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Connecting with the Angeles National Forest @ Chilao Campground

How do we connect with nature?IMG_0977.jpgWe jump on in and embrace the unfamiliar. We took our first camping trip of the year at Chilao campground up Highway 2. And, as usual, it took TEAM WORK! Jeremy and Journy arrived early to secure a site, and Jess and Sonja collected the kids and the gear and we headed up the mountain. 

We've discovered that Chilao tends to clear out every morning and then fill up again starting around 10 am. So, by that stroke of luck we got a great site with tall conifer trees, that circled a  perfect rocky hill between us and the other side of the campground. This was important for our end-of-evening game of student-invented tag. How do you connect with nature? You play in it. You hide in the dark, you run after your friends, in the dark, and you use your headlamp to help you navigate the un-even terrain. You heighten your awareness of yourself and nature by using all your senses to explore the natural world.

The first day we busted out of our "van ride up" and "tent set up mode" to hit the trail. We found a nearby trail to travel which warmed us up for the next day's peak exploration up Mt. Waterman. We were met with some extraordinary views! 

Mt. Waterman was a great hike, and the second time for at least three participants. We trekked about 8 miles round trip, and got about 8 minutes of sun perfectly timed to thawus out during lunch. Nothing like chilly weather to motivate you back onto the trail. We headed back into camp around 5 pm, and got the fire and dinner going. 

The first night was cloudy, but the second night the clouds cleared and we were able to look at the moon through our telescope. Then we each took a turn setting up the telescope and focusing it on the celestial entity we wanted to explore. The night sky was amazing, and a bit misleading, as just after we slipped off to sleep fierce winds blew into camp and we got to 'embrace' the movement of air at a pace that was definitely trying.  Having not slept well because our rain flaps flapped at our doors all night long, we all pitched in to help clean out our site, pack our tents, and kitchen, and gear and head down the mountain. Every kid stepped up to help, and took breaks when needed with freezing fingers and runny noses (why do our noses run in the cold?) and every kid stepped up to help without being asked. It was a well organized machine in the face of windy adversity, and just goes to show that the challenges we face from the natural world can also be our best teachers, and can provide opportunities to help us meet our best selves. 

We connect with Mother Earth because she provides the lessons, the resources and the love we need to challenge ourselves, to relax, to play, and to use all our senses. 

We'll be back soon. 

Thanks to Lead Mentor Jeremy for the great photos, and Lead Mentor Jess for the amazing shot of Grandmother Moon! 

Thanks to the kids who took the leap to come along, and their parents who took the leap to trust us. Thanks to everyone who donates to make this all happen, and thanks to nature for being the best teacher, EVAH!

Click below to see more pictures and a stunning shot of the moon!

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Nature is Restorative, and Trees are Talking!


When WYLD first got the garden going at Carver, our idea was a way to reach the kids in order to hand out forms and recruit them for he weekend forays into the natural zones around Los Angeles. We also knew gardening and understanding where one's food comes from was important, but there were other benefits we did not foresee right away. What we found was that on a campus that is mostly asphalt, the garden also served as a calm environment where kids could relax, and they visibly did so. We also found that the connections the youth made from the garden to the walking trails were deep and exponential. We were sold on the gardening program. And while WYLD is definitely vested in kids learning the flora and fauna of the natural spaces we visit, and the history of the native people who live and used thrive here, we also know that some benefits don't need to be extrinsically taught. Here is an article further supporting what many already know, about Nature as 'Therapy." 

"…more than 50% of people live in urban areas (increasing to >70% by 2050). Increased urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Growing up in a rural setting correlates with a less acute stress response, and exposure to greenspace significantly correlates to a positive effect on well-being in a large two-decade study. Images and sounds of a natural environment can decrease stress in people exposed to negative stimuli. A large survey of mental health and neighborhood greenspace in Wisconsin showed significant correlation between the availability of nature and lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. There are many studies showing a similar relationship between nature exposure, relaxation, and well-being. But how does exposure to green space help us relax and unwind, exactly?"

Find out HERE. 

And as we modern humans work to regain our understanding and connections with nature, we found this article on how trees talk, and how we can hear them. As we work to heal our relationship with nature, and each other, we like the idea of learning from the trees, who are the very givers of the air we breath. 

"I want to change the way you think about forests. You see, underground there is this other world, a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate and allow the forest to behave as though it’s a single organism. It might remind you of a sort of intelligence."

Learn more about this network of roots and fungi HERE.

Happy Nature Walking. See you out under a tree! 



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Fossil Finding at Latigo Canyon

Fossil_Hunting.jpgWe had fun exploring the past in the Santa Monica mountains last month! In fact, we've headed out with two groups to this site thus far, and we'll be back for more. We especially love having expert guidance from two USC students took us on a paleontological and geological trek back into the Miocene epoch to find fish and other sea-dwelling crawlers back when the Santa Monica mountains were still the ocean floor. 

