OUR PROGRAMS: Our programs are designed to build connections and friendships. We work hard to maintain continuity and allow for a natural deepening of experiences and learning over time together, pursuing questions, challenging ourselves and finding edges of adventure, skills and knowledge. We do a lot of playing, and we work hard at creating truly free, totally present and child centered play that provides endless learning opportunities. We also guide and facilitate intentions and awareness by gently offering stories, games, activities and simply modeling our own curiosity and enthusiasm. The Ventura Wild staff acts as mentors, teachers and leaders, shifting with the individual and group needs and interests. It is a truly magical experience for all involved.
The leader to participant ratio is 1:4. This ratio is due to the goal of building connections, and to the wild nature of our program including tree climbing, rock walking, swimming holes, creeks, rivers and the ocean. The group sizes are 8 – 12 children. The lead staff make the program daily plans, coordinates with co leaders, and is the point person on communicating with the parents and program director and emergency response.
We have curriculum developed specifically for place based and group specific needs, and flexible to the weather, staff inspirations and teachable moments that flow from spontaneous awareness and possibility. Kids often find ways to bring in their own interests, and that may be art, science, poetry, storytelling or other areas of focus. We are always amazed at how much children grow as learners and as humans when they are alive in the moment.
All programs from fall – spring are once a week for 8 weeks, with varying hours, days, and times.
- Parent child programs for ages 2 – 4
- Home School programs for ages 5 – 15 (Split into age range)
- After School programs ages 6 – 15 (Split into locations in and near Ventura or Ojai)
- Weekend family hikes, kid adventures and night hikes
- SUMMER CAMPS: Summer camps are 1 – 2 week-long day camps, split into age ranges, and varying hours depending on ages. For ages 10 and up we have some backpacking and overnight options. Children can progress each year to the next level of activities, building in depth, scope and challenge yet seeped in the growing foundation of skills and relationships built each year.
Typical Program Schedule (Fall to Spring Programs)
Programs are conducted in local wilderness areas, primarily property open to the public owned by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, the Los Padres National Forests, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, State and County Parks.
We start our day with an opening circle where we share appreciations, agreements and games. We introduce a skill through a game or activity, and we do some exploring and wandering that might lead to practicing a skill, introducing questions and ideas, or working on awareness and observation skills.
We always have an activity that brings kids into a quiet alone time to be in nature one on one, and then we have time to share stories about our experiences. Kids may be working on a project such as friction fire, orienteering, shelter making or whittling, and we are always waiting for a bird, snake, track or scat to lead us into more questions and understanding. Everyday ends with a closing circle where we share best moments or unanswered questions, and the group often goes home with things to ask their parents or research.
We are always adding challenges, depth, layers of experiences and always listening to the kids.
We build relationships as a group and with individuals and as the time passes there are problems to solve, communication issues, frustrations, amazing discoveries and celebrations.
Most programs offer some kind of celebration at the end for parents to observe and participate in the experiences of their children.