Expand your guiding practice into a Sacred Site to share forest therapy with a new community of people interested in connecting with nature for healing and restoration.
In the spring, the Association met with Nature Sacred to learn more about them and to discover opportunities for collaboration. Nature Sacred is an organization that designs and installs “sacred sites” in urban communities with the intention to “reconnect people with nature—to restore our minds. Regain perspective. Find balance. Renew ourselves.” As we walked through a sacred site and spoke with Erin Robertson, Executive Director, we felt a natural partnership develop with our shared desire to connect people to nature in a healing way.
A few guides in the Maryland and DC area have guided at sacred sites, and now we wanted to share this opportunity with all of you. All activities that happen at Sacred Sites are free and available to the public. This doesn’t mean you need to guide for free, but rather that you meet with the site’s “Fire Soul,” an impassioned individual who oversees the site, to share your desire to bring forest therapy to their community. Share with them what forest therapy is and how it can support the intention of their Nature Sacred site. If they would like to bring forest therapy to their site, then they can request funding to compensate you for your guiding service.
There are Nature Sacred sites in the following locations:
Nature Sacred is interested in informing their Fire Souls about the opportunity to offer forest therapy programming at Sacred Sites. They would like a list of Certified Guides near sacred sites who are available to guide at these locations and the cost of guiding. Nature Sacred can then send an email out to their Fire Souls letting them know that Forest Therapy is an approved program that they can offer at their Sacred Site.
If you have a Sacred Site in your community and would like to guide there, then share with Michelle, Director of Member Services & Partnership Coordinator, the following:
This is a wonderful opportunity to bring forest therapy to a new population within your community and to show that forest therapy can be adapted to a variety of environments.
Nature Sacred exists to inspire, inform and guide communities in the creation of public green spaces—called Sacred Places—designed to improve mental health, unify communities and engender peace. For over 25 years, Nature Sacred has partnered with over 130 communities across the country to infuse nearby nature into places where healing is often needed most: distressed urban neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, prisons and more. Through a collaborative, community-led process and an evidence-based design model, each Sacred Place is bonded together by a common goal: to reconnect people with nature in ways that foster mindful reflection, restore mental health and strengthen communities. As each community imagines its own space, the design becomes a unique reflection of the community’s culture, story and place—making it inherently sacred to them.
Guiding in the outdoors, often year round, means an investment in clothing and gear, which can be costly. One way to save is to apply for Pro Deals!
Pro deals are deep discounts on outdoor gear exclusively for outdoor industry professionals. As an outdoor professional you provide the most authentic and effective form of marketing: personal knowledge and experience. You have the power to influence others, and because of this, brands are willing to offer you discounts on their products.
These companies ask that you only purchase items for yourself and that you not tell others you have a pro deal account. Some brands, like Keen, do allow family member purchases and offer periodic discount codes to share with friends and family.
ANFT has a webpage dedicated to Pro Deals from brands where an ANFT staff member has been approved. ANFT cannot guarantee that you will be approved for a pro deal. To improve your chances for success, it's recommended that you use a business email that is linked to your forest therapy practice and, preferably, a website that shows you have an active forest therapy business. You will also be asked to upload a pay stub or check that shows you are employed by a company that aligns with outdoor guiding.
Each application is different, but most request a description of your work. Here is an example of how you might describe your work to appeal to a brand:
"I am a certified forest therapy guide leading public and private walks along trails on public and private land. Forest therapy guided walks are typically 2-3 hours with 5-15 people participating. We stress that nature is always open, you just need the right gear to enjoy it. Participants are requested to dress appropriately for the weather and terrain."
If you have a Pro Deal with a company other than what is listed on the ANFT webpage, especially outside the United States, please email Michelle with information - brand, contact, any special requirements. This is a great opportunity to save money and market the brands we support.
Obtaining permits to guide walks on public lands is a standard practice, but there may be a better way. The National Park Service offers a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) that is valid for one year and includes unlimited forest therapy guided walks all for one fee! In D.C the fee is $200.
The CUA does have some stipulations:
Each National Park has their own CUA and may have slightly different expectations. Rock Creek and George Washington Memorial parks in Washington D.C. do not require guides to submit any information about dates/times of scheduled walks. You have paid to use the land for one year, and as long as you stay within the parameters of the CUA, you can do as much business there as you like. These parks will allow you to go off trail as long as people are mindful and respectful, stay within a reasonable distance from the trail, and don't call attention to being off trail which may encourage others to do so. Other parks may also be open to allowing guides off trail if you explain the ethics of Forest Therapy and include language like land tending and honoring all beings.
For guides with Alternative Balance Insurance, you meet the insurance requirement and the document you need for the CUA is attached. If you don’t have insurance, and are interested in Alternative Balance, then please use this link so ANFT is acknowledged as the referrer
The contact for Rock Creek and George Washington Memorial is
Concessions Management Specialist | NPS Commercial Services
Rock Creek Park | National Park Service
Jason is happy to speak with each guide individually or to host a group call with D.C. area guides to walk you through this process or answer questions.
Some other good news is that the National Park Service is in the process of developing a Regional CUA! This means you could offer walks in multiple parks with one CUA!
Please email Michelle, Director of Member Services, if you have obtained a CUA, are in the process, or have made contact with your local national park and have questions. We will be hosting a member call soon on this topic.