Being in Nature Made Me Feel…

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Our Outdoor Explorers Program aims to strengthen and foster youths relationship with self, others, adult mentors, and the natural world. Check out what our youth had to say when asked “How does being in the nature make you feel?” after participating on our Yosemite Adventure Outing.

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Enter “Being in nature was really fun, I had a feeling of belonging” – Linda, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being nature made me feel like I belonged and made me realize the importance of conserving nature” – Marianna, Outdoor Explorer
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“Being in nature made me feel relaxed” – Kevin, Outdoor Explorer and Earth Team Alumni 
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“Being in nature is refreshing and eye opening every time.” – Zaid, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me feel relaxed and I was able to be stress free and not worry about anything.” – Nayla, Outdoor Explorer
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“Being in nature felt amazing. I feel restored” – Coco, Outdoor Explorer and Earth Team Alumni
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“Being in nature made me feel an unbridled rage towards insects that fly and suck blood.” – Jodiah, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me feel relaxed, I love the outdoors. It really reminded me how small I am in this big world” – Delaney, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me have a peace of mind and a sense of calmness.” – Angela, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me feel happy and it gave me a lot of energy. I learned a lot about Yosemite” – America, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me feel relaxed and like a new person. Like some of my stress fell of my shoulders.” – Noemi, Outdoor Explorer 
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“Being in nature made me feel connected with myself and the outdoors” – Gracy, Outdoor Explorer 

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE

A Grand Finale Adventure at Yosemite National Park

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Earth Team’s new Outdoor Explorers completed their final trip at Yosemite National Park. It was the grand finale of a year of adventure.

The group spent 3 days in the National Park and learned a wealth of nature knowledge working with Nature Bridge staff and educators. The first day was spent enjoying time at the campsite, setting group expectations, getting to know one another more, and enjoying good ol’ outside fun.

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On the second day, Earth Team took to Yosemite Valley. The group was mesmerized by the massive rock formations and waterfalls, a high light for many participants. The group also explored the meadows and the small river. A few students challenged themselves by walking through the ice cold river.

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One of the best parts about the day in the valley was taking a good chunk of time to discuss the Native American history of Yosemite and how National Parks influenced and impacted the cultures of the past and present. The group was really interested in this topic and the conversations got more into depth as participants engaged with this new perspective and understanding of land and history.

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As the sunset, the group joined together for a bonfire and lots of fun campfire games. Games included hot-spot, mafia, empire, hide and go seek, and a whole lot more. Laughter filled the void of city noises and technology. The group was also visited by lots of deer!

On the last morning, the team completed a hike to see the Giant Sequoias. The trees were massive and humbling to witness. The group learned a lot about the area and how to ensure it stays this beautiful for future generations. It was a really amazing time exploring the forest, we even got to climb through a tree cave!

Hear what our Outdoor Explorers had to say about their experiences.. 

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“Going to the Yosemite trip brought back so many memories from when I was an Earth Team intern during high school. I enjoyed meeting new people, the interns and the people who were invited. These trips are so important for high schoolers because it exposes them to new experiences that are once in a lifetime. I don’t regret a single trip I went to, they are as unique as the rest. Having Jenna working hard to coordinate these trips and everything else that has to happen to make it happen is invaluable. Even though I personally have been to Yosemite multiple times they still managed to leave me in awe because of the different activities we did. This trip, as every other trip, will be unforgettable.” Kevin, Outdoor Explorer and Earth Team Alumni 

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“I loved this trip! I had so much fun learning about the history of Yosemite and special facts about nature. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting new people and making lifelong friends.” Coco, Outdoor Explorer and Earth Team Alumni 

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“This trip was such an eye opening experience for me. Before coming I didn’t enjoy being in the outdoors and I saw it as kind of pointless and boring. After exploring Yosemite I realized that WOOOW this world is beautiful and there is more to life than just staying at home and watching netflix. It was a good time away from civilization and everything and let me focus on myself. I really enjoyed myself and the company on this trip. Coming back, I am more educated on the outdoors and I will continue to advocate to keep this Earth clean. This trip also boosted my confidence. I just felt so happy on this trip and I had no worries. Thank you for making me feel welcome.” Noemi, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I am happy I went to this trip because we had an opportunity to work with Nature Bridge and other kids. It made me and the rest of us just want to come back. Thank you all.” Zaid, Outdoor Explorer 

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“The Yosemite trip was very relaxing and gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. I am a shy and introverted individual and I am very grateful to have pushed myself out there to do new things. I am very thankful to go more in depth on the history of Yosemite and appreciate nature and myself as an individual more.” Angela, Outdoor Explorer 

