Ventura Wild isn’t just a wilderness program!
MISSION: Ventura Wild creates meaningful outdoor experiences to reawaken an innate human affinity for Nature. We believe that a physical and emotional connection to Nature at an early age promotes basic principles of human development that inspire a sense of belonging, resiliency, and interdependence. Returning humans to our indigenous awareness, knowledge and skills are the first steps toward a life of sustainable relationships with each other, the self and the planet.
- To provide young people with time in nature through play and discovery based learning.
- To support parents in naturalizing the parenting and family experience.
- To give teachers the tools and confidence in nature based learning experiences.
- To create meaningful long term professional opportunities in the field of nature based education.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Benefits of Nature Education
- develop reflective and inquisitive thinking along with problem-solving approaches in ‘real’ situations
- encourage holistic development of children
- develop resilience and adaptability in occasionally adverse circumstances
- allow children to become more able to identify hazards and risks
- develop a love, appreciation and respect for nature and all that is living
- develop an understanding of how we can look after our environment
- develop self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem
- develop collaborative-working and communication skills
- provide positive health benefits – both physically and mentally – and assist gross and fine-motor development
- develop a lifelong love of the outdoors