The Vashon Wilderness Program’s curriculum allows students to experience a powerful set of nature skills that awaken a deep understanding and relationship with the natural world. Through core routines, skill-building projects, storytelling and play, our youth develop confidence and proficiency in key interconnected areas of learning:
Nature Awareness and Knowledge of Place. Learning core routines of awareness, students awaken their senses to guide them into multi-sensory relationships with the natural world. They begin to see like the owl, hear like the deer, smell like the dog, and touch like the raccoon in order to identify nature’s hazards and connect more deeply with her gifts.
Mammals and the Art of Tracking. Students practice the art and science of animal tracking – interpreting patterns of life. They learn strategies of animal movement and behavior, as well as to move through the landscape as a native tracker in order to unravel the mysteries of tracks and sign left behind by wildlife.
Plants, Trees, and Ecological Principles. Students learn field identification of native plants and trees so they can gather and prepare wild plants to use for food, medicine, and tools, as well as how to use trees as tools for survival.
Landscape Navigation and the Art of Wandering. Students practice techniques to get around with and without maps, including aidless navigation and songline.
Survival & Wilderness Living Skills. Indigenous living skills are practices to help students survive outdoors. Youth build shelters from natural materials, locate and purify water, create fire from friction, make bows, and learn wilderness crafts.
Birding and Bird Language. Students learn to move gracefully and silently in the forest, and cultivate the ability to interpret bird behaviors and vocalizations.
Natural History and Heritage. What does the local soil composition have in common with San Francisco? Who lived here before and how did they live off the land? Students discover the legacies of their local home and it’s native ancestors.
Community Awareness and Stewardship. Exploration of these areas of knowledge leads to a greater sense of place and confidence in the natural world. From this experience an understanding, an invitation to explore their passions and affinities arises. Students are encouraged to manifest these gifts to honor themselves, and for the nourishment of their community. Everything we need to survive and prosper comes from the natural world and community. When one has a positively powerful connection to them, and profound gratitude for them, they will protect them. We strive to help students form a firmly rooted moral compass, one that is derived from the inside out, and that reflects their respect and awareness for the world around them.