Core Values

These are the unshakable truths that clarify who we are, what we stand for, and why we do our work the way we do. Developed by our board of directors and staff in November 2011, these values guide and inform us on how to teach, navigate personal and professional relationships, and make decisions. They are assembled using the 8 Shields Model, which resonates with natural cycles in the natural world and has been used by native cultures for thousands of years.

East: Safety

It is imperative that all who participate in our programs feel safe to learn at their own pace by following their curiosity in a manner that does not jeopardize the safety of others. We embrace the fresh energy of a new experience, and cultivate an awareness of known hazards.

Southeast: Hope

We believe individuals protect what they love. Kids who develop deep nature connection through positive experiences outdoors during childhood will be motivated to practice lifelong environmental stewardship. In all that we do, we inspire individuals to believe that each individual positive act makes a difference in the health and vitality of our land and sea.

South: Education

We are committed to providing high quality, experiential learning for all that is meaningful, challenging and fun. We believe kids have a right to unstructured play outdoors, to get dirty, and to explore multi-sensory learning through high quality, place-based, naturalist, wilderness and maritime teachings.

Southwest: Nature-Connection

While ever-changing technology influences our daily life, we understand how to balance the virtual with the real so that we may teach others, especially children, do the same.  We understand and appreciate the transformative power of nature, and believe deep nature connection in principle and practice is an essential component of healthy living.

West: Community

We are here to serve our community. We are a trusted, valuable resource for children’s programs, adults, families and visitors. We believe in bringing people together and sharing gifts, stories and teachings so that we may collectively harvest and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Northwest: Family

We treasure the importance of family in every child’s life, and we nurture parent-child connections through the ages. We welcome and honor multi-generational participation as a means of connecting with the past and our individual ancestral traditions.

North: Leadership

We understand our responsibility to inspire change through our words and actions. We honor the lessons of the past as we build the future. We model integrity, empathy, and honesty. We collaborate with other schools, programs and nonprofit organizations in order to  provide the best possible outcome for our community.

Northeast: Respect

We respect the great diversity of experiences, ages and interests among individuals who become the fabric of our community. We respect traditional means of connecting with the earth and, with gratitude, harvesting its bounty. We respect the responsibility given to us as stewards of the earth to always act with future generations in mind.