OUR MISSION STATEMENT:

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.

OUR PROGRAMS: We do a lot of playing, a truly present, child centered exploration 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.

OUR STAFF: The Ventura Wild staff acts as mentors, educators and leaders, shifting with the individual and group needs and interests. It is a truly magical experience for all involved.

OUR GROUPS: The adult to participant ratio is 1:4. This ratio is due to the wild nature of our programs. Our goal of building security and connections through tree climbing, rock walking, swimming holes, creeks, rivers and the ocean is often met through personal relationships over time.  The group sizes are 8 – 12 children.  The lead staff make the program daily plans, coordinate with co leaders, and is the point person on communicating with the parents and program director and emergency response. 

OUR CONTENT: We have curriculum developed specifically for place based and group specific needs, flexible to the weather, group inspirations and teachable moments that flow from spontaneous awareness. Kids often find ways to bring in their own interests, and that may be art, math, science, poetry, songs, 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 with Nature.

OUR LOCATIONS: Our goal is to introduce people to their local wild places, investigating ecosystems that are familiar and connecting to the smells, colors and ecological systems and cycles that sustain life all around us. We visit neighborhood parks, local watersheds, and neighborhood gardens. We might be at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, the Ventura Land Trust, the Los Padres National Park or just kicking around a local county or state park.

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OUR HISTORY:  Founded in 2009 by professional outdoor educator Heather King and local parents Rita Maes and Alison Bradley, and with support from Sara Benjamin, another outdoor educator. Ventura Wild began under the non-profit umbrella of Oak Grove School, a private school located in Ojai, California, offering 2-3 weeks of day-camps in the summer. Heather King worked as director and lead instructor to build the program and the staff. In 2014, in an effort to expand into other seasons and to reach the broader communities of Ojai and Ventura County, the program moved to the umbrella of the Ojai City Recreation Department, which offered our programs year-round as part of their recreation activity guide.  Growing from 2-3 programs a year to as many as 40 programs annually, Ventura Wild became an even stronger organization with committed leaders, strong content and a strong vision to bring nature connection to our local communities long term. In 2020 we made the move to a non-profit parent organization, the Ventura Land Trust in order to raise money for scholarships, diversity and capacity building. Our mentor organization, Wilderness Youth Project in Santa Barbara, continues to offer their support as we grow and evolve. We have received “miracle grants” from Patagonia for scholarships and many families contribute toward scholarships as well.