WYLD offers custom programs for schools, agencies, and organizations who want to provide youth with leadership wilderness experiences. We customize the curriculum to your needs and provide food, gear, leaders, and transportation (where necessary). Custom programs can be designed as a one-day, overnight, an extended backcountry trip, or a combination of trips. You can also choose which areas to focus on from the following list.
Program Areas of Focus (you can choose more than one):
- Leadership and Team-building
- Map & Compass
- Local Ecology
- California Natural & Cultural History
- Service Learning
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Want to know more about our custom programs? Send us your inquiries using the form below.Send
Jacqueline Hernandez published Nature Improves Kids' Social Skills in Home 2017-02-06 19:28:57 -0800
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!
Our flagship program, Catapult, aims to mentor youth and keep them engaged in wilderness and career-interest opportunities through middle school, and some stay with us through High School. Student join us in the garden in 6th grade and are sent off with a backcountry trip after their eight grade year.
So what exactly does it mean to be a youth in Catapult?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Students begin their adventures while garden at Carver Middle School, they move to our annual camping trip Mono Lake trip and complete the program as eight graders. Along the way, participants become leaders who take ownership of their environment, community, themselves, education and future careers. Youth and mentors will work together on service learning projects, Leave No Trace ethos, recreation and leadership through hiking and backpacking, access to the outdoors, and caring for the environment, their communities, and each other.
Through the years Catapult participants challenge themselves and gain experience by climbing mountains.
This edible classroom at Carver Middle School is a firm introduction to Catapult’s fundamental concepts: wilderness, youth, leadership, and diversity. While they are on the “farm," students learn about nutrition & exercise, plant science, and service to others as they help choose what to plant, how to maintain the garden, enjoy the harvest, and share their work with their peers, families, and larger communities.
Farm-to-forest students are invited to monthly hikes in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles. During a brand-new hike each month, students learn to appreciate nature as they become more familiar with the sights and sounds of the wyld.
Photo: Students show off the "farm" harvest... they took 30 lbs of radishes home from the school garden that day!
A Word from Latasha Buck, Principal of Carver Middle School...
"Every week, students look forward to working in the garden and watching the fruits of their labor literally grow -- corn, pumpkins, herbs, flowers, etc! The garden reinforces community as our students share the garden's gifts with our staff and families.
Not only are our students learning about how to take care of our earth, but they are taking pride in the work they are doing in the garden. Our garden is also a space for our parent volunteers to give back to the school in a way that is accessible and fulfilling to them."
Par of WYLD’s program is to connect urban youth with mentors that foster personal growth through WYLDerness experiences. We have intentionally sought out U.S. Military Veterans as those mentors before and would love to continue to offer this opportunity to vets. For more information on this program component, visit our Veterans section. Many mentors help students develop navigation skills, physical endurance, survival skills, teamwork, cooperation, determination, self confidence and more. One of the most important roles of the mentor is to be consistent and show up for the youth. We do look for mentors who also come from the same communities that WYLD students are from.
How does it work? One mentor is matched with a group of 5 students. During WYLD hikes, backcountry adventures, and other field trips, each veteran provides support and guidance to his assigned group in coordination with the WYLD staff. They help plan, prepare, and execute all activities.
WYLD's guides & mentors pose celebration of hiking to a waterfall!
Backcountry Rite of Passage
The backcountry call to adventure is the capstone to Catapult members' time in middle school. This trip provides access to a fun challenge alongside the peers they've been with in WYLD since 6th grade. The challenge, sometimes well-understood through the metaphor of hiking a mountain, provides an opportunity to achieve heights and overcome obstacles that previously seemed insurmountable. Participants will enjoy the scent of the pine trees, tell stories over campfires, sleep under a starry night, and wade in alpine lakes. It's a beautiful setting for reflection and learning on their accomplishments thus far and what comes ahead. Once they return from the trip, participants will be a few weeks away from beginning high school and will be exposed to career paths related to their newly-developed passions. Past backcountry trips have brought kids to the alpine rivers of the Eastern Sierra Mountains, but may also include the Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino, San Jacinto, Joshua Tree and more.
Carrying your world on your own back... and feeling confident and comfortable while doing it!
In addition to outdoor experiences designed to strengthen a student’s awareness of their abilities, WYLD aims to expand upon those abilities by supporting youth in their career and educational interests. WYLD encourages youth to seek and push for their dreams, recognizing that different opportunities will best serve different students. WYLD will offer these services in partnership with other nonprofits and programs. Our commitment is to provide exposure and opportunities for youth, including:
Addressing the interest of the participant and offer guidance, transportation, exposure and assistance in gaining access to resources, companies, people and internships.
