instincts about when to stop. 

  9. What do you do if someone gets hurt at The Walden Project?

    • All students and staff will have Wilderness First Aid training so that we can all work together to prevent accidents and respond to medical issues. In the event of a serious medical issue, The Walden Project staff have long-range two-way radios so they can contact Cumming Nature Center staff even when they are deep in the woods.

  10. Can I enroll part-time?

    • We do not have an option for a part-time enrollment in terms of tuition. However, we are willing to work with families on a case by case basis with regard to attendance. If, for example, the student is the caretaker for a child or other family member and needs a flexible schedule, The Walden Project will work with that student to accommodate their special circumstances.

  11. Can students attend more than one year of The Walden Project?

    • Yes, it is possible. If the student plans to graduate from a public or private high school, the student should consult his or her guidance counselors to ensure that participation in The Walden Project does not complicate the student's pathway to graduation.

  12. Does The Walden Project require immunization records?

    • Yes. Per New York State Law, The Walden Project requires students to submit immunization records.

  13. How will The Walden Project make adjustments to keep students safe from COVID19?

    • The Walden Project will comply with New York State recommendations for social distancing and school cancellations related to COVID19. As an outdoor school, we feel that the open air environment will help minimize the spread of the disease, but we will consult with medical professionals throughout the year to ensure that reasonable precautions are taken to keep everyone safe. 

​*If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to contact us!

**If you have ideas for how to make The Walden Project better, consider joining the Walden Parent & Community Association. This group helps solve problems and improve the program. 


The Walden Project - New York is a one-year educational program for high school and gap year students that is based on Henry David Thoreau's Walden


(585) 317-5261

The Walden Project - NY

6472 Gulick Road

Naples, NY 14512

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