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“This trip was fun. I liked seeing Yosemite again and meeting all these people whether they were new people or people I have already met. As a last trip this was all I could have asked for minus the mosquitoes which I will deal with later.” Jodiah, Outdoor Explorer 

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“This trip was amazing! It was my first time going to Yosemite and I couldn’t think of a better group to go with than with. Earth Team, Jenna and the rest of the group really made this trip memorable. I enjoyed the whole trip, but if I had to choose my favorite part of the trip I would definitely choose when we saw Yosemite Falls up close. Everyone at Nature Bridge was very welcoming, comforting, and friendly to us. I really hope I go back to Yosemite again in the near future.” Marco, Outdoor Explorer 

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“The Yosemite trip was amazing, I loved seeing the waterfall and the meadows. Everything was so beautiful. The group was really cool, they were all friendly and I am thankful that Jenna took me on this trip. I saw many deer and got to meet new people who were really cool. I hope I go back one day to Yosemite” America, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I really enjoyed the Yosemite trip. I think I would have had a better time if we traveled solo with Earth Team but I had fun regardless because of the people and the views!” Gracy, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I thought that this trip was great for me especially because this whole year has been very very stressful and I have had no time for myself. I have been able to lay back and be stress free, have fun, enjoy nature and the little things in life. I have been able to learn new things about how to take care of national parks and how to treat nature in general. I have also learned about our great group of people and their backgrounds. It’s made me feel closer and more comfortable on this trip. I believe this is a trip everyone should experience because it is something that will cause you to leave more educated and make you feel closer with yourself.” Nayla, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I really enjoyed how beautiful the views were and meeting new people! I thought the whole trip was really nice and Nature Bridge had really good food! Thanks for everything.” Delaney, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I had a really good time at Yosemite. The people I met were amazing and made this experience 10x better. The views were breathtaking and the history behind it gave me more perspective and a more grown respect for the place. I will never forget this trip.” Marianna, Outdoor Explorer 

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“This trip was fun overall, mostly all the games we played. I loved the experience and it was great being out in nature.” Linda, Outdoor Explorer

Special thank you to Nature Bridge for providing us with a wonderful cabin and amazing educators. Thank you to Carson for mentoring our youth on this outdoor experience!

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 RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE 

A Wild Wet White Water Rafting Adventure!

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Our Outdoor Explorers took to South Fork American River for a white-water rafting wild adventure. The group included Alumni and students from all 8 of our Title-1 High School partners.

 

The first day was all about relaxation and getting to hang with one another. The team spent time on the river, showed each other yoga moves, played card games and giant chess, took naps, and a lot more. It was a really relaxing day that brought everyone closer.

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One of the coolest parts of the trip was nighttime. For the first time, the group slept outdoors under the stars. Some of our students reported seeing their first shooting star EVER, and said that it flew across the entire sky like a rocket!

The following morning, the group was up early to clean up camp and prepare for the real fun of the trip.. white water rafting.

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The group first participated in a safety chat, where they learned the basics about white water rafting and what to be prepared for and aware of out on the water. Shortly after everyone suited up in wetsuits, helmets, and life-vests and were soon off to the rafts!

The rest of the day was spent rushing through rapids, playing rafting games and floating down the river. It was such an incredible time and everyone reflected very similarly… it just went by way too fast!

Check out what the youth had to say about the adventure! 

“I really enjoyed having this experience of white water rafting and especially making new friends. I loved watching and sleeping under the stars at night and seeing a shooting star as well. It was really fun.” – David, Outdoor Explorer 

“The White Water Rafting trip was one of my favorite Earth Team trips I’ve been on thus far. I really enjoyed the staff that was present and we had a good mix of students. Everyone was very joyful and the rafting itself was super fun. Overall it made me definitely want to go rafting again and opened me up to a new part of Sacramento that I didn’t know existed!” – Gracy, Outdoor Explorer 

“Originally, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to come because I haven’t done anything like this in a long time. I was a little worried but after the two days, I can say I am really glad I went. It was definitely a new experience but something I will never forget. It was a great group of people, I enjoyed the activities and how things were planned out and also how we had some time to ourselves. My favorite part was definitely being on the water, the time passed by way too quickly. I appreciate being reached out to and included as an Alumni. I am really grateful I have been a part of Earth Team and although I have gotten to experience some of these activities with my family it is different with Earth Team. It is such a good opportunity for everyone involved. Whenever I have explained to other adults or people about who we are and what we do they are usually impressed and say how they wish they could have been a part of something like this. Jenna has been a role model for me ever since I met her and everything she does for us is so amazing.” – Joleen, Outdoor Explorer, and Earth Team Alumni 

