Washington Outdoor School's approach to outdoor education is child-interest led with an emphasis on experiencing each day in the moment, noticing changes and building on previous experiences. The natural world offers up our curriculum for the day. Washington Outdoor School is about exploration, play and experiencing what the world has to offer so as to cultivate an attitude of joy and wonder within each child. Natural experiences might be infused with a relevant book or song or time spent learning about the things the children find interesting over a period of time...but whatever we explore has to be of interest to the children and organic to their experience. Our goal is for kids to love being outside and feel inspired to explore as they move through the space.
Our work is based on the core values of strong communities, equal access to outdoor adventures and stewardship of our natural world. Washington Outdoor School began as a pilot in November of 2013 and became Roslyn Outdoor School in the Fall of 2014 with support from RTown Community, a local non-profit focused on cultivating community projects that promote joy and positive community development. Our outdoor immersion program for children and families primarily utilizing the Roslyn Urban Forest and local garden spaces expanded to serve children in Ellensburg in the Winter of 2015 with the support of the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) and located this branch of our program in Helen McCabe State Park. Our name had to change to reflect our broader service area and we became Washington Outdoor School, a 501c3, in the Fall of 2016. What continues to endure is our dedication to immerse children and their families in the outdoors with the belief that immersion in nature connects us to the land, deepens our understanding and love for the world around us inspiring us to live in a way that protects and sustains life on Earth. Along with the Roslyn and Ellensburg branches, we are developing new programs and will be expanding to Yakima soon.