Slide show HERE!

Where? Latigo Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains just West of Kanan Dr. Drive about 7 miles from PCH on Latigo Canyon, park in the dirt lot on the left, and walk 2 miles to the fire road. Head west on the fire road to the easy-to-find dirt plateau just up the road, have some lunch, and then get your hand lens out and start exploring the crumbly hill along the trail. You won't be disappointed!!!!

Next up, we tie it all together with a trip to the Palos Verdes tide pools to explore the present ocean-dwellers and see if we can identify any similarities. 

And stay tuned for upcoming Leadership projects the kids are coming up with help solve problems they have identified. :)

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Saturday's Upcoming Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains 1/6/18


 Our first adventure of the new year is a leadership hike with our first-ever round of WYLD participants who are now tenth graders, with long-time parent volunteer Lizz! If we have time we'll be checking out the Lake Shrine on Sunset and finding tacos on PCH! 

Where: Santa Ynez Canyon Trail, from the trail head at 17461 Vereda de la Montura rd in Pacific Palisades. 

When: Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm

What: We'll be taking the Santa Ynez Canyon trail to Sunset Rock for lunch, and on to Eagle Rock for desert. :)

Who: WYLD Junior Rangers in training. 

Focus: Map and navigation;  Flora, Fauna and Natural History; Leave No Trace principles. 

Want to do this hike on your own? Here is a link to Hikespeak that gives lots of details. Parking is free, and so is this hike.


Flora: Manzanita Shrub (Little Apple, in Spanish); Habitat: Chaparral, rocky slopes and ridges; Flowers November to February, but who knows what is going on with this crazy weather. Berries were/are used for food and tea. 

Two Types:

Eastwood Manzanita: Has hairs covering terminal parts (ends, for any kids reading) of its branches and leaves. 


Bigberry Manzanita:More tree-like than Eastwood, and bigger leaves and berries. 



Did you know that Los Angeles is only one of two major metropolises in the world that has lions within it's boarders? It's true. Mumbai in India in the only other one.  The most famous L.A. Puma is P-45, a large male that prefers to on the meat of pigmy goats of the rich and famous. Also true. Read up on S.M. Mountain pumas HERE! And here's an interesting, more lengthy article from the New Yorker on our very own P-45



First Peoples

Native American Indians have lived in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding area for over 10,000 years. Though of different languages and tribes, they lived a similar lifestyle based on the abundant food and materials provided by the environment. They fished in the ocean, hunted rabbits and deer in the canyons, and gathered acorns from the oak woodlands. Prosperous and industrious, the tribes who inhabited the mountains lived in the center of a network of commerce that extended up and down the coast, west to the Channel Islands, and inland to Arizona. Today we know the descendants of these people as the Chumash in the western and the Tongva in the eastern portions of the mountains. (Info from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy). 

Geology of the Santa Monica Mountains

  • The Santa Monica Mountains are a geological unit of the Transverse Mountain Ranges of Southern California.
  • The Santa Monica Mountains are a part of the only east-west belt of mountains in California and one of only two in North America so oriented.
  • The Santa Monica Range is a broad anticline that has been severely ruptured by faulting and intruded by sills and dikes.
  • The Santa Monica range is bisected by the flow of water that flows through Malibu Canyon.
  • Malibu Creek is thought to have flowed in its present course before the mountains existed.
  • The main fault of the Santa Monica Mountains is the Malibu Coast Faultt.
  • The Santa Monica Mountain Range is a result of the interactions between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.
  • The Pacific Plate's crust is oceanic and composed of basalt, which is denser than continental crust.
  • The Pacific Plate subducts under the North American Plate.
  • The Pacific Plate moves north, and the North American Plate moves south; a strike slip plate boundary.
  • The area where the two plates slip past each other is called the San Andreas Fault.
  • Geologic maps help us understand the geology of the mountains.
  • Geologic profiles provide a view at what might be beneath the ground.
  • Other geology resources.
  • (source csun.edu)



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Inaugural Sister Schools Trip, Delphinus Science School

Screen_Shot_2017-11-06_at_6.09.06_PM.pngBy Sonja Williams July, 2017. WYLD partnered up with Delphinus School of Natural History's Marine Biology day camp for a week of science, exploring, adventuring and socializing. We set up camp at Cero Alto Campground in the Los Padres National Forest and commuted each morning to the Morro Bay Marina to meet up with the other campers, aged 6 to 13. This was an amazing trip on so many levels.

