It’s Not a School; It’s a Guild

The Guild at Loudoun Field Center is an opportunity to embrace learning as a function of family and community.

(Also posted on Great Conversation(s) )

It’s About Time

We have a limited amount of time with our kids. Before we even blink… they’re talking …reading… and then they’re driving… then they’re driving away.

So one of our main concerns is what kind of education our kids get while they’re with us.

In the modern age there seem to be limited options on that front. We can send them to the public school, we can find them a private school… or we can homeschool them. But those are pretty much our choices. In other ways, though, there are unlimited options. There are all these books, and lists, and advice from super moms and genius dads who seem to have it all together… giving us conflicting advice:

  • They need to be “socialized” but… by whom? For what purpose? A GANG is socialized.
  • They need to be CHALLENGED…. So give them 3.5 hours of homework a night?
  • They should learn how to code, but don’t forget the arts and their creative side!
  • They should get out and get some exercise, but don’t overschedule them with sports!
  • They should be independent…. But they need precious family time!

What many have missed is that the most fundamental and meaningful way to educate your kids is NOT to separate out the education of them out from the raising of them. We have a choice to make: either education is a function of family and community or it is not. If it is, then what the kids need is not a school.. but something else.

No school, by the current definition of a school — 180 days times seven hours of “instructional time” for 13 years; over 16,000 hours of professional instruction— can really strike this balance for us. What the kids need… what the family needs…  is a community. A place where the kids can learn, with support from peers and from mentors who can guide them through wholesome content, good conversations, and great ideas.

Families don’t need another school…but … a Team. A Coalition…. a League… a Tribe… a Village … where there is a common pursuit, a united purpose, with a variety of different vocations and roles to fill… where people with different skills and strengths can help each other in pursuing Wisdom, and Good, and a life of Virtue…

What they need…. is a GUILD.

They need a Guild.

Introducing … The Guild at the Loudoun Field Center, where students, ages 10 to 18, come together to pursue common goals of scholarship, artisanship, communication skills, service, and good character. A place where they can gain knowledge from local artisans, thinkers, and community leaders.

With a championship disc golf course and hiking trails, a peaceful – but stocked – natural-spring-supported lake, camping grounds, an archery range, athletic facilities, a workshop/makerspace, and a chapel… the LFC is a place to escape from the workaday world and focus on being the person you want to be, with the help and love of others doing the same.

Maybe your family is ready for something like this. Maybe you’re an artist, a teacher, or someone with a unique skill or passion that can help the next generation.

If you’re looking to join, the first step is to schedule an interview. We have limited space for students and limited opportunities for programming and talent for this coming fall. But if you’re looking to get away and just… be, and learn, and share your passion…this is the right place.

Prospective Mentors:
Prospective Students/Families:

(Currently classes are filling up, with offerings ranging from P.E. and Archery to Astronomy/Astrophysics to Small Engines (already full) and Math Support, so please reserve a spot soon, or if you want something more…comprehensive, fill out the Guild-Inquiry Form.)

Join Us at the Freedom Center!

As the world emerges from two years of challenge and change, the Freedom Center is stepping forward boldly. New projects, people, directions, and partners join the mix. For almost a year we have been in planning mode so now is the time our dreams take flight! I am looking forward to you joining us in the next adventure. It will be busy, but with friends alongside us, adventures are always fun.

We are working hard to make improvements in virtually every part of the property. New roofs, remodeling, repairs, landscaping, reopening long dormant buildings, and so much more! I will start blogging about our current and future projects. They are all driving by events and directions that are heading our way.

We have an exciting, and expanding, schedule of events at the Freedom Center — including the largest, longest set of camps we have ever hosted. From our own events to those of partners, there is always something happening at the center. Here is just a peak at what’s ahead:

Loudoun Field Center Education Program

Starting in September, we kick off the Loudoun Field Center – a 6th-12th grade education program helping empower and equip young adults to intentionally engage the modern world with clear purpose and meaning. Starting with individualized self-pace academic studies, we then step into real-world projects and skills development. We turn knowledge into understanding and then into skills. Focused on a whole-life model we prepare young adults to go into the world with purpose and intent. Checkout our website at for more information.

