Nurturing Curiosity Through Outdoor Education

Last updated: January 9, 2023, at 10:20 a.m. PT

Originally published: January 9, 2023, at 10:20 a.m. PT

young boy near the ocean, in front of a purple starfish

It’s your generosity. That’s what continues to make our outdoor education programs possible. Because, while you can’t put a price on the wonder of the outdoors, it does come at a cost. Thank you for helping to ensure that all youth could access outdoor education. 

YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island and YMCA Camp Colman on Key Peninsula provide youth with an opportunity to get out into nature in a meaningful way. For many, it is their first camping trip and a chance for their curiosity about the natural world to be sparked and nurtured. Asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence - this all makes scientific concepts that may have seemed unrelatable in the classroom come to life through experiences.  

Our evidence informed outdoor education experiences instill a deep appreciation for the natural world, opening youth up to the possibility of careers in earth sciences. After having the seed of environmental conservation planted while away at camp, some may return home and nurture it by participating in YMCA Earth Service Corps. Another program made possible by supporters like you, this innovative youth-led program empowers students to take an active role in creating a healthier environment for their schools, communities, and regions. 

kids doing science experiments off the side of a dock

As well as significant academic and physical learning, outdoor education like this also has a profound effect on youths’ social, emotional, physical and mental health. Thanks to social and emotional learning being woven into every facet of our programming, we receive postcards like this:   

“Before I came to camp I thought that people judged me by what I could and couldn’t do. I was afraid that I must prove myself to them. After coming to camp, I realized that no one is judging me like that. Everyone is so supportive and they help me challenge myself but not too much.”  -Youth participant 

group of students and teacher next to the ocean

Living and working side by side at camp also provides students and teachers alike with opportunities to form and deepen relationships in ways that wouldn’t be possible in a classroom environment:  

“I was able to view my students through a new lens and recognize some strengths and vulnerabilities that they didn't display in the classroom.” -  8th Grade Teacher, St. Luke School, Shoreline, WA 

You make that — and all of this — possible. The life skills learned, friendships made, and outdoor interests ignited will ripple out into this coming year and generations to come as a result of your generosity. Thank you. 

Plus, learn more about our new Mineral Lake property which will allow us to build for the next century of outdoor experiences for youth and their families.