     We arrived Sunday night after spending a few hours at El Capitan State Beach for lunch, and John Sanders, Delphinus' camp director, met us at camp to get our exploring juices going with a telescope. After setting up tents and inviting him to dinner, he invited us to look closely at the moon. Thanks John for the telescope, we'll be hunting stars all year in the Angeles Forest!
     The first two days we kayaked through the estuary and hung out on the sand spit dunes all day meeting from a distance, sea otters, sea lions, turkey vultures, cormorants, and all manner of mud-flat dwelling gastropods, oysters, and hermit crabs. The great thing about the way John runs his camp is that he gives the kids a lot of free time to explore and come up with questions. The kids learned a lot, and they got to socialize with kids from the Morro Bay area and hang out, as kids are want to do, during summer vacation. It was a very special week. WYLD girls rose to the fore as leaders the first day out when John paired them with the younger kids to lead in kayaking and exploring the dunes. As a result, the little kids really glommed on to our girls, especially Dryam, and sat on their laps, held their hands, and constantly asked for them. Kids were given lots of time to swim in the ocean, dig in the sand, explore the sea shore and marvel at the big and little animals we encountered. They got to nap on the beach, chat in the dunes, and even collected drift wood and built an "Open House" for us all to sit in. The Open House, they explained, is a place that is open to EVERYONE! Then, on an overcast beach on Thursday afternoon, the girls circled up inside this Open House with most of the other campers and initiated a "one thing you're grateful for," conversation, complete with talking stone. The little kids sat on the big kids' laps, and WYLD girls directed the show. No adult had a dry eye, and John took lots of great pictures! 
     After working up an appetite playing, learning, and exploring, WYLD  board member and friend Julie Ward led the girls in cooking dinner every night with the help of intern and sous-chef Sandra, with an emphasis on plant-based foods, which is Julie's specialty. The girls learned to experiment with spices, how to chop veggies, and how to season and make sauces and garnishes. We even cooked an entire meal of potatoes, yams, and onions directly in the fire - the very definition of hot mess. We ate like queens and learned a lot about proper diet, nutrition, and how to make healthy food taste super delicious. Every morning we would wake up, make our lunches, prepare the herbal sun tea to brew while we were out, and head out to camp by 8:00 am. I think sun tea will become a WYLD staple on all over night trips from now on, thanks Julie! Good thing we have a garden for growing herbs! 
     Wednesday night we veered from plant-based treats after dinner to that good ol' camping tradition: S'mores. This was a first for many, and the glee was palpable. And since we like firsts, Thursday night we headed 3 miles up the mountain from our campsite to watch the sun set over the bay and Morro Rock, our home away from home. On the descent, headlamps aglow, we met some of the mountain's night-dwelling organisms: 1 tarantula; way too many scorpions;  and 1 beautiful, brown-banded California King snake. The next morning we washed away the creepy crawlies by going whale watching. Humpback whales sure know how to entertain, and we learned smell pretty bad as well.  Who knew?  Finally, not finally,  it was time to go home, and it was a bitter-sweet goodbye to our new friends from Morro Bay, and our fearless leader John. We hugged it out at the beach, went back to camp, and then spent the last night exploring the town of Morro Bay, being goofy, reveling in our new perspectives on the ocean and ourselves, talking, and eating an ice cream cone, of course!  We promised we'd be back, and we plan to... 


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The Bridge to SOMEWHERE

Screen_Shot_2017-10-26_at_10.59.40_AM.pngTEN MILES! 11 years old! In point of fact one of the main purposes of WYLD's mission is to foster the abilities of the kids we adventure with. We do this by NOT underestimating them. Often times our young adventurers are underestimated in school, by society, and by themselves. A ten mile path along a mountain stream with a destination to a bridge that goes nowhere, is the world's best provider of "yes you can!" We provide the cheerleading and the ride,  but the kids do the work. If you hike five miles into a place without roads, you must hike five miles back out again. If you are tired when you start back out after lunch and think you can't make it, you soon realize that after a mile your energy returns and it won't be 5 miles of torture. This lesson of 'will', provided under the watchful eye of several Desert Big Horn sheep, delves deeper than chapter three, paragraph four of one's history text book. You learn something about yourself. You gain a tool for your tool box. The swimming hole of a mountain stream on a hot Saturday afternoon is the perfect playground to learn social skills and test out one's humor while frolicking with one's peers. No console or screen required. The granite rock striations that wallpaper one's path are the perfect introduction to the mysteries of earth's forces and phenomenon, and one's place in a big, big world.  Learning that big horn sheep live only an hour from where you live adds a bit of wonder to daily life, and piques one's interest for "what else?" When you sit down under a tree in the shade with no one else's agenda to follow you learn a bit of independence and you get to be quiet. Or not. Last Saturday the 'Bridge or Bust' crew was led by one of WYLD's most dedicated guides, a young man who holds a huge passion for the wilderness and all it's potential to foster one's ability, and a man who does NOT underestimate the abilities of his charges. WYLD is guided by the mentors that guide the youth. We all chip in, but an important part of the equation to 'ability fostering' is having the youth see themselves in their guides and mentors. One of our goals in the coming year is to increase the number of capable young guides on staff so that we can increase programming and get more youth in touch with their potential, their abilities and the natural wonders of flora, fauna, and themselves. The educational gap, and I would argue the disparity gap, we see in schools in particular, can be filled most efficiently with experiences. Experiences are our true teachers, and from that tool box we can access what we need to get where we want to be. We don't lack experiences because we are incapable of having them. The ability is there. Sometimes we just need a ride. To somewhere. 

