What We Do:
We take our participants to resource-rich locations such as the creeks, beaches, mountain trails, and open spaces in Santa Barbara’s abundant front country. Our core routines include child-centered exploration, awareness, and the building of naturalist skills. We use a nature-based mentoring curriculum that combines experience in nature with a hands-on learning process. We also teach the “Principles of Peace,” which focus on conflict resolution, communication and peacemaking. The improved outcomes we have tracked for our participants include individual growth and self-assurance, interpersonal skills, physical competence and an increased respect for the natural world.
Our four-to-one youth-to-counselor ratio affords participants a high quality of mentoring typically unavailable in youth services. This low ratio along with the flexible nature of our programs allows for individualized attention. Through the course of a season children grow in agility, self-awareness, and social awareness. We operate with a long-term mentoring model and most of our participants return for multiple years. Wilderness Youth Project (WYP) promotes meaningful social change through an innovative, nature-based curriculum and mentoring program. Our programs return children to the traditions of childhood: outdoor time, child-centered exploration, skill/self-esteem development and connection with the natural world.
Why It Works:
Nature education during childhood has a potent impact on shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood. Nature stimulates powers of observation, creativity, and a sense of peace. Research shows that spending time in nature dramatically reduces children’s propensity for violence, stress, and symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
Who We Serve:
- 600 Santa Barbara County youth each year
- Over 60% of the youth and families received scholarship assistance