Spring Physical Education with Gamepoint (March-May)
(Combined with Archery Below)

After a successful winter program, with education partner GamePoint Athletics we are offering another robust PE program for middle and high school students in a friendly and non-judgemental learning environment.  Students will participate in many cooperative learning activities that work on group problem solving skills.  Skills that require intense teamwork and persistence to achieve a set objective. Students will also play in fun traditional and non-traditional PE games, and learn and practice potential lifetime physical activities and skills. Additionally, students will be engaged in physical activities that are designed to improve present levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Watch website at for more information.

Archery (March-May)

Who wouldn’t want to learn the art of hitting a bull’s-eye with ease? It’s fun, healthy, and something you can be proud of. Archery helps develop physical abilities, focus, control, determination, and precision. Join us for an introduction to Archery starting this March 25. Watch our website at for more information.

Traveling Theater Ensemble Overnight Summer Programs (June-August)

We are particularly excited about our new partnership with the Traveling Theater Ensemble. From June through August, we will be hosting their two overnight camp sessions focusing on great theater in the great outdoors. In each three-week session will create several productions curated for youth of different ages and talents. Their program rehearses and production support needed including costumes, sets, and production team skills. After the camps they take their theater productions on the road. See the ensemble’s website for full details (

Wilderness Day Camp (August)

Regina Gossage returns this year with the popular wilderness day camp program. The two week-day sessions start on August 15 and August 22. Kids enjoy our recreational areas as well as learning about wilderness activities and get an introduction into survival. Watch our blog for more information.

TimberNook Loudoun County (July-August)

The year is Rebekah Highlander introduces Loudoun County to TimberNook Camps. TimberNook programs offer the ultimate sensory experience for children, challenging the mind, body and the senses through meaningful outdoor play opportunities. Three camps are planned for the weeks of July 18th, July 27th, and August 1. Watch their Facebook group “TimberNook Loudoun County” for details.

LoCo Disc Golf Club

Throughout the year LoCo Disc Golf Club runs both local and sanctioned tournaments on the top ranked Clarke’s Run Disc Golf Course. This year they are hosting the first A-Tier tournament in Northern Virginia. You can find more information on all these events at: 

  • December 12th (2021) – Club Doubles Event
  • January 8th – Club Doubles Event 
  • May 6th, 7th & 8th – LoCo Open (“A-Tier”  Professionals Only)
  • June 25th – Brent Anderson Memorial 
  • June 26th – Tiger Lilly – Women’s Only Tournament/Event
  • September 24th & 25th – LoCo Open (Amateurs Only)

Everything Else

In the midst of all that we are still hosting groups from all over the region. Whether week long retreats, family groups, scout camps, or folks enjoying the trailhead activities and walks through the grounds. We are working to improve life one day, one person, one group, at a time. 

Paul Gernhardt
Freedom Center Executive Director

The Next Thing: #optout

Yes, the system has failed us, so we need to unplug and create something new

We don’t have all the answers. It’s not completely clear how it’s all gonna work out. It never is, though. The powers that be now — the people who are in charge — don’t know how it’s all going to work out. The people who make decisions how 90,000 kids in Loudoun County are going to spend 35 hours a week… for 39 weeks a year…haven’t shown any talents for prognostication so far. That’s unlikely to change.

It’s fairly evident, though, that in the case of the school system, a simple lack of foreknowledge — or even a lack of competence — is not all that is at play. The issue is actually one of purpose. There’s a divide between what they seek and what we seek for our kids.

So the one thing we do know is that we must declare our independence. We have to extricate ourselves from the system that is continuing to disrupt and corrupt our families, our communities, our institutions. What happens after that is not under our control. The problem is that we won’t know what to do next as long as we’re fighting a behemoth whose main operational significance is that it DEMANDS 180 days a year of your child’s all-day rapt attention.

There is absolutely no way around it. An #armyofparents needs to find and understand what territory it is actually defending, and defend it. Either education is a community and family driven enterprise or it is not. If it is, then sending the army up against the battlements of a 100 year old entrenched system hyper-focused on inputs and the maintenance of its own existence… is not the most productive use of our time.

On July 4 we celebrated our independence from Great Britain. By then many had also made the decision that they weren’t going to send their kids back to an organization that continues to fail us and our children. 

But if we didn’t make that leap yet, know this: on September 18, 2021 we have our Constitution Day. Come celebrate with us at the Loudoun field center in Lucketts Virginia, and meet folks from all around… educators, parents, community leaders, and other concerned citizens who are ready to reassert the community itself, and not the educational bureaucracy as the backbone of our kids’ — and our — education.

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