Why we do this work:

If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”  (From Richard Louv’s book “Last Child Left in the Woods”

How we bring children and nature together:

Learning erupts organically as an intuitive interaction between adult, nature and child. This  is an approach of building relationships, moments of reflection and carefully guiding the learning process toward awareness, curiosity, practice and joyful play.

We honor the natural learning rhythms that mimic the natural world and couple that with nurturing the multiple intelligences of youth in a holistic and playful fashion. There are five core values that we cycle through in our teaching process:

Core Values

    1. Sensory Awareness: Sensory stimulation in a natural setting along with challenges that hone sensitivity toward being more fully alive and present in the moment provides the skills to manage risks, to experience the world deeply, and to connect with the state of nature and being natural.
    2. Mindfulness: Opportunities to focus, practice mindfulness skills, and interacting with complex systems are all lifelong skills. Experience individual and group outcomes in the moment through hands on explorations, projects and positive adult role modeling.
    3. Risk:  Self-reliance and group interdependence are both integral to growth and confidence building. Challenging ourselves to try climbing a tree, hopping to a rock, or just taking off shoes to walk barefoot can be a risk. Trusting our intuition, trusting our group and leaders, and speaking from a place of self reliance gives us all strength.  Sharing in problem solving activities and contributing to stories provides a sense of belonging, confidence and competence as an individual, part of a community and in connection to the larger world.
    4. Stewardship: Participate in local conservation projects, from picking up trash, removing invasive species, designing low water gardens and planting acorns and other native seeds are all examples of meaningful ways children can contribute in real ways to their world. Individual writing, artwork and other forms of expression can also influence our community, and children find empowerment and a voice for change by practicing and being heard. 
    5. Play: Just plain fun, joyful exuberant goofiness and all-out roll around in the mud or crashing into the water is what it all really comes down to. Nature connection is not a metaphor. It is literal, and a perfect learning and growing experience. Creating space, time and opportunities, guiding positive play skills while allowing for child led problem solving and conflict resolution. Allowing for curiosity, creativity and imagination without interruption or interference. Opportunities for independent play and also learning to contribute to group play.
“Coyote mentoring is the opposite of the education style we grew up with. Rather than presenting a child with a curriculum and trying to mold them to fit the information, coyote mentoring meets each child where they’re at. Then, it’s about finding the limit of their abilities, their awareness, their comfort zone, and gently – almost invisibly – coaxing them beyond the edge of what they know.” Coyote’s Guide to Mentoring Children in Nature by Ellen Haas, Evan McGown, and Jon Young
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Program Vision

  1. Bring nature connection to children and families as a way to build confident, happy, healthy and concerned citizens. 
  2. Ignite a joyful curiosity in learning by modeling natural learning rhythms, ecological systems and cycles, and place based, child centered explorations, facilitating discovery and growth as a person and as a people.
  3. Share connection and nature based learning pedagogy with other educators and parents.
  4. Find ways to share nature equitably among different cultures, languages, abilities and interests. 
  5. Develop more wild play spaces in our local communities available to kids…being kids.
  6. Build a sustainable Ventura Wild program.
  7. Add to the field’s credibility and professional excellence.