“I was really thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with Earth Team. It is a community that I think is very unique – in the best way possible. It is inspiring to see people who are becoming connected with the Earth. The fact that Earth Team is able to provide these outdoor opportunities for students like us changes the way we (or at least I) think about the cause for sustainability. I feel a deep connection to the earth, and trips like this give me a respect and love for nature that makes me want to fight for mother earth even more.” – Aubury, Outdoor Explorer and Earth Team Alumni 

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Bella (left) and Aubury (right) enjoying chill time along the South Fork American River

“I am really glad Earth Team put on this trip and invited Alumni because I didn’t know I would be able to participate in Earth Team events/trips after I graduated. I probably would have never gone white water rafting by myself but I really trust Earth Team and their mentors/leaders so I was open to it. I really loved how the trips have a fairly small group of people and enough free time for me to not feel drained from socializing too much. I was able to get the alone time I needed.” – Bella, Outdoor Explorer, and Earth Team Alumni 

“I feel extremely grateful when I go camping with EarthTeam. The people that I meet and the experience makes me realize that it is extremely important to build connections with other people. I enjoy interacting with other interns and I will continue to support EarthTeam as an alumna” – Julie, Outdoor Explorer, and Earth Team Alumni 

“I really enjoyed the trip it was fun to go rafting and it was my first time sleeping under the stars. overall it was a great trip and I had a great time getting closer to these people in the short time we had” – Espen, Outdoor Explorer 

“Thank you very much, Jenna, for providing us all with the opportunity to go white water rafting with you for the past two days! It seems that every trip I go on with Earth Team, there is a “first”. Last night was the first time I had ever slept outside! Initially, I hadn’t liked rafting because my helmet was a bit uncomfortable and I was lowkey scared of the water after the guide described how to escape if the raft were to flip over. However, after going on the class 3 areas I decided that I really enjoyed this trip. I’m so glad that I was able to meet new people along with seeing some of the friends I had made from slide ranch. Shoutout to Arnette, Allison, and Amy for being so friendly and inclusive. Thanks to Ben for letting me joke around with you and, most importantly, thank you to you for being such a great organizer and coordinator.” – Hillary, Outdoor Explorer 

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Allison (left) and Hillary (right) enjoying free time at Camp!

“I had an amazing time it was an awesome experience the people, the vibe, the river, the whole package was fantastic it really helps me a lot.” – Allison, Outdoor Explorer 

“This was a really good trip and I’m really happy I met so many cool new people. The rafting was super exciting and the time in between was filled really well. <3” – Jade, Outdoor Explorer

“This was a super duper fun trip again, living my best life like always. Earth team has been a big part of who I am and who I am trying to become and every trip brings me closer to what I want to do with my life in the future. This trip, in particular, showed me how to better understand other people and make more connections and friendships with people that have similar goals as me.” – Jeremy, Outdoor Explorer 

“Being outdoors made me feel very rejuvenated because I don’t go on outdoor adventures/excursions often and I just have a lot going on at home so the trip came at a good time” – Bella, Outdoor Explorer, and Earth Team Alumni 

“Being in the outdoors makes me feel at peace with myself, with others, and the world. It makes me forget about the responsibilities for a little while. It reminds me that it is okay to take time to self-reflect.” – Aubury, Outdoor Explorer, and Earth Team Alumni

Special thank you to OARS and OARS American River Outpost for provided our youth with this incredible experience, wonderful guides, and a beautifully maintained campsite.

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE 

Meaningful Relationships with Outdoor Mentors – Youth Share Out!

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One of the core themes of our Outdoor Explorers program is the building and strengthening of meaningful relationships with self, others and the natural world. After participating in an Outdoor Explorers Trip, over 90% of youth express feeling closer with peers and adult mentors.

Our youth were asked to reflect on their time spent with Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors on our recent White-Water Rafting camping trip.

The youth had a lot to say.. check it out! 

“They were super engaging and shared some awesome stories” – Elly, Outdoor Explorer 

“I like the guidance they gave and they reassured me when we were rafting” – David, Outdoor Explorer 

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“They treated us like we were capable of taking care of ourselves and wanted us to have fun” – Joleen, Outdoor Explorer 

“The outdoor mentors inspired me. What they do is the type of thing I would love to do as a career.” -Aubury, Outdoor Explorer 

“The outdoor mentors were fun as always. I always learn something new every single time I am with them.” -Jeremy, Outdoor Explorer 

“My favorite part about the mentors was that I felt comfortable being able to ask for help/have someone to talk to” – Natalyia, Outdoor Explorer 

“They were very mindful” – Julie, Outdoor Explorer 

“All the adult mentors were super friendly and super funny. I really enjoyed playing card games and talking to Jenna in the van.” – Hillary, Outdoor Explorer 

