What kind of activities do you do with kids?
Our programs provide a return to the traditions of childhood: outdoor time, child-centered exploration, skill and self-esteem development, and connection with the natural world. Counselors facilitate a wide-range of activities including awareness games, storytelling, primitive skills including fire by friction and archery. We take time at the beginning of each day for gratitude circles and weave in opportunities to share highlights from the day (known as favorite part of the day or story of the day).
Where do you go?
We choose a different location such as local beaches, creeks, and open spaces such as Ellwood or Lake Los Carneros or into the local foothills. We will also go back to the Santa Ynez River or up to places like Lizards Mouth and Knapps Castle (on Camino Cielo). Check out our Places We Go section of our website for more specifics. We travel in 8-15 passenger vans. Knowledge of place is one of our core values, so we often return to the same location to continue to deepen our relationship to the plants, animals and landscapes of well-loved spots. Several of our programs are place based, meaning that they meet each week at the same place and do not use a van. During the school year this includes our Chickadees, Ojai and one Homeschool program. During summer, our Bumblebees groups stay at Rocky Nook park
What will my child learn with WYP?
The possibilities are endless and are guided by the curiosity of your child. Our focus on learning is for youth to gain an understanding of the natural world, empathy for each other and confidence of the self.
Participants learn the basic hazards of nature and how to stay safe in the wake of sun, water, poison oak, rattlesnakes, bees. Children have the opportunity to learn how to track animals, identify plants and trees through field marks and understand their edible/medicinal values. We often work on fire by friction and build a shelter, listen for bird calls and explore their meaning. We strongly believe that discovery of the answer is a far greater gift than the answer itself. Fueled by observation, field guides and thoughtful questioning we take the journey of discovery together, which opens up many more questions and creates life long learners. Through reflection and natural metaphors your child will gain valuable lessons in communication, teamwork, and empathy. We provide moments of play through group games and explorations as well as moments of self reflection through sit spots and sensory activities. More Parent Resources.
Do you hold program when it's raining?
Yes, we do! We love playing in the outdoors when it’s raining. It’s a time full of new smells, colors and changing landscapes. However, if the rain is coming down so hard that it poses a threat to safe driving or to our safety while out on the land, then we will call families a few hours in advance to let them know that there will not be program on that day. The call is usually made by 12 pm or 7:30 am for morning programs. You can always decide to not send your child on program on a rainy day if you are concerned about safety or about your child being exposed to too much time in the wet and cold.
Who is your staff?
Our staff are passionate about the natural world and many have years of experience working with kids. Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds. Most are naturalists, of course. Staff interests range from tracking, awareness skills to medicinal plant uses, and everything in between, such as friction fire, bow making and basketry. They all share a common love for the outdoors. The majority of our staff begin as volunteers and then develop into group leaders. All staff are at least CPR/first aid certified, most have Wilderness First Aid and some have Wilderness First Responder (from National Outdoor Leadership School). We fingerprint all our staff and volunteers. Staff who drive our 15 passenger vans hold a commercial B license and those driving our 8-passenger vans have regular driving record checks and receive internal training for safely driving vans with children. For more information on our staff please check out our Staff page.
What is your camper to adult ratio?
We have a 4:1 camper to adult ratio for most of our camps, and a 3:1 camper to adult ratio for Chickadees & Bumblebees. This allows for us to meet the needs of all children in the camp. While one child may want to sketch the track of a coyote, another may want to wander up the creek. Our low ratio of child to adults allows us the opportunity to do both activities.
What are your emergency procedures?
Our staff are all certified with CPR and first aid. In addition, most staff have Wilderness First Aid and some have Wilderness First Responder certification (from National Outdoor Leadership School). Our 4:1 child to staff ratio means we are able to manage risk effectively. Staff is equipped with a full first aid kit and are aware of the nearest hospital and clinic in case of emergency. Parents are contacted immediately in the case of emergency and if they are unavailable the emergency contact provided during registration will be called. Your child’s safety is important to us and we take all necessary precautions to insure a high level of adventure and fun while maintaining a high level of safety and risk management.
How does your pricing work? Are there scholarships available?
WYP offers program pricing that keeps our programs accessible to everyone. See our pricing guidelines.
WYP programs seem so expensive. How much does the camp actually cost?
The program fee represents the actual cost per camper for our program. In order to provide the “magic” of WYP we maintain a 4:1 ratio of youth to mentors. That ratio means we can do real mentoring and adventuring, safely and outside. Paying for two staff plus vans and insurance adds up. It also adds value!
Do you offer sibling discounts?
No, we do not offer sibling discounts. Our programs DO offer flexible pricing options based on your family’s ability to pay. See our program pricing guide for more information.
Are there any income level guidelines to help families choose payment level?
We ask families to pay as close to the program cost as you can afford. See our program pricing guide.
How are you considered a non-profit when there is a fee for your programs?
WYP is considered a fee for service nonprofit. A little over half of our funding comes from fundraised dollars, and half from program fees paid by parents/participants. We charge participants a program fee, while offering partial and often deep scholarships to mid and low income families. The program fee represents the actual cost of running a program.
What is your cancellation policy? Can I get my deposit back if I need to cancel?
We require families to pay their full program balance for any cancellations that happen within 5 working days of the start of a session. WYP staff will do everything possible to fill the spot, and if filled, you will only be charged the $30 non-refundable deposit. Though we do have waiting lists, people often make other plans and we can’t always fill a spot on short notice. Thanks for your understanding and support!
What summer camps do you offer?
We offer a variety of camps during summer. Learn more about our summer camps and more FAQs
What are the hours of school year programs?
Homeschool and Chickadees are 9 am to 1 pm. After school Drop-Off time is 3 pm and pick up is 6 pm (5:30 during daylight savings hours, PMJ & NWL Teen programs often end at 6:30 pm). Programs meet at many locations. See more details about School Year programs.
My child doesn't get out until after 3, can they still make it to the program?
Yes, many of our participants are in the same situation. We have free time including games and activities while we wait for families to arrive from school. Vans usually leave about 3:20 or 3:30 for the day’s location.
What does a typical school day program look like?
Each program begins with a thanksgiving circle where we have an opportunity to give gratitude and check in. We move onto something active that gives kids an opportunity for body awareness, animal understanding, and/or tactile exploration with skulls, tracks and other mysteries of nature. Once we are all warmed up we pile in our 8 or 15-passenger vans for an adventure in the local area. Each day there are elements of inspiration, skill focus, wandering/exploring, celebration, and storytelling. Places we go include local beaches, creeks, the Santa Ynez River, Lizard’s Mouth and the Pines on East Camino Cielo. Learn more about Places We Go).
What should my child bring?
Please pack lightly — kids carry their own packs. We ask that each day your camper shows up with:
1. Backpack (preferably with padded shoulders and not too big)
2. Bathing suit (for girls consider a two piece or swim shorts and rash guard–they are easier for using wilderness bathrooms)
3. Plenty of snacks. Kids get hungry on our programs!
4. Water bottle.
6. Clothes that can get dirty. Please have children arrive dressed in layers because SB’s weather changes so quickly, especially during the winter months.
7. Shoes that can get wet–water shoes or water sandals work great!
The rest is provided by our staff and all that surrounds us!