By 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...
TEN 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.Read more
WYLD 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!!
FOR PARENTS and PARTICIPANTS:
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. email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, July 20!!
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 email@example.com el 20 de julio.
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
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."
When we talk to people about WYLD's mission, connecting youth and veterans to wilderness experiences, they're sometimes curious as to how exactly immersion in nature enhances youth's personal growth. There are many avenues through which WYLD's program
encourages student development; we see how getting through tough hikes boost kids' self-confidence, how rising through challenges next to others helps them bond with new peers, and how solo hikes inspire a sense of awe in them. This LA Times article by Deborah Netburn explains an added benefit: improved understanding of social cues. Read on from the link below for this spectacular insight on how your children or students might benefit from nature experiences!
These shoes, many not made for walking, carried us 5.5 miles yesterday over some pretty scary terrain at times. The kids held each other's packs, hands, and and spirits. They encouraged each other verbally, physically and often. They tied each other's shoes. They were kind to each other, and they pushed themselves really, really hard. "I learned about myself that I'm really strong." "I learned that I can be scared and still keep going." I learned what Sage looks like." "I heard a stream. It sounds like loud air." "this trail is steep. I'm afraid to fall... but that's ok. (looking down at the lower switchback) then I'll just be closer to where we're going." "I can't even run two miles at school. I just hiked over 5. I should get some PE credit."
I learned that if a tenth grader can hike 5 miles in Doc Martens, she is really, really tough!
Best way to spend a Saturday!
Daria looked back up the 2 mile trail she just descended and was convinced she could not make it. Before she had even taken one step her breaths shortened, her body slung forward, and she was visibly worried and feeling anxious. Daria is a good student who likes to write and move around, but who does not get enough space to do so or exercise. She is smart and funny, but doesn’t have confidence when it comes to physical activities. Each step was a hardship often accompanied by “I can’t go on another step.’ And yet she managed to eak out just one more. When we neared the top of the trail head she looked back over the valley and asked, “Did we just come from there?” Did I just climb a mountain?” “I’ll need better shoes next time.” “...I’ve never been to Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm, and I’ve never been to a mountain.” I like mountains!”
Daria, like eleven year olds everywhere, are the future of this country and world. Integral to her own success is the success we have with mitigating loss and harm to nature. Daria learned a lot about herself that day on the trail, as did her peers, and she also made a connection to the wyld that could do more than just benefit her physically and mentally, but can also benefit all of us for generations to come. In order to understand nature and ourselves, we need a connection with mother earth, and ourselves.
*Names were changed to protect identities