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“I enjoyed getting to know and talk to the mentors because they are very reliable, kind, cool, and inspirational people” – Bella, Outdoor Explorer 

“I like how the mentors respected our boundaries and gave us space while also really prioritizing our safety.” – Gracy, Outdoor Explorer 

“The mentors have funny stories about life” – Amy, Outdoor Explorer 

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“They brought a really positive vibe” – Allison, Outdoor Explorer 

“The mentors were really fun but also really good at organizing things.” – Jade, Outdoor Explorer 

“My favorite part of hanging out with the mentors was learning how to white water raft with them.” -Arlette, Outdoor Explorer 

Thank you to our Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors for being such a special part of our outdoor trips. We thank you for your time and contribution to our program! 

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE 

 

 

Meet our Outdoor Explorer’s Adult Mentors!

Our Outdoor Explorers Program does more than just take youth outdoors. This past year, Earth Team has developed an Outdoor Explorer’s Adult Mentor Network that provides folks in the communities opportunities to support local youth, get outdoors, and find a community of like-minded folks. Outdoor Adult Mentors support the trips by assisting with camping logistics and group coordination, sharing personal life stories and experiences, and providing opportunities for our youth to create meaningful relationships with adult mentors.

Adults are often strapped with a busy workload and long to do list. As a result, it can be a challenge for folks to have regular access to outdoors. Our Outdoor Explorers Program provides opportunities for these individuals to fit the outdoors in their schedule while also being able to give back to the community and learn more about leading youth. We couldn’t be more grateful for the support our Outdoor Explorer’s Adult Mentor team provides. We love having you on our trips and look forward to another fun year of adventure and connections!

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Analucia, Outdoor Adult Mentor, relaxing in the kayak at Santa Cruz Harbor

This year I had the privilege of volunteering on the overnight kayaking trip with EarthTeam. I was not prepared for the reward this trip provided me with. As a mother, I have a deeper level of appreciation for this team of individuals working to educate our future. EarthTeam provides the students with the knowledge that we only have this one Earth and how important it is to care for it. On this trip, I witnessed students from different backgrounds working together and stepping out of their comfort zones to connect and socialize with other students they may not have thought to connect with before. I was amazed at how involved these students were throughout the entire trip, not only staying engaged in topics about caring for the sea life but also the importance of always leaving a space cleaner then you found it. It was a complete pleasure working alongside Jenna. I believe her position in these students lives is important not only by providing them with the opportunity to get familiar with the outdoors but also by how much knowledge they are gaining that they can apply to their futures.” – Analucia, Outdoor Adult Mentor

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Sadie, Outdoor Adult Mentor, on her way up the trail at Blind Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park

“Volunteering with Earth Team has benefited me in many many ways. Mainly it’s given me hope that future generations will be passionate about protecting our environment. In a lot of ways, it takes a certain amount of privilege to be able to address the issues around our changing climate. Not everyone can afford to buy local groceries or afford to avoid the convenience of single-use plastic or even have the leisure time to go out to the beach or the snow and build a strong relationship with nature. Earth Team provides an opportunity for kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to build that relationship, and it gives me hope and reassurance that the youth in this region will actively fight for climate action.

Another huge thing I’ve gained from my experience with Earth Team has been the opportunity to build my relationship with nature. I’ve always loved camping, backpacking and kayaking being outside in any capacity are my favorite thing but because I’ve been so busy with work and school its been extremely difficult to arrange trips. Thanks to Earth Team I’ve gotten to spend time at the beach, in the snow, and at the river, all things that I love to do but rarely get to because of financial and time barriers. I’m so thankful for Earth Teams Outdoor Explorer’s Program, and I’m so excited for any future trips I will be able to support.” Sadie, Outdoor Adult Mentor

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Jenna (left), Outdoor Explorers Program Manager, and Brittany (right), Outdoor Adult Mentor at the top of the mountain ready to hit the slopes!

“My goal this year was to engage with my community through volunteering. I struggled to find an organization that resonated with me and one that had multiple opportunities to connect with the people from my community. I was immediately attracted to Earth Team because of their Mission, and their ability to stoke a passion for nature in Bay Area teenagers by giving them opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoors.

At the end of the trips, students share their reflections. The reflections have a common theme of being challenged, learning, love, and excitement about the outdoors. These trips with Earth Team’s Outdoor Explorer Program ignites a true love for being in nature. I’m grateful to be able to support these teens through their transformative years and to be part of the catalyst that leads to a love for the outdoors. Volunteering in the Outdoor Explorers Program is accessible for me because the funding also allows me to participate in activities with the student interns.” – Brittany, Outdoor Adult Mentor

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Andrea, Outdoor Adult Mentor, striking a pose before jumping into the kayak!