Assistance with college and university entrance processes, including communication, applications, financial aid forms, grants, and assistance with required essays.
- Internships and job opportunities in fields such as engineering, clean/green tech, forestry, or any other area of interest expressed by the participant.
Service-learning, in the words of the national Service Learning Clearing House, “is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” At WYLD leadership is a main component of service learning, and projects are identified, designed and carried out by youth with support from their mentors. Projects can be a year or many years long, depending on the interest of the students and needs of the community.
WYLD 7th graders learned about the importance of water conservation at the Catalina Environmental Leadership Program.
Junior Ranger (Peer to Peer Mentorship)
This feature allow older WYLD participants to mentor younger WYLD cohorts. A junior ranger is a peer leader who assists in education, guiding, and development of day hikes and even backcountry expeditions.
The Junior Ranger responsibilities include:
Motivating other youth to attend a day hike or expedition.
Speaking at orientation meetings and sharing experiences with families and prospective participants.
Planning and scouting trips with cohort members and for younger participants.
Participating in the pre-trip planning of their own and other trips.
In the WYLDerness:
Teaching navigation and other facets of the hiking program to younger participants.
Maintaining a positive attitude, following and shadowing the directions of the instructor.
Teach and support other participants with tent set up, gear functions, and general equipment usage.
Explain and guide activities, games, and journaling.
Varsity Rangers who have ‘graduated’ from junior rangers, who wish to design their own expeditions will:
Choose a location for an expedition, such as Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, or even just a day hike.
Identify participants to work with.
Design itinerary, activities, learning objectives, and identify least one service project.
Compute and complete budgets, including travel, park fees, food expenses, etc.
Fundraise and manage all business aspects of the trip.
Complete all pre-trip paperwork and logistics
Complete all post-trip paperwork and reflections.
Share expedition highlights and accomplishments with the community.
Maximize your impact in a few quick steps!
WYLD has just wrapped up a fruitful summer of programming and we couldn't be more thrilled! We'd love for you to help us spread the word by sharing your love for WYLD on email or social media.
As a WYLD supporter, you can create your own unique profile on wyld.org explaining why you love us!Start recruiting
WYLD formed out of a vision of founding members who wanted to bring accessible, affordable, and meaningful wilderness education to the youth of Los Angeles. Beginning in the summer of 2013, the founders began meeting regularly to form a vision and strategy to create an innovative model organization that would serve Los Angeles youth through a sister school program combined with veteran mentors.
Working with Carver Middle School in Los Angeles, WYLD began offering day-trip and extended trips to middle school youth. In our first year we served 42 students through our programs. And we took our first group of 15 students camping in Mono Lake in the Sierras in the summer of 2014. Our work with Carver Middle School laid a preliminary foundation for WYLD programming in Los Angeles.
WYLD is governed by our Board of Directors. On July 16, 2014 WYLD received its formal federal tax exemption status as a 501(c)3 organization. Our status provides the fiscal momentum necessary to move forward with our vision to serve Los Angeles youth through wilderness experiences.
In 2015, WYLD served 78 participants throughout the year. 25 of them came on our summer expeditions, they came through our afterschool program 106 times, they came through our day hikes 167 times and we averaged 10 youth a week in our afterschool program. We ran 26 total courses with over 37 course/program days. WYLD served 492 participant program days (the number of duplicated participants multiplied by days on course (trips/after-school)).
Other 2015 accomplishments include:
Launched a weekly after-school program at Carver Middle School from January 2015 – June 2015 that served 10 students a week and also took the students on day hikes.
Prepared for a January 2016 in-school garden program at Carver to serve 65 students a week.
Developed a relationship with a recovery program within the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration and began to take the vets out on hikes.
Established Vendor Status with Los Angeles Unified School District, in order to work directly on campuses.
Retained 18 students in our program from the previous year.
Took 12 returning students to Mono Lake Association for 5 days.
Partnered with an charter school agency for our first customized program, a backpacking expedition with 10 students. This expedition to the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains successfully launched our first backcountry trip.
Help me reach my goal!
Nature is one of our greatest teachers. Our California mountains and beaches hold many lessons for us: stories of generations past, of how plants, rocks, and animals came to be the way they are, of how we can all leave the world a little cleaner than we found it (and have fun doing it)!
But not every Angelenos finds this invaluable resource accessible. WYLD makes experiential nature education available to the LA youth that benefit from it the most. WYLD youth quickly fall in love with the great California outdoors.
I'd love for them to continue expanding their programming so they can offer more trips and teach more youth! I'm committed to fundraising $500 for WYLD. Please consider a contribution, any small amount helps!