About Our Programs


Ventura Wild is an education program of Ventura Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Our programs are designed to connect children to nature and instill a deep sense of belonging, by nurturing awareness, knowledge, skills and stewardship in the natural world.

Stay up to date with Ventura Wild by subscribing to our newsletter here!

Program Offerings

HOMESCHOOL PROGRAMS
Students discover the challenge and inspiration of learning from life through awareness, investigation and play. Longer programs allow for deeper exploration, discovery and opportunity for projects and focused skills. We accept Charter Funds!
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
A chance to engage with friends in natural settings, balance screen and classroom time with sensory, physical and metal wellness time: sitting by a creek, walking through the trees, noticing the wind, sun and water soothes the soul.
FOREST PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS
Children growing into some independence will enjoy this opportunity to explore, play and connect in natural settings. Our programs focus on whole body natural learning rhythms that allow children to discover themselves, each other and the planet. Click to Learn More
BILINGUAL PROGRAMS
We invite children to explore, learn and play outside with us in Spanish! Every week we explore wild places around our communities and gain awareness, knowledge, self reliance and social skills. Our bilingual instructors are skilled naturalists, educators and mentors.
INTERMEDIATE SKILLS
Is your child ready to practice more intermediate nature-based skills? This program is best suited for children who have experience in nature and are capable of more focused skills and adventurous hiking.
SUMMER CAMPS
Week-long day camps, each day visiting different wild places to explore and learn about our local ecosystems. Usually involving beaches or swimming holes, and always a fun opportunity to be with friends and deepen the programs we offer during the rest of the year.
RITE OF PASSAGE
This is an opportunity for your child to step into the transition from childhood to adolescence feeling empowered and supported, exploring friendships, family, self and the world together. 
SCHOOL-BASED PROGRAMS
We partner with schools to offer environmental education programs for their students. Programs include school field trips and extended learning opportunities that are in line with classroom goals. Contact us for more info.
NATURE THERAPY
Ventura Wild and Children’s Therapy Network (CTN) are in partnership to provide a program focused on group therapy in nature. Led by a Ventura Wild educator and licensed CTN therapist, children participating gain sensory, communication, motor and cognitive development.
FAMILY EVENTS & HIKES
Our education team provides family events, workshops and guided hikes through Ventura Land Trust’s public events. Come join us for tide pooling, birding, night hikes and so much more! View our upcoming events here.

Program Core Routines

From: Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature.
The Core Routines of Nature Connection are things people do to learn nature’s ways. They aren’t lessons. They aren’t knowledge. They are learning habits. Luckily for us as nature guides, shifting our mental habits into these Core Routines of Nature Connection comes as second nature to all human beings. A description of the Core Routines of Nature Connection original source: www.outsidenow.org (this page has since been moved or deleted). Here is the original content:

Sit spot
The idea is simple: guide people to find a special place in nature and then become comfortable with just being there, still and quiet. In this place, the lessons of nature will seep in.

Expanding Sensory Awareness
For nature connection, we use only one golden rule: notice everything. Get down in the dirt and feel it.

Questioning and Tracking
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Like peering through a window into wildlife, tracking animals can be endlessly fascinating.

Animal Forms
Observe animals to see how the animals walk, run, eat, dance, and then in games model those animal forms.

Wandering
Wander through the landscape without time, destination, agenda, or future purpose; be present in the moment; and go off-trail wherever curiosity leads.

Mapping
Orient to the compass directions, and perceive the landscape from a bird’s eye view. Draw maps to locate features of the landscape or tell stories that map your explorations.

Exploring Field Guides
Field Guides facilitate further learning and inquiry. A field guide is a book designed to help the reader identify wildlife (plants or animals) or other objects in the natural world.

Journaling
Stories can be told to a journal. This might be done through drawing or art, or writing, depending on the skill and interest of the author/artist. Journals are a great way to record experiences with sit spot, create personal field guides, or keep seasonal records.

Survival Living
Nothing gives us more meaningful relationships with nature than really putting ourselves out in the elements and living off the land. It creates the ultimate need to learn.

Mind’s Eye Imagining
Use and strengthen your imagination as much as possible, imprinting images in your mind to gather from the experience of all five senses. This routine develops our imagination and our ability to re-experience events with our eyes closed.

Thanksgiving
How is “Thanksgiving” a routine for nature awareness? If we all find in yourself a grateful heart and express gratitude for any and all aspects of nature and life, if we begin every episode with thanksgiving and give nods of thanks as you go about your day, then we will redevelop the connections that our ancestors had to have to survive.

Story of the day
Story telling knits the society together. The men would go out for a day of tracking and hunting, while grandmothers and children might harvest berries, root vegetables, or bark to make thread and cloth.

Listening for Bird Language
Be still and listen. Quiet down and crane your ears and eyes to notice the vocal signals and body language of birds and other animals, including humans. What message do you hear in their voice?

Flow of the Day

The following gives an overview of what to expect during a day in Ventura Wild. Our programs are guided by this flow but also allow for spontaneous moments in nature to arise.

All of our programs maintain a 4:1 child to mentor ratio. Our mentors are highly experienced naturalists and educators passionate about supporting your child’s nature connection journey in a safe and compassionate learning environment. Click here to learn more about our team.

  • BEGINNING – Drop-off includes a game/activity to welcome participants and build group cohesion.

  • OPENING CIRCLE – We gather together to set safety agreements and introduce the daily theme and options for skills or activities. This is also an opportunity for water, snacks and bathroom breaks.

  • EXPLORING – Kids will have the opportunity to discover the world around them with their peers. This might include tracking, foraging, mapping, treasure hunts, finding mysteries…endless possibilities!

  • SNACK – Time is set aside to sit and eat, drink water and be in community celebrating food and place.

  • SKILLS – Wilderness skills are introduced and time is provided for practice and development. Kids may work on one project over the course of the session, or try a new skill each day.

  • REFLECTION – Individual time to sit and write in a journal, play quietly, sit in meditation or walk silently. Group reflections might include sharing, problem solving or group stewardship projects such as clean-ups or plantings. 

  • CLOSING CIRCLE – Includes sharing gratitude and a personal “story of the day” or other meaningful reflections. 

How to Prepare for Ventura Wild

After completing your registration for a Ventura Wild program, you will receive a welcome letter via email from your lead mentor. This will includes information on how to prepare, including what to wear, pack, and directions to program locations. With the support from donations, loaner gear is available for any missing items!

What to Wear:

  • Hat

  • Lightweight long pants  – to protect from scratchy plants, sun and bug bites

  • Lightweight button down long sleeve shirt that can get dirty – to protect from scratchy plants, sun and bug bites

  • Closed toed shoes/water shoes

What to Pack:
*All items to be packed inside a backpack that fits properly and comfortably

  • Full water bottle – at least 1/2 liter

  • Extra sunscreen

  • Warm layer

  • Healthy snacks Please keep plastic wrappers/packaging to a minimum to encourage less trash.

Optional: 

  • Personal bandana, insect repellent, hand sanitizer

  • Compass, compact binoculars, bug container