“This past May I volunteered with the Earth Team on an outdoor camping trip. This trip was an amazing experience working with the youth, especially since it was an all girls trip. The activities that our group participated in included: team building, kayaking, cooking, setting and cleaning up camp, and visiting a local conservatory center.

These activities provided lots of learning opportunities for the students, especially since it was a lot of students’ first time camping and or cooking. It also helped the students work on their social skills considering that there were students from different high schools in the East Bay. It was cool to see how fast the girls got along with each other and how well they worked as a group as well. I believe listening to them share their backgrounds and previous projects they have worked on at their schools really engaged the community members we interacted with throughout this trip.

At the end of our trip, students and team leaders were asked to reflect on how their weekend was spent. Many students expressed gratitude and their vision for future environmental changes. I believe this trip helped give students and team leaders more insight on the importance of their environmental efforts and to spread awareness of it. Overall I believe this program is an extremely enriching program not only for the youth, but anyone in the community, and I would definitely support a future trip again.” – Andrea, Outdoor Adult Mentor 

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Kailyn, Outdoor Adult Mentor and Mindfulness Retreat Yoga Teacher, enjoying the ocean views.

“We were ready for a mindfulness retreat months ago when the California fires smoked out our ability to travel. When we finally set out this past weekend we had a small group – half “adults”, half students – due to other happenings. In this, reminders were given that as much as we learn in predetermined classrooms, planned retreats, and lead activities the moments our mindfulness is often practiced are the waves and randomness. That adults are still students of life, and that young students have a way of embracing the planet in ways that bring us back to life. I appreciate how the small group allowed us more freedom in our space and schedule to experience the uniqueness every person brought to the camp table and to get covered in sand attempting to fly. “ – Kailyn, Outdoor Adult Mentor

Thank you again to all of our Outdoor Adult Mentors. Our Outdoor Explorers Family is quickly expanding and we are excited to build a strong community of leaders that are eager to get outdoors and support youth’s exploration of nature and themselves.

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE 

Reflecting and Rejuvenating Together Along the Coastline

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This past weekend, Earth Team Outdoor Explorers took to Bodega Bay Dunes Campground, Sonoma Coast State Park to relax and rejuvenate together after a crazy school year. The group was small but that made it all the better, it really gave an opportunity for everyone to connect and have the alone time they needed to practice mindfulness.

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The group started out exploring the campground and came upon some fun finds. It was fun to goof around and get a little lost together. Shortly after exploring, tents were up and we were off to the beach!

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The beach was definitely the highlight of the trip. Everyone shared their personal favorite games and activities like Ship Island, Human Knot, and so much more. We played Charades, added to ocean forts, and shared a lot of laughter.

“I ❤ the beach! It is my favorite place in the world. It is very peaceful like we can forget the world for a second and breathe.” – Jessica, Outdoor Explorer

“Being at the beach made me feel really good. It made me feel very free and free-spirited. ” – Joey, Outdoor Explorer

Going to the beach made me feel calm and like I want to go back” – Jade, Outdoor Explorer

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It wasn’t all crazy excitement though, as the sun began to set, Outdoor Explorers Mentor Kailyn led the group in a beach yoga session, followed by some super fun acro yoga. The group practiced different breathing techniques and different dynamics movements to loosen up their body and recognize and address areas of tension. Acro yoga was super fun, everyone got the chance to practice with another and learn about how to rely on one another and balance together.

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The following morning, after an LNT (Leave No Trace) camp sweep, more beach time followed but this time the vibe was chill and relaxed. Individuals separated for solo time and participated in a letter to future self-activity.

It was a wild weekend full of wonder and love for one another. Every moment was worthwhile and wonderful.

Hear from our students about what they had to say about the weekend! 

“I really enjoyed the trip because it gave me time to relax but also have a lot of fun. I learned a few things about being outdoors but also about life. It was the second shortest trip that I have attended with Earth Team but every moment was fun and worthwhile. I look forward to seeing everyone again in the future.” – Jeremy, Outdoor Explorer

“The camping trip was my favorite one I have ever done with Earth Team. The small group of people, whom I have never met, allowed me to spend as much time socializing with new folk as I did with myself. Being able to go to the beach was the best part. Watching the waves rise and fall was as peaceful as it can get! Reminds me to take a break from the “real world” and to focus on self-care and rejuvenation. I am so grateful for the experience! :)” Jessica, Outdoor Explorer

This trip was really dynamic bc it was high energy and chill at different times. It was also great that we got to explore the area and different activities.” – Jade, Outdoor Explorer

