Take a Gap Year

the Pioneer

exploring inner frontiers
since 2013

5 Oct - 20 Nov  I  Fall 2020


We are a unique Gap Year program in South Appalachia focused on personal growth through practical crafts, wilderness adventure, and living well in community.

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For 17-22 year-olds taking time away from formal academics to experience hands-on learning through expert facilitation; for purpose-seeking students who are ready to be active community members and empowered self-starters; for those ready to grow and transform, and by extension, contribute to a more sustainable, aware, and enthusiastic society.

Take on tasks joyfully in the garden and in cooking homemade foods. Make your life: create practical items from raw materials. Challenge yourself to play hard and explore this earth, and, as a result, lead with character, clarity, and confidence. Set yourself up for success and fulfillment in college, work, and life.



Make life-long relationships in a transformative, life-changing experience. We help you co-create an individually-tailored program to suit your interests within the group experience.


care for chickens

cook delicious meals

build garden beds

make jam/ cheese/ pie

grow food

make herbal medicine

ferment pickles

make compost

cultivate mushrooms

enjoy the land

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make natural soap

tan a deer hide

knit a hat

blacksmith a hook

throw a mug on the wheel

felt your own slippers

build a chicken coop

quilt a pillow

weave a basket

work with leather


climb a rock face

hike in old growth forests

paddle a canoe on a mountain lake

raft on a whitewater river

sleep under the stars

mountain bike wooded trails

swim at the lakefront

plan an adventure

identify plants and wildlife

play disc golf

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There was always something new and it was very exciting and I got my adventure and I got to meet all these cool people and see viewpoints I had never seen before. I felt like I became more and more the person I wanted to be. I felt more real from this experience.


We are community centered and experiential in essence. We believe the the best learning happens through experience and reflection as opposed to textbooks and tests.

We care deeply about each student and ensure that they get the attention they need to thrive in our program. We are unabashedly concerned with the health of our environment and thus teach practical skills in sustainable living to promote more ecologically mindful communities while striving to connect students to the natural world through wilderness expeditions. These wilderness adventure also serve to promote growth through their inherent challenges.

Craftsmanship is a dying value in our culture which has many unfortunate repercussions. Thus, we have chosen to promote traditional craft through exposing students to various artisans who still hold the wisdom of their respective craft traditions.


We believe that healthy communities are essential to the happiness and sustainability of our future, and therefore teach effective communication, conflict resolution, and facilitation techniques so that our students may become effective leaders in their own places.

We also believe that the Gap Year represents an incredible opportunity for students to do the important work of unearthing their passions and purpose outside of an academic environment.


​To foster direction, empowerment, and interdependence in young adults by offering a community-oriented educational experience focused on practical sustainable living, traditional craft, and outdoor leadership skills.


The Pioneer Project envisions a future where humans acknowledge their interdependence with each other and the Earth, while striving to live purpose-driven lives in service of others through creating supportive, ecologically sensitive communities.



Explore what sparks your fire by trying new things so you are able to steer your life’s ship with a confident hand. Without this clarity, living a conscious, values-directed life and making an impact on the wider community is impossible.


All change starts with the individual. Through critical examination of self-imposed barriers, develop the necessary skills for true self-reliance, and begin to recognize your own power to change your circumstances.


Individuals are necessarily members of cultural and natural communities and cannot act alone.  Realize the importance of community in nurturing ideas, reinforcing values, and taking action to create a better world by being a part of one.


A vision for your unique path / motivation for learning more / academic direction / awareness of personal strengths and areas for growth / increased independence and self-reliance / leadership skills / increased social maturity / confidence / healthy life skills / a transformational, life changing experience / lasting, meaningful friendships


Settle into the homestead and be a part of a group of peers. Stretch out into the yard to discover secret spots along the creek. Set up a hammock in the shade of tall trees. This place is magic.

Lane's End homestead is situated on 18 acres that are home to a wooded mountainside, a covered platform, a quarter-acre garden, a workshop, an orchard, a creek with a swimming hole, and all the plants and animals that inhabit the land.

Our campus is located in a thriving craft community. Brasstown, NC, is home to John C. Campbell Folk School, which is one of the premier craft schools in the nation. Because of the high volume of students the school hosts on a yearly basis, many talented crafters and artisans have settled in the area to be instructors and sell their wares. This trend has created a strong community of creative folks who are excited to share their skills with students. The rural, small-town atmosphere has helped foster a tight-knit community that is host to countless potlucks, festivals, dances, and other events.


Brasstown is within two hours from these city centers: Atlanta, GA, Athens, GA, Asheville, NC, Chattanooga, TN, Knoxville, TN; not to mention a plethora of natural treasures like the Nantahala, Chattooga and Ocoee rivers, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and half a million acres of spectacular National Forest. There is no shortage of adventure opportunities within a stone’s throw to deepen and diversify the experience for our students.