Over the years there are several ideas that have become core to our youth programming:
- Relationship to our natural landscape. It is fundamental to a person's growth to form a real and lasting relationship with the natural landscape. For youth, this begins by having fun, playing, interacting, and exploring in the wild. Over the years these interactions will inspire and grow a solid ecological literacy that will foster a deep land ethic. It is imperative to our future to raise people with not only a love of the natural world, but who also have a rich understanding and knowledge of it.
- Meeting challenges. Growing our innate problem solving abilities, persistence and perseverance, self-confidence, as well as a passion for learning, are all elevated by being challenged. Learning to learn from failure is a key element to all of the skill sets we teach and we find this to be tremendously important in the development of strong and flexible character. Our goal is to create students empowered to learn whatever they desire, to know that with hard work, practice, and the right resources, they are capable of exploring the things that awe and inspire them.
- Encouraging curiosity. The desire to know, to understand, and to grow is a tremendous force that is often atrophied in highly structured programs. Although we carefully design our programs, a part of that design is allowing students to follow their passions, engage in self directed learning, and make real choices that effect their learning. In our experience, students are never more engaged, focused, and productive, then when they have a personal investment in learning driven by personal passion.
- Play and Imagination. We walk a delicate balance between allowing youth to approach learning in a serious way, and acknowledging the natural power of play and imagination. Most young mammals explore their world and learn the skills that will keep them alive through the vehicle of play. Although we do not focus our days around games and listening to stories, they are powerful tools that make learning effortless, unseen, and effect us to our cores. The best games and stories are often the ones the students create to meet their own needs. The games and stories of childhood are with most of us for the rest of our lives. The times that stuck with us, the lessons that mattered most, were often learned in play or through story.
- Strengthening Communication. Through team work and cooperation students learn self-expression and awareness of others people needs. We strongly encourage students to strengthen the community through honest communication and find it to be one of the most important skills that a human being can posses. If you can communicate about and with the things you love; your family, your friends, yours passions and dreams then you can grow those relationships. It is important to us that our students do not feel the need to fit any certain mold, and being able to speak your mind is an important part of being yourself in a group. Community for us is built through honest communication and the sharing of fun, hard work, challenges, successes and failures, and of course, a common goal.
It is our hope that through our programs children and teenagers grow. With growth we look for better, not perfect. We want our students to "Be more awesome."