Photo by Cassie Rivkin. Guiding by Jeremy Rogers. 

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Saturday, October 14th, BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

Screen_Shot_2017-10-12_at_4.09.13_PM.pngWYLD is starting the fall hiking season off adventurously with our annual hike to the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE!We recommend this 10 mile round trip hike along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, home to Desert Big Horn Sheep, and we bet you'll see some, along with lots of river crossings, desert flora, and fauna, and if you're lucky - Mountain Lion or Bear tracks. But don't worry, the mega fauna are shy and this trail is popular in the day time, so chances of seeing an actual bear or mountain are slim to none.

Mountains: The San Gabriels

Trail: East Fork Trail, which follows the East Fork of the San Gabriel River

Forest information: The Sheep Mountain Wilderness, and Angeles National Forest. 

Parking: You will need an "adventure Pass" for parking, obtainable at any ranger station, and many nearby gas stations, and REI, etc. Also, the lot fills up quickly, so the earlier you get there, the better. 

This hike is worthwhile even if you don't make it to the bridge. There are lots of places to have lunch, and even pan for gold.  

Want to know more about how to get there? This site has lots of great details: https://modernhiker.com/hike/hiking-the-east-fork-of-san-gabriel-river-to-the-bridge-to-nowhere/

Here is some fascinating history of why the bridge goes, well, NOWHERE, and why so many people think this destination is somewhere! http://www.weirdus.com/states/california/roadside_oddities/bridge_to_nowhere/index.php

Want help us help urban youth get out and into the WYLDS of nature? You can donate at www.wyld.org and THANKS!!


1. You've turned in all forms and your story, RIGHT? Ok, let's get hiking!

  • Meet in front of Carver at 7 am. We will return at 7 pm.
  • Please remember to bring a healthy lunch and snacks, and remember no candy, gum, soda or electronics, except cameras or phones in 'airplane' mode for pictures. 
  • Wear a HAT, Shorts, bring a sweatshirt, and comfy shoes that can get dirty. We like running-type shoes. 
  • Bring a school-type backpack with a pen and pencil, but no other school supplies needed. 

We can't wait to adventure with you!!!!!

Please contact us with questions at any time. info@wyld.org

Thank You!

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San Luis Obispo Delphinus Science Camp Forms!!

Click on the links below for the San Luis Obispo Science Camp forms!! You can turn in the forms at the Carver M.S. main office by July 19, or take a picture of the filled out forms and e-mail them to sonja@wyld.org by Thursday, July 20!!


Medical forms: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_WoQtfwTPhCZ1E2TllvTWhVdDg/view?usp=sharing

Liability form: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6f43B2ZvsyzU1RnX2VsQ1NSeVU/view?usp=sharing

Delphinus School Registration and Consent form: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzMa1QAlsg6TSmtWOWtPU3poLVE/view?usp=sharing

Haga clic sobre los enlaces abajo para las formas del campamento de ciencia en San Luis Obispo!! Puede entregar las formas por julio 19 a la oficina principal de Carver, o puede tomar una foto de las formas rellenadas y mandarlas por correo electrónico a sonja@wyld.org el 20 de julio.


Formas médicas: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-TCdwX-YwUrUlh0VnZqZTlxUkk/view?usp=sharing

Forma de responsabilidad: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6f43B2ZvsyzSEx4NTZWdndCc0k/view?usp=sharing

Formas de Registración y Consentimiento de la Escuela Delphinus: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzMa1QAlsg6TUTE3SExvWXNsQzA/view?usp=sharing

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LAX VAN Rental.... New Rockstar Sponsor gets WYLD Moving... literally! ;)

Thanks LAX Van Rental for helping to solve the major problem in getting youth outdoors...  transportation!!!

Thanks for getting us MOVING!!!

"According to Outsiders [Foundation Study], the primary reasons why more young people aren’t spending time outdoors include indoor technologies; time management issues; ... and the lack of transportation."





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