Connecting children and nature

About Wilderness Youth Project

WYP fosters a life-long love of learning through outdoor experiences.

Time in nature makes kids happier, healthier, and smarter. Wilderness Youth Project connects kids to nature in small groups guided by inspired, skilled, and committed mentors and volunteers. Mentors meet youth during the school day, after school, and summer for programs in different ecosystems throughout our area.

WYP aims to make nature available for all children, from preschool through high school. We make scholarships and subsidized community programs available because cost should not be a barrier to experiencing nature. At the heart of WYP is a belief that connection to the land is a birthright that belongs to all people from the beginning of time.



The mission of Wilderness Youth Project (WYP) is to foster confidence, health, and a lifelong love of learning for young people and families through active outdoor experiences and mentoring.


Wilderness Youth Project envisions teaching the next generation of children to be peaceful, respectful and confident stewards of our world.

We believe all children need nature.

Our curriculum is built on self-directed exploration, games, awareness practices, naturalist skills, inquiry-based learning, and storytelling. We don’t offer “field trips” or one-time outings. Instead, participants are with us many times over the course of a season, deepening connections with themselves, the group, their mentor, and the places we go.

At WYP, children...

  1. Play, learn, and grow in Santa Barbara’s natural beauty
  2. Adventure and explore for more green time, not screen time
  3. Gain confidence, a heart for adventure and caring for others
  4. Have experiences that will help them grow up healthy and happy

We are deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

All children need nature. Not just the ones whose families have the privilege and easy access to nature. Not only those of a certain race or economic class or culture or gender or sexual identity or language or set of abilities. Every child and every family.

WYP is committed to learning and growing our ability to live the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Our organization works hard to create programs that are diverse and inclusive, where students of all classes, races, backgrounds, abilities, and identities can feel a sense of belonging.

Meet the people behind WYP.

Wilderness Youth Project began in 1999.

WYP is a team of inspired, skilled, and committed mentors who love to spend time outdoors. We are made up of caring adults who tend to each child individually. We believe that connection to the land is a birthright that belongs to all people from the beginning of time. Since 1999 we have connected thousands of kids to nature. Today we get outdoors year-round, serving 1,200+ kids each year.