Adelante & McKinley Youth Campout at Quail Springs Permaculture
Water in the desert, goat walks, sleeping under the stars: camping helps young people release stress, experience happiness, and feel more alive.
Each May, WIlderness Youth Project invites youth participating in our Bridge to Nature subsidized programs to join a camping trip. This year, we combined our groups from Adelante Charter and McKinley Elementary and 15 young people joined 5 WYP mentors for a 3 day, 2 night camping adventure at Quail Spring Permaculture in the Cuyama Valley. Read on for some highlights and pictures from the weekend together.
Enjoy lots of photos from the trip.
What We Learned Together
We know that spending time in nature, alongside peers and caring adult mentors, provides a wonderful environment for young people to learn and grow. Camping together for multiple days creates even more opportunities for positive changes in self-confidence, mental health, and overall well-being. Kids gain valuable self-sufficiency skills, such as food preparation, safety, clean-up, personal hygiene, and getting enough shade, water, and sleep. Additionally, the dynamics among peers become increasingly important for 11 and 12-year-olds, and during the camping experience, we witnessed substantial learning and personal growth as your children worked together on camp chores, games, and conflicts. Plus, camping is just fun! That’s why it helps young people release stress, experience happiness, and feel more alive.
Water in the Desert
Quail Springs Permaculture is in the Cuyama Valley - in the high desert. Although the youth said it was too hot in the day and too cold at night, the weather was perfect for early summer in the desert (low 80s in the day and 50s in the night). The spring was still flowing so we walked to where the waters were flowing several times during the trip and found plenty of clay to bring back to camp for craft time.
When we were up near the softly flowing spring on Sunday, we found the herd of goats and their tenders (1 human, 2 dogs) and we walked up the valley with them, learning what they liked best to eat and helping harvest tasty treats that we could hand feed them. We were especially interested in how the goats loved the yucca plant’s fresh flower shoots. We grilled some on our campfire as well and the kids eagerly tried it and many said they thought it was delicious. Right before going to bed, we also got to try fresh goat’s milk brought over to us directly from the farm!
Your children learned to camp in extremely rustic settings! There is no running water at the campsite and we brought in all drinking water from the farm nearby. Many of us also learned how to use a composting toilet for the first time (no flush toilets) and many youth reported how challenging it was to not take a shower for 2 days. There are also no kitchen facilities at the camp, so we brought all the gear needed to set up our camp kitchen and did a lot of cooking over the fire. We slept out on large tarps instead of in tents, which means we were more exposed to the dew and the cold - and to the wide night sky filled with stars, planets and the half-moon.
Visiting the Farm
Our campsite was about a 10 minute walk from the main farm and residential area. We spent much of Sunday afternoon exploring the lush gardens, playing in the sprinklers, learning about how to farm in the desert and harvesting manzanilla (camomile) flowers to use for tea (which we shared later in the evening around a campfire). Visiting the baby goats was a highlight for everyone! Our leader Sofia created a treasure hunt with clues carefully placed around the farm with a prize of s’mores supplies at the end.
Time for Slowing Down
One of the best parts about camping is having more time; more time to laugh and talk with friends, more time to explore, more time to play games and more time to just relax. Ask your children about the game “Beckon” - which many of us played for over an hour around camp. Maybe you can play it the next time you are outside together.
Questions To Ask Your Children (Conversation Starters)
- What was something that surprised you about camping with WYP?
- What was the campsite like?
- Did you have a favorite part of the trip?
- Was anything about it hard?
- Did you see or hear any animals?