The Sparhawk property is a treasure-trove of possibilities to encounter the beauty of God’s creation. We are fortunate to have such bounty available to our boys and their families. Every season of the year, every time of day, new opportunities arise to learn more about ourselves and the natural world.
We have chosen to cultivate some of our land, and so remove it from its wild state. On other parts of the property we have erected buildings, roads, walls, fences, and bridges. But there are still many acres of untamed forest and brooks. We accept the risks inherent in having such places on our property. By showing the boys how to take sensible precautions we instill in them a respect for potential dangers without preventing them from observing and exploring. A central part of our pedagogy includes giving boys the freedom to move around the property without immediate supervision, provided they have earned our trust.
- There is a wide variety of wildlife on our property. Some animals are not dangerous, e.g., frogs, toads, mice, small turtles, and snakes (the two venomous snakes native to Massachusetts are endangered species and extremely rare). Boys are permitted to gently capture these specific animals for observation and release.
- Boys should not disturb or attempt to capture mid-sized animals such as raccoons, beaver, skunks, etc. Most of them are not dangerous, but there is the possibility of rabies in some.
- Some animals can be very dangerous. There have been sightings of fisher cats, coyotes, and foxes within a few miles of Sparhawk, including a bear in 2017. Under no circumstances should a boy approach one of these animals, or any wounded animal. If he accidentally encounters one, he should immediately move away, slowly if possible, so as not to alarm the animal, and report the encounter to a teacher.
- Boys who venture into the woods must take precautions against poisonous plants and insects. They should be familiar with what poison ivy and similar plants look like, and must carefully check themselves and their clothing for ticks. It is wise to wear insect repellent. Normally the timely removal of a tick will prevent any infection.
- Hunting is not permitted.