Teens in Nature

Annual Nature Programs for Ages 12-19

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
— Alan Watts, Philosopher

The Outside Now learning community is in the midst of a vital process to refresh opportunities for teens in nature. While “under re-construction” in 2019-20, we are keeping the essence of our teen programming alive by offering a limited number of full days of nature immersion each week and four extended experiences on the land–one designed to reflect the energy of each of the four directions. As the year progresses we intend to invite a larger group of teens to connect with the natural world via the addition of late afternoon and Saturday programs. New partnerships and “mobile mentors” are part of our emerging story, too…read on.

Please click below to download the application. Once completed, please scan and email the completed application to lynn@outsidenow.org.


Nature Academy Info:

Days:               Mon - Thu

Date:               Sep 4, 2018 - Jun 6, 2019

Time:              9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

Tuition*:      Click here for tuition options

Location:    Laguna Lake Park 

Ages:            12 - 19 (other ages with mentor approval)

*Annual enrollment is required.  Monthly payment plans are available.

Includes Autumn 4-day camping trip and Winter week-long backpacking adventures.




More than a decade ago, Nature Academy was brought to life by a group of founding teens who wanted to spend extended time together outdoors, challenging perceived limits with friends and learning from the natural world.  Today, Nature Academy teens continue to learn through direct experiences in the wild and via related academic pursuits through our longtime partnership with Global Village School in Ojai, an array of local public charter and private schools, and Cuesta Community College. 

As we evolve our programs for adolescents, we continue to gain wisdom from the practices of earth-based cultures of the world, where friends and family raise up their young ones together.  When planning a season of experiences on the land, our trained naturalist and academic mentors pass forward a range of nature connection practices: aspects of the 8 Shields Cultural Mentoring Model developed by author, naturalist, and anthropologist Jon Young; tracking and scout skills taught by master tracker Tom Brown, Jr.; the Nature-Led approach of Rx Outside created by O.N. co-founder Kathleen Lockyer; and their own unique mastery of a range of Primitive Skills and Ancestral Arts.

A week in the life of a Nature Academy student…

At the heart of Nature Connection Education is extended time spent on the land in consistent interaction with the natural world.  We consider nature to be our primary instructor. Experienced mentors facilitate our encounters with the elements, plants and mammals, birds and insects, mountains, meadows, and seasides. This is full bodied, direct experience learning, and it’s essential for our well-being.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays:  Wander Days…Timeless Wandering is a Core Routine of Nature Connection, along with Sit Spot, Bird Language, Tracking, Mapping, Storytelling, Sensory Awareness Games, Survival Living, Journaling, Sharing Gratitude, Using Field Guides, Shelter Building, Fire Making, and more. On these two days, we caravan from Laguna Lake Park in SLO in our trusty vans, Creeper and Nuthatch, to practice these Core Routines on treks in wilderness settings throughout SLO County. 

This program year, we will offer two portals for learning on each of these days: a physically challenging one and an introspective one.  For those who learn best in motion, a group will head out on extended hikes, tracking and scouting adventures,  fire making,  shelter building, and more.  Those who enjoy a still presence in nature will have the opportunity to explore their connection with all living things via the practices of sit spot, bird language, journaling, sketching, carving, and more. Of course, we’ll all meet up for opening and closing circles, Council conversations, games, songs, and storytelling.  

As we master Core Routines and Primitive Skills, we come to know a deep nature connection that moves us toward an authentic relationship with self, all life forms, and the land.

Thursdays: Homesteading Skills and Folk Arts…On this day, we learn skills and processes that use natural materials to create products that support life.  Homesteading Skills include:

Growing Food
Seeding for future crafting
Wild harvesting
Making medicines/teas
Cooking over a fire/Using
   primitive stoves
Preserving Food

Making tools
Carving and burning
Making and using natural dyes
Making and using bows and arrows
Raising and Processing animals
Crafting fire kits/Making fire by friction

Shelter building
Building with cob
Soap making
Basket Weaving
Forming and firing pottery
Making instruments
Making Shoes

As we master Homesteading Skills and Folk Arts, we become more grounded in knowing how to create a healthful daily life. We become more mindful, innovative, and appreciative of the ample gifts of nature.

Mondays: Merging the Inner and Outer Landscapes…Full time Nature Academy students come together in our classroom space in Morro Bay to integrate what we engaged with on the land.  On this academic day, we read books, short stories and poetry about nature, heroic quests, and survival. We write journal entries, essays, reflections, interpretations, short stories, poems, and blog posts. We paint and craft to illustrate what we are learning. We delve into current events and take on social justice issues. We expand our understanding through the study of historical and multicultural perspectives. Mathematics takes on new meaning as we look for geometric patterns in nature and engage in purposeful problem solving.


Fridays: Service Learning, Tutorials, and Apprenticeships…Although we are reserving Fridays for mentor training and program planning during the year ahead, a few focused apprenticeship and service learning opportunities will be available for teens. Private academic tutorials will be open to a limited number of students pursuing a diploma through the Global Village/Outside Now connection, as well. Those who wish to be considered for any of these personalized programs need to schedule an appointment with the director at info@outsidenow.org.


2-Day, 3-Day, or 4-Day enrollment options are available for Nature Academy teens during the 2018-19 program year. Enrollment includes a 4-day Autumn camping adventure and a late Spring backpacking trip.

Outside Now is an approved vendor for Inspire Homeschool Charter.