There is a growing movement of outdoor nature schools that are inspiring urban/suburban dwellers to rebuild relationships with their natural environment. Southern California’s Coast Live Oak School is one of them.

Coast Live Oak School: Corona Del Mar

Rather than meeting at a single place, Coast Live Oak holds classes at locations all over northern Orange County, from beaches to mountains. They use area parks and preserves to their full potential, encouraging students to make use of all their senses as they explore their surroundings.

Mark Hay, the school’s founder, is passionate about the environment, and he is just as passionate about people of all sorts. So, in addition to deeper insights into California’s natural history, a day outdoors with Mark and his wife, Amy, will yield conversations that are playful, respectful, receptive and inquisitive. My son and his friends thrive in this setting, not only building confidence and understanding, but also honing their senses, defining personal values and expanding their sense of context as they learn how their footsteps fall in a long continuum of human footsteps.

Coast Live Oak School, Orange, California

I am profoundly grateful that something like this exists in my world, and I am exhilarated, because I believe this kind of confidence is an essential component of true community. Confidence in ourselves frees our creativity and our sense of wonder, allowing us respect the differences in others, and to face confrontations with open ears.

 

 

Other Southern California initiatives that follow similar principles are Earthroots Field School (South Orange County) and the Wilderness Youth Project (Santa Barbara).

Coast Live Oak School: Acorn Collection

Interested in learning more about early California? Here are a couple of promising links I found while researching this post:

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