“I had so much fun even though not all 25 made it. I think that the trip was actually better without them. It was easier for all of us to bond and work more efficiently. This trip was a great experience, second time camping actually. Thanks to earth team. I’m glad I was able to work out my schedule and go on this trip because it seemed like a good way to wrap up the school year. With all this mindfulness.” – Joey, Outdoor Explorer

“I had a really fun time making new friends and camping. Visiting the beach was one of the highlights of the trip for me. It was so fun working as a team to pick up huge logs to contribute to building those hut things. I look forward to my next trips as I’ll continue to make new friends as well as connect and grow closer to nature” – David, Outdoor Explorer

Special thank you to Kailyn, Sadie, Emma, and Briana for joining our trip and being excellent mentors for our youth!

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RELATIONSHIPS | CONFIDENCE | ADVENTURE

Sharing a First Time Experience – ALL Students See the Snow

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Record-breaking snowfall in the Tahoe region was ideal for our mission to ensure all of our students get to experience the snow. In mid-May, our Outdoor Explorers took to the mountains for a snowshoeing extravaganza. All of the students on the trip were either experiencing the snow for the first time, or for the first time in years. The “newness” of this trip fostered a lot of excitement and enthusiasm that was shared amongst all group participants.

The trip began right after school on Friday. Students met up at BART, received all their snow gear, and were soon off to the campsite, Bear River Campsite in Auburn. The team arrived at camp past sunset, and experienced their first challenge of the weekend, setting up a tent in the dark. Each tent team worked together with only one headlamp. Before no time, the tents were up!

“One of the challenges was definitely setting up the tent in the dark, we accomplished this by communicating and I felt good knowing that we put up a tent by ourselves” – Liza, Outdoor Explorer 

“A challenge I faced was putting a tent up in the dark. I felt good knowing my leadership skills kicked in and we got it done fast” – David, Outdoor Explorer 

After learning about LNT practices, safety topics, and how to care for yourself overnight, the group settled down to bed. Saturday morning came quickly and before no time, the camp was packed up, bellies were full and the group was off to Tahoe to see the snow!

The snow day was full of fun and new adventures. Participants learned about the Native American History of the site, snowshoed up a mountain, participated in snowball fights, and built lots of snow art creations. The group also explored the forest ecosystem via team building exercises that challenged students to invite all their senses to help them explore.

 

It was a wonderful trip with lots of great memories to take away. Participants really enjoyed being outdoors and acting like a kid again in the snow, they also were big fans of the Outdoor Explorers Volunteers Mentors that joined us for the trip. Check out what some of our participants had to say about the weekend!

“It was a fun experience going into the snow for the first time, the challenges of building a tent in the dark and finding the tree blindfolded was a great team building exercise.” – David, Outdoor Explorer

“The trip was amazing. Being able to enjoy the outdoors with the snow is something I don’t experience often. Being able to know and be prepared for it was cool.” – Diana, Outdoor Explorer

“This trip was really cool and fun for my first trip this year. Although it was tiring getting up the snow to make it to our destination, I sure had lots of fun bonding with each other and getting to know one another.” – Liza, Outdoor Explorer

“The trip was great I met people from different schools, I end with 3 of the people Instagram I have met and it was really fun when we set the camp in the night and when we had the snowball fight” – Arlette, Outdoor Explorer

“I really enjoyed the snowshoeing trip, my favorite part would be the time we spend in the snow and playing games but camping was also surprisingly fun and I had to good time during the entire trip.” – Anshdeep, Outdoor Explorer

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE

A Coastal Community-Themed Celebration of Environmental Stewardship

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As always, our program year seems to fly by in an instant. One of the best times of year is when our staff, board, and student interns take a nature break to share stories and celebrate the hard work everyone puts in. This year, Earth Team headed to Slide Ranch for a weekend of impactful story-telling, awesome views, educational activities, and all around good times.

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The weekend kicked off in Berkeley where students from 7 different East Bay Area schools joined together, in addition to a couple of graduated Alumni from the program. This LEAF (Leadership and Environmental Action Forum) Retreat was particularly unique because almost every one of our students already knew at least a few members in the group from participating in previous outdoor trips. These connections made a strong foundation to strengthen and build new relationships. After playing some name games, and sharing excitement for the trip, the group was off to the coast of Muir Beach!

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Participants received a camp orientation, learned about some safety topics, and finally set up tents with the help of each other. It wasn’t long before the open pasture turned into our little temporary Earth Team community home.

