Why Wild Whatcom

We acknowledge that this land is the traditional territory of the Lummi and Nooksack Peoples. Their presence is imbued in these mountains, valleys, waterways, and shorelines. We aim to nurture our relationship with our Coast Salish neighbors, and the shared responsibilities to their homelands where we all reside today. We recognize that if it were not for their historic and continued commitment to preserving these lands we, as a community and organization, would not be able to benefit from the lush, vibrant landscape we live, work, and play in today. 

Our Mission and Vision

Wild Whatcom fosters lifelong connections to nature. We do this in order to promote the health and well-being of young people in our community and to support our community in raising a generation of environmental stewards who care about each other and the planet.

More and more research points to what we know intuitively—nature promotes healthy bodies and minds. However, across the country, children are increasingly spending time indoors, disconnected from their natural environments and communities. Wild Whatcom aims to provide a positive antidote and fun alternative.

Studies have shown that children who participate in outdoor programs have:

  • Stronger self-esteem and sense of purpose

  • Improved focus and more positive attitudes

  • Increased physical activity and confidence

  • Deeper commitments to environmental stewardship

"If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered,
then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it." –David Sobel

We are also living through a time where we face daunting ecological and social challenges. Many of us find hope in young people working to make a positive difference in the world. Wild Whatcom aims to support the development of engaged youth who value nature, understand social responsibility, and lead collaboratively—a generation of environmental and social change-makers.

OUR APPROACH

"Wild Whatcom inspires people of all ages to love and care for the earth.
At the heart of Wild Whatcom is joy! " –Parent, Wild Whatcom Participant

Wild Whatcom prioritizes outdoor education, long-term mentorship, and service

 Learn more about how we build and design our experiences for participants: 

  • Our outdoor explorations are structured yet flexible. Nature provides spontaneous and important lessons that inspire learning in the moment. We utilize the power of play, learning to be "here and now," and innate curiosity to catalyze a love of nature.

  • Our teaching methods are child-led and Socratic in nature. We use techniques such as answering questions with prompts to inspire reflection and personal discovery. Opportunities for real life problem-solving occur every time we're together. Challenges become collaborative possibilities.

  • Our service projects are a means to discover the joy in giving—to learn first-hand that to give is to receive—and to expand young people’s awareness of how many ways they can make a difference in their community.

  • Our activities are expansive and fun. At Wild Whatcom we play games, ask questions, clamber over rocks (and look under them), wonder at the habits of fungi, spend quiet time on our own, hike, create poetry, laugh at the rain, build shelters, follow streams, challenge ourselves, help out, make friends, and get dirty!

  • Our skills lessons, woven throughout each outing, range from local plant identification and fire-building to self reflection and positive communication. Lesson plans are tailored to the age group and group dynamics and “scaffold,” or build upon one another, to enable participants to practice skills time and again.

OUR COMMITMENT TO EQUITY

Wild Whatcom staff and board of directors are united in a commitment to prioritize equity, access, and safe spaces when developing our organization and programs. This is, and will be, a continuing conversation we have with each other, our participants and families, our funders, our partners, and you as we continue to learn, grow, and act together.

Learn more about our Commitment to Equity and/or join the conversation.

OUR IMPACT

Each year, we:

  • Explore outside with more than 2,000 people; playing, learning, and connecting.

  • Provide more than 50,000+ "nature hours," time kids spend outside, immersed in nature.

  • Contribute more than 4,000 hours of service for community partners.

  • Discover dozens of new wild places during outings, camps and backpack trips. 

  • Bring hundreds of families together to explore nature's wonders and share in discovery.

  • Partner with dozens of local organizations to raise awareness about and increase the impact of other programs in the community.

WILD WHATCOM AND YOU

Wild Whatcom provides free and by-donation programming in the community as well as scholarships, free transportation, and free loaner gear. We are able to do this through generous donations and in-kind support.

If you are interested in supporting our work, please consider donating financially or by providing something off our wish list. Thank you!