Our programs are designed to connect children to nature through joyful explorations, activities that explore senses and creativity, and our focus is on social emotional connections to self, each other and the natural world.

Programs include:

  • Nature therapy with therapist in field
  • Preschool ages – 2 – 5 times a week
  • Bilingual
  • Homeschool
  • After School
  • School based field trips
  • Summer Camps: week-long day camps and backpacking adventures
  • Family events, hikes  & workshops

A Typical Day

Programs are generally once a week for 2 – 4 hours a day, and run for 8 – 12 weeks long. Groups are 8 – 12 people with 2 – 3 instructors, or a 4:1 kids to adult ratio.

(1-2 weeks prior to first class, parents receive an email with location, directions, what to bring and more program information)

  • Drop-off and games to get the wiggles out and build group cohesion.
  • OPENING CIRCLE – Share appreciations and set safety agreements, share our daily theme and options, introduce a skill or activity. Sometimes broken up with games. Water, snacks and bathroom breaks as needed.
  • EXPLORING might include tracking, foraging, mapping, treasure hunts, finding mysteries…endless possibilities. 
  • 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. 
  • SKILLS: Skills are introduced and time is provided for a variety of skill options to continue throughout the program. Kids may work on one project all 8 weeks, or try a new skill each day.
  • SNACK: A time is set aside to sit and eat, drink water and be in community celebrating food and place.
  • EXPLORING – More exploring and an opportunity to more deeply observe, record, experiment, hypothesis and discuss information or stewardship ideas. 
  • CLOSING CIRCLE – includes sharing a personal “story of the day” or an appreciation…and whatever else needs to happen: Maybe a song or story or show and tell.
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CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT

After a few seasons kids might feel like they have “done this already”. Kids might want new locations and activities, or more challenging skills and adventures. The Intermediate Skills courses are meant to accommodate the “next level”, providing more challenge, information and experiences that meet these needs. Summer is also a chance to go deeper into nature connection experiences, building friendships and exploring our local environments that we can’t get to during an after school program.

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
Because the methods suggested in this book have been field-tested for decades – in truth, for thousands of years – this guide should become an essential resource for anyone who wants to revive their sense of kinship with nature but needs some help. This is good medicine for nature-deficit disorder.~ Richard Louv, author of the national bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder

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?

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.

SUMMER CAMPS
Week-long day camps, each day visiting different wild places to explore and learn about our local ecosystems. Usually involving creeks or swimming holes, and always a fun opportunity to be with friends and deepen the programs we offer during the rest of the year.
Forest Preschool Program
100% outdoor time experiencing the world and other children. Whole body natural learning rhythms that allow children to discover themselves, each other and the planet.
School Based Programs
We are offering teachers and schools outdoor education programs that we can design with the teachers, creating the time, location and content that best meets the needs of the teacher’s goals. Contact us at heather@venturalandtrust.org, or 805-310-1461.
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.
Homeschool Programs
Same core routines with extended time to deepen the exploration, discovery and opportunity for projects.
Bilingual Programs
We are adding programs in Spanish as fast as we can. Fluent Spanish speaking children can enjoy our FOrest Preschool Program and a Ninos y Naturaleza after school program, and we are hoping to offer a garden program as well.
Nature Therapy
Through the Children’s Therapy Network, we are collaborating to provide joyful nature discovery time with the support of a trained licensed therapist. We have designed a unique blend of discovery based programs that support the social emotional wellness of children in need.
Girl’s Rites 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. 
Boys & Girls Club
We are beginning our collaboration with the local Boys & Girls Clubs, offering subsidized programs in local neighborhoods that focus on our core routines within neighborhoods and exposing children to new nature destinations with tools for safety, responsibility and confidence.