The group headed to the Slide Ranch farm site for tons of education, interactive activities. There, the group participated in baby goat feeding, bread making, cheese making, pasture management, beekeeping, sensory garden exploration and more. In our after-school programs, students work on issues related to; restoration, wildlife conservation, urban forestry, air quality, watershed health, and waste reduction. Slide Ranch focuses mainly on sustainable agriculture and husbandry, a new topic for all of our participants to engage in together.

After farm activities, participants headed down to the beach where they discussed ocean safety and all the cool things to keep an eye out for when exploring. The group saw lots of exciting things, like sand dollars, sea urchins, and even a crab fight!!! One of the highlights of the entire weekend was when one of the participants shouted out “WHALE!”. This act was the beginning of an unplanned 20+ whale watching session, with TONS of whales breaching and passing along the coastline. It was indeed a once in a lifetime sight-seeing experience.

The group followed their incredible whale watching experience with the program sharing portion of the day. Each school group presented on their programs and the projects they have been working on all year. Also, each had the opportunity to share what Earth Team means to them, and how participating in this program has given them confidence and influenced their perspective on the world and their place in it. The board was ecstatic to see so many young people advocating and stewarding our environment.

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To end the day, the group enjoyed a taco night dinner and smores around the bonfire. Everyone was in such a great mood, and the atmosphere was welcoming and full of love. The group participated in a few activities including affirmations, where individuals gave shout outs and appreciated one another for the energies and kindness people brought to the day. It was a heart-warming experience that truly made everyone feel at home.

The following day went by quick. The group learned more about animal husbandry and got the chance to milk a goat! Participants took down camp and participated in reflection activities to close out the day. Interns had incredible takeaways from the weekend, making it safe to say it was quite the success.

Tremendous thank you to our interns, Earth Team staff and board members, Slide Ranch staff, and all others who were a part of making this weekend so magical.

This trip would not have been possible without the generous contribution from California Coastal Conservancy. Thank you for supporting our efforts to connect youth to our oceans. After participating on this trip over 72% of interns reported feeling a greater sense of belonging to the coast.

RELATIONSHIPS | ADVENTURE | CONFIDENCE

A Snow Experience of A Lifetime

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 8.53.53 AMTo kick off spring, our Outdoor Explorers heading to Tahoe National Forest for a snow-packed weekend of adventure. The trip was in partnership with the Gateway Mountain Center which provided knowledgable, friendly guides to support activities throughout the weekend. We spent the weekend at Clair Tappaan Lodge, a beautiful history rich rustic retreat for snow-enthusiasts.

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The trip was originally scheduled for Spring Break but had to get rescheduled due to heavy snowfall. As a result, the timing was a bit tight but we made it work! The group arrived in Tahoe around 11:30 pm on Friday night and worked hard together to lug all of our luggage up the snowy hill in a few sleds.

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The first day was spent snowshoeing around the Cabin area. This was everyone’s first-time snow-shoeing which made the experience extra special. The group learned about dressing properly for the colder weather and soon took off in search of prime-time sledding spots! Once a spot was agreed upon, the fun really picked up. Participants enjoyed tons of free-time, most of them spent it making snow angels, sledding, having snowball fights, and/or building igloos.

After everyone got all their energy out, the group settled down to learn from Gateway Mountain Center staff about Forest Ecology and the important role our forests play in our changing climate. The group learned how to identify different tree species and played a game where they had to use senses other than their sight to locate specific trees throughout the forest. After learning about Forest Ecology, the group started to explore snow science! Participants conducted mini-experiments to get a better understanding of what is actually in the snow and how that varies based off of how deep the snow is in the ground. It was awesome to practice some STEM learning on an Outdoor Trip.

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Downtime at the cabin was filled with card games, mafia, ping-pong tournaments and a lot of great conversation. The group was from around all over the Bay and enjoyed getting to know one another.

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The climax of the weekend was the last day, where the group headed to Donner Summit for a first time snowboarding/skiing experience. The youth got suited up with gear and equipment, participated in guided lessons, and spent the rest of the day flying (or falling) down the mountain!

Check out what our Outdoor Explorers had to say about their snow experience! 

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“This weekend was an amazing experience for me. I have gotten to do fun activities like snowshoeing and sledding and learn so much about the snow which I rarely get to experience. In particular, my favorite moment was when I got to ski down a hill for the first time and the feeling of excitement while doing it. I have found that I really enjoy snow sports and I would love to continue doing things in the snow like this. I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to experience this.” – Jada, Outdoor Explorer

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“This trip has been a very fun and a great learning experience. I have never skied before in my life or experience the snow like this. We have spent 2 days, learning about forest ecosystems and sledding. I love sledding, it was very fun. Skiing was very scary at first and I still am a bit scared but I am getting the hang of it. I had fun going down the small hill and learning how to turn, falling was fun because we would all laugh. I hope to get better and I hope to come again one day.” – America, Outdoor Explorer

