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.

Teen Nature Day Info:

Days:               Tuesday and Thursday

Date:               Sept 3, 2019 - June 4, 2020

Time:              9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

Tuition*:      Click here for tuition options

Location:    Drop-off and Pick-up at El Chorro Park across from the SLO Botanical Garden 

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

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

Tuition includes: East Autumn Welcoming Camping Trip, North Winter Wolf Moon Storytelling Camp Weekend, and West Spring Celebratory Challenge Camping/Backpacking Week




We began the great adventure of Outside Now and nature connection education a decade and a half ago. Each summer since then, our planning process has included a review of our programs with an eye for keeping them vital and relevant. This year, our attention has been keenly focused on re-crafting our program for teens. The process will continue throughout the year ahead, as we shed the skin of what was Nature Academy and grow into the new possibilities being proposed for teens.

We will continue to look for guidance and wisdom from the practices of earth-based cultures of the world, as we reimagine our programs for adolescents. Our trained naturalist mentors are becoming more and more adept at reading the landscape and planning a season of experiences in the natural world. They will guide the Core Routines of Nature Connection developed by author, naturalist, and anthropologist, Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute; awareness and scout skills taught by master tracker Tom Brown, Jr.; the Nature-Led approach of Rx Outside as expressed by O.N. co-founder Kathleen Lockyer; and the mastery of a range of Primitive Skills and Ancestral Arts. We are excited for the year ahead!

A Day in the Life of a Teen in Nature…

Offer young ones extended time on the land, consistent opportunities for mindful interaction with the natural world where nature is the primary instructor, and deep nature connection happens. This full bodied, direct experience learning is essential for our well-being and for the health of the planet.

Tuesdays: Nature Immersion-Inner and Outer Landscape Experiences

Throughout the seasons of 2019-20, we’ll be traveling to a rotation of locations, including Wild Blue Ranch in Paso Robles and Bear Creek Ranch in Los Osos, to advance our mastery of earth-based skills and ancestral arts.

  • Bee-Keeping, Raising Sheep, and Growing & Processing Grains are three headliners for this year’s Outer Landscape projects. What is happening to the bee population today and why do we care about that? Why are more and more people looking toward simple living—growing their own food, building their own dwellings, making their own clothing, medicines, and more?

  • Inner landscape work will involve learning compassionate communication and the problem-solving and conflict resolution potential of Council Circles. What are the advantages of being a skilled listener? How can someone be clearly understood, and why is it important that people clearly understand one another?

  • We’ll combine our inner and outer landscape knowledge and skill to define and carry out service projects in our community and add our voices and energy to the growing strength of the youth social justice movement nationwide. What issues are important to next generations? What can we do to have an impact upon injustices in the world? How can we bring more beauty forward and promote peace on a global scale?

  • Our core mentor team, Lily Begler and Scott Marlin, will be joined by others whom we lovingly call our “mobile mentors,’’ people like Kari Stettler and John Derosier, of Wild Blue Ranch, who will weave in and out of our year to guide and share their immense knowledge and skill. Who else will travel our way to inspire and instruct?

What are Earth-based Skills and Ancestral Arts?
Outside Now mentors define Earth-based Skills (sometimes called “hard skills”) as processes involving natural materials to create products that support life.

Composting Methods
Growing Food and Crafting
Wild Harvesting
Seed Saving
Making Medicines/Teas
Primitive Cooking Techniques
Preserving Food
Making Tools
Carving and Burning
Knife Skills

Making and Using Natural Dyes
Making and Using Bows and
Raising and Processing Animals
Crafting fire kits/Making Fire By
Shelter Building
Constructing with Cob
Soap Making

Basket Weaving
Making Clay
Forming and Pit Firing Pottery
Making Instruments
Making Shoes
Making Cordage
Repurposing Textiles
Jewelry Making
Pressing Flowers
Bee Keeping

Thursdays: Nature Immersion-Timeless Wander Days

Timeless Wandering is a primary Core Routine of Nature Connection. On Thursdays this year we will travel in our trusty vans to trek on favorite as well as lesser known terrain, where nature will surprise and instruct us.

  • Throughout the year we will deepen our connection to the natural world as individuals and as a supportive community through the consistent practice of Core Routines: Wandering, Questioning, Sit Spot, Bird Language, Mapping, Tracking, Story of the Day, Sensory Awareness, Mind’s Eye Imagining, Animal Forms, Survival Living, Journaling, Sharing Gratitude, Using Field Guides, and more. We will give special attention to enriching our understanding of the art and science of Bird Language.

  • As a group, we will extend the earth-based skills, service, and social justice projects launched on Tuesdays on our Thursday program, as well. We’ll also be selecting personal, partner, or small group projects of interest to carry out for all or part of the year.

  • Out on the trail, we’ll gain further mastery of wilderness skills guided by “mobile mentors” and our constant Thursday mentor team.


Enrollment in our 2-Day Nature Immersion Program includes the cost of three of this year's Four Directions Seasonal Camps:

  • East Camp: Welcome to New Beginnings! October 1-4 , 2019 . Escondido Campground

  • North Camp: Wolf Moon Storytelling . January 17-20, 2020 . Montana de Oro

  • West Camp: Celebratory EOY Camping/Backpacking . May 25-29, 2020 . TBD

  • * South Camp: Earth-based Skills Camp . March 23-27, 2020

* We currently are designing this South Camp extended experience, which will be offered for an additional fee during this transition year.

Elements of our Teen Program Currently in the Development Phase…

We intend to add the following elements to our teen program as our year unfolds:

  • Late afternoon and Saturday nature connection experiences for teens attending traditional schools

  • Full Moon Nature Walks and New Moon Star Gazing

  • Opportunities for parents to join us on teen program days

  • Rites of Passage experiences for our eldest teens


If you have any questions about applying, please email us:.