San Diego Canyonlands
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Youth Programs

 youth programs


San Diego Canyonlands is dedicated to educating San Diego’s youth about the value of open space, community stewardship and volunteerism as well as developing a ’sense of place’ in San Diego's nature. In his books Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder (2005) and The Nature Principle (2011), author Richard Louv shows how our children learn better in natural, outdoor settings, and how nature can help ward off Attention Deficit Disorder and childhood depression (see www.childrenandnature.org for more info).

Our Programs

Through collaborations with other non-profits we have helped develop several youth-oriented programs and act as canyon hosts during "nature classroom" learning activities. Also, SDCL works with at-risk youth in City Heights and Southeast San Diego where gangs and delinquent behaviors are wide-spread. These communities have the greatest deficiency in park and open space amenities in the city. We enroll youth in our nature-based education and stewardship programs, providing positive activities and opportunities to learn about nature in hands-on, experiential ways. Youth who we serve learn quickly that they can make a difference in the community they live in as well as help solve regional environmental challenges. Empowering youth to significantly benefit their community builds self-esteem.

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SDCL has collaborated to develop several youth-oriented educational programs centered on San Diego's canyons. In addition to raising awareness and appreciation for San Diego’s unique eco-systems, all of our youth programs seek to foster a sense of place, ownership, and an ethic of stewardship. All programs provide opportunities for hands-on learning and canyon enhancement activities.

California Sea Grant, Ocean Discovery Institute, and San Diego Canyonlands are teaming up with local schools to cleanup Manzanita Canyon. The project integrates urban native greening, invasive plant and trash removal, and the engagement of the community and local decision makers in order to sustainably improve water quality, and the climate resilience of urban ecosystems. This is a clip from "The Time is Now; The Future is Here."

Kids in Canyons A collaboration with the Ocean Discovery Institute's Aquatic Adventures that brings standards-based curriculum to the classroom with educational field trips to the canyons. Link

OutdoorExplore! An after-school program for K-6 students developed in partnership with San Diego Audubon Society. Link

Children & Nature Network The Children & Nature Network is leading a movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. Link

School Community Service Program Offers learning opportunities for high school and middle school students to "learn as they earn" their required community service credits by helping with canyon stewardship activities. Link

Jackie Robinson YMCA Nature Exploration Project SDCL began a partnership with Jackie Robinson Family YMCA (JRYMCA) in July 2010 to create a sustainable, nature education and stewardship program that provided youth with a non-competitive program option, with access to nature and opportunities to learn about the unique Chollas Creek eco-system. The opportunities to develop nature-educational projects at the JRYMCA are rich because the YMCA owns the property and Chollas Creek flows right through it. We hope to gain additional funding to further develop the program, build sustainability and continue converting a blighted creek area into a healthy nature classroom or nature exploration area for children.

Youth Group and Scout Programs Please contact us if you are interested in a youth group project or event.


NOTE for Youth Volunteers:

Youth volunteers are encouraged to participate with an adult. Unless supervised by an authorized youth program leader (such as a Scout leader, or a teacher, etc.), or unless prior arrangements are made with SDCL staff, a minor’s participation in SDCL canyon activities requires the presence of a parent. Students can earn Community Service Credit by participating in our restoration and cleanup events.

All youth must also have a parent or guardian sign a waiver before participating in any of our volunteer activities.