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“Personally, this was my first time being in the snow, and to do this with my friends and Earth Team made this experience 100 times better. This weekend we learned valuable skills such as snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and how to dress appropriately for colder conditions. This weekend we also learned about forest ecology. The sense of teamwork really made us feel much closer and it was more than I expected. This trip was so much fun” – Marco, Outdoor Explorer

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“I have had a lot of fun so far and am looking forward to going again. This was a great chance for me to branch out and meet new people and also get good at something I have never done before. By the time I leave, I will be a pro. Of course, it was fun to get out of the house but this trip is beyond what I was expecting. Id like to express my gratitude for getting people like my friends and I out here to have a new experience and learn new things.” – Jodiah, Outdoor Explorer

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“For me, this was amazing to see snow for the first time all the way to get to experience snowboarding. The snowboarding part of this trip took it to the next level. This is way better than staying at home and playing video games. It was so fun, no matter how much or how hard I fall I always got up happy no matter how much it hurt. I have met so many kids from different schools talking to them, figuring out their different personalities, and spending the night with each other was so cool.” -Elijah, Outdoor Explorer

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“This opportunity allowed me to try new things and experience a new sense of excitement I have never felt before. I have made connections with other interns and was able to learn and enjoy our time in the snow.” – Kathleen, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time skiing so arriving at Donner Ski Ranch was terrifying enough. I was nervous but the staff was really nice and helpful so getting geared up was the easy part. Getting out and actually learning to ski was extremely challenging but my instructor Trevor was incredible, he was so kind and patient with me, plus he had a great sense of humor. I will definitely try skiing again in the future with the hopes of getting better.” – Evelin, Outdoor Explorer

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“This trip has allowed me to learn a new skill and has changed my life. I had so much fun snowboarding (and falling) today. It was truly a life-changing experience. This trip made it possible for me to fly down a mountain and have an amazing experience this weekend. It meant the world to me” – David, Outdoor Explorer

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“This was my first time snowboarding so I fell and flipped so much but overall I have been having a great time. I would say that everyone will have plenty of memories from this trip. Snowshoeing and snow science was also really cool. When we went snowshoeing we took sleds to ride down the mountain and we also threw a lot of snowballs. My favorite part of this trip would be when we ate smores since I have never had any before.” – Carlos, Outdoor Explorer

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“Without this trip, I would have never been able to experience something like this. Yesterday, we snow-shoed and hiked up a beautiful snowy mountain in the forest. The trees were so vibrant with the little pops of the bright green from the moss. To top it all off, we went sledding down huge mountains. We had awesome snowball fights and truly a great time playing in the snow, discovering new things, and learning about it – I know I did! I love being with this great group of people, doing something we are all so excited about. Today, I am snowboarding and man! Is it cool! It is so liberating (and scary) to just go freely down the mountain. Even with all the bumps and falls, slipping and sliding. This is one of the best things I have ever gotten the chance to do. I was looking forward to this all week and my expectations of fun adventures did not fail! This is one of the best experiences of my life!”- Asha, Outdoor Explorer

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“I got to know people from other schools and better connect with friends I already had. On top of that, I learned how to better connect with and control my body (which is a necessity for snowboarding). I had to commit to a move or plan to get down the hill which I learned while getting a couple of bumps and bruises but no pain, no gain! This trip allowed the 13 of us to bond, play, learn and relax.”– Nick, Outdoor Explorer

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“I was able to participate in our outdoor trip to Tahoe where we were able to learn new things like skiing and snowshoeing. I have been able to find a new passion. The feeling of zipping down the mountain on a snowboard is second to none and I think it is important to know that this trip played a part in letting me experience it. The outdoor activities we participated in also gave me a greater fondness for and understanding of nature. I hope we get to go on even more adventures.” – Rocky, Outdoor Explorer

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“Earth Team is all about getting outside and learning skills that we will use and enjoy for years to come. I myself really loved this trip. I loved seeing the snow and playing with it. I haven’t since I was 4 yrs old other than in movies and pictures. It was fun putting on snowshoes and hiking into the snow. During our breaks while hiking we sled, built an igloo, an had snowball fights. We built a ramp at one of the spots. I went over the ramp on the sled and went in the air which was amazing! Today, I went skiing which was hard but still a lot of fun even though I fell lots of times I enjoyed it” – Abigail, Outdoor Explorer

Thank you to Gateway Mountain Center, Clair Tappaan Lodge, Donner Summit and Earth Team’s Outdoor Explorers Adult Mentors for an incredible snowy weekend! 

ADVENTURE | RELATIONSHIPS | CONFIDENCE