An Education, Wild and Free

The Walden Project is a year-long educational experience for high school and gap year students in Naples, NY. We offer interdisciplinary education in an outdoor setting with an emphasis on academic independence and freedom.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you followed your curiosity for a year, no matter where it took you? What would you learn if you had the freedom to explore the things that fascinate you, tracing every connection and intersection along the way? What if you discovered something amazing about yourself? What if you realized you are more resilient and resourceful than you thought? 

20 students. 900+ acre classroom. 1 year.


At the Walden Project, the lines between life, learning, and work are seamless. Students discuss philosophy around a campfire, grow their own food, engage with local ecology and history, and pursue areas of inquiry through self-directed research projects and service-learning placements.

Explore academics at the Walden Project


The Walden Project's outdoor, small-cohort model provides an accessible in-person educational option for high school and gap-year students. Most local schools accept Walden as a year of high school equivalency, and Walden's innovative and transformative curriculum lays a foundation for college and beyond!

Request information about credit transfers

Live the life you have imagined.

About Walden

The Walden Project - New York takes place at Cumming Nature Center in Naples, NY. It is modeled after the Walden Project based in Vermont, which has been in existence for almost two decades and has been featured as an innovative educational alternative on NPR, Edutopia, and in the Huffington Post. In 2018, Andy Webster brought this innovative program model to New York, where two cohorts of students have experienced the transformative power of a Walden year.

Andy Webster

Program Designer & Lead Teacher

Andy is a New York State Certified Earth Science Teacher with a decade of experience as a public school science teacher. He also has a B. A. in Conservation Ecology from Sterling College in Vermont and a M. Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from The Union Institute & University in Vermont. Andy has led nature-based outdoor education programs for his entire adult life, most recently teaching at the Cumming Nature Center's Forest School program. Outside of teaching, Andy and his partner, Maggie, have four children and a small organic farm.

Contact Andy

Cumming Nature Center

Naples, NY

The Rochester Museum and Science Center's Cumming Nature Center (CNC) is a dynamic environmental education facility that celebrates the unique landscape and culture of the Finger Lakes region through immersive outdoor education programs and thoughtful exhibits and events.


CNC has over 900-acres of preserved landscape, as well as 15 miles of trails that meander through wetlands, meadows, and forests. 

Learn more at


A year at Walden affords you the freedom to explore what interests you, pursuing complex questions and developing your understanding of self, culture, and the natural world. Students will test their resourcefulness, deepen their understanding of our interconnected world, and grow in their sense of self.

 Learn about the Walden Project experience

I don't learn in a normal way and was being smothered in the regular system...Walden allowed me the space to figure out how to learn in a way that worked for me.

Contact Andy to learn more about the Walden Project!

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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