Overnight Camp Guide

Big Bear Village

Camp begins at 1pm on Sunday and ends at 5pm Friday.  Parents/relatives are invited to the Camp Expo Friday at 4pm.

Visit Big Bear Valley…

Lost in the old coastal mountains is a land where the water runs clear and clean and the Coho Salmon come to spawn. Ancient trees stand tall and regal. This is a place where black bears den and raise their young and where cougars travel the ridges looking for food. In this hidden valley is where we will build Big Bear Village.

“This is the first time we have picked up our daughter from overnight camp and found her connecting with so many kids… She came home feeling really good and really positive. Thank you!”

Big Bear Village is a unique and unmatched outdoor experience. Students begin their week with an immediate immersion into nature as we jump right in to Miller Creek and go exploring. (Eat lunch before arriving to camp.) The explorations and challenges grow from there. Students will practice basic outdoor survival skills through practical application. The group will build primitive shelters and every student will be given the opportunity to spend the night in one, should they choose. Every night our campfires will be lit by the ancient bowdrill technology. During the Gnarly Hike kids will get to challenge themselves to complete a really challenging all-day route. Campers will also have a choice of several electives such as archery, tracking, ethnobotany, and more.

Each night at Big Bear we have a special night activity planned. These range from the always-popular Invisible Capture the Flag to the challenging Blindfolded Drum Stalk. During every night activity our instructors will be on hand to support campers to become more comfortable and confident in themselves.

Kids at Big Bear are also expected to put in some work to support their fellow campers. Each day at Big Bear campers will have rotating responsibilities to help camp function smoothly. This may include assisting our amazing kitchen staff in preparing gourmet meals for the camp. We have developed relationships with many local farms and food producers to provide our campers with wholesome foods which the majority have been organically grown right in the South Willamette Valley.

For the older students (13-16) we have a couple of extra activities planned. Mid week the older campers will be given the opportunity to connect with their food in a way that most modern people never do. Campers will be given the choice to participate in butchering several meat rabbits which will help provide food for the camp. Those who choose to participate will be guided through the entire process from live rabbits all the way through cleaning and preserving the meat as well as tanning the hides. We honor and respect the wishes of every camper in regard to their comfort level of participation in this activity and nobody is ever asked to do something they are not comfortable with. Some of the meat preserved from these animals will be saved for the final overnight expedition. Kids 13-16 will also embark on a specially designed “survival” overnight on the last night supervised by our staff. Campers will be challenged to work as a team to make themselves as comfortable as possible while spending the night outside–relying on the knowledge and skills they’ve gained over the week to create solutions to all of their needs.

Lodging at Big Bear Village will consist of tents and yurts. Students will bring their own sleeping bags. Instructors will sleep in or next to the tents and yurts.

Included with your tuition is our locally designed and screenprinted Whole Earth Nature School t-shirt, a custom nature journal, and your choice of pocket field guide. (Whole Earth Nature School stainless steel water bottle available for $20 cash at camp, while supplies last.)

Campers 13-16 will:
Practice target archery
Build survival shelters and have the opportunity to sleep in them
Make wooden spoons or bowls
Challenge themselves on the “Gnarly Hike”
Learn full-body natural camouflage
Play stealthy night games
Songs and stories around the big camp fire
Juggle bamboo swords
Assist with cooking and clean-up
Make fire by friction
Butcher whole rabbits for camp meals (This is an optional activity. A vegan alternative activity is also provided.)
Test their skills with a supervised overnight “survival outing”

And more!

Camp Artemis

Camp begins at 1pm on Sunday and ends at 5pm Friday.  Parents/relatives are invited to the Camp Expo Friday at 4pm.

“Camp Artemis is tremendously important to my child… Thank you. She feels empowered, capable, valued in a way no other program gives her.”

Artemis, protector of the forest, looked up from the backpack she was crafting of natural materials. One of her allies in the forest, a chickadee, had called her attention. A danger approached the forest, just a mile north of the creek where she had stopped to work. She let out a bird alarm of her own, and her handful of friends answered back. They gathered by the old bear tunnels with their bows in hand and listened for the next alarm. “Over here!” a squirrel barked just 100 paces away. They couldn’t see through the brush, but they knew the spot–something was in their huckleberry patch! Artemis and her friends glanced at each other and nodded before splitting up, disappearing silently into the brush. Whatever danger lie ahead, they would face it and defend the creatures of the forest together.

Camp Artemis is the ultimate Nature Camp, for Girls only! Spend a full week living with the forest at Beautiful Big Bear Camp. This week will be filled with amazing crafts, skills, and friends. Girls at Camp Artemis will learn amazing skills to help them become protectors of the forest, just like the mythical Artemis. We will practice our crafts together as we learn to make baskets and work with leather. We will learn to listen to the forest by studying the language of the birds. We will practice archery with real targets as well as foam arrows. Every evening campfire at Camp Artemis is lit in the ancient way with friction fire. Plus, learn to know the wild plant foods and medicines that grow in the forest. Along with all this there will be opportunities to push yourself to grow stronger and take on any challenge together with your fellow campers. Campfire conversations with your fellow campers will help you to discover self-esteem and confidence. Instructors will be there to guide you and empower you to take on these challenging skills and find the confidence that comes from knowing you can take care of yourself in the woods.

Camp will culminate with a ceremony to celebrate your strength, growth, and self-awareness.

Girls at Camp Artemis will also take part in crafting gourmet meals for camp made from local, organic ingredients.

Lodging at Camp Artemis will consist of tents and yurts. Students will bring their own sleeping bags.

Included with your tuition is our locally designed and screenprinted Whole Earth Nature School t-shirt, a custom nature journal, and your choice of pocket field guide. (Whole Earth Nature School stainless steel water bottle available for $20 cash at camp, while supplies last.)

*GENDER AT CAMP

Whole Earth Nature School is committed to providing gender-specific camps to help students learn about their gender in a mentored space, and our gender camps serve students based on their gender regardless of their assigned sex at birth, and those who are exploring their gender identity or expression. We encourage families to choose the camp appropriate to their child based on the child’s gender identity or gender expression. This position maintains our commitment to gender equality and justice and responds to modern advances in our understanding of gender identity and expression by welcoming cisgender, transgender, and non-binary kids into an environment welcoming to all.

Whole Earth Nature School staff respect a young person’s wishes to be called by a certain name and/or gender pronoun. That is why we invite all students to share their own name and preferred pronoun on the first day of the program. We recognize that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) or who are exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity need to know that Whole Earth Nature School is a safe space where they can be themselves and not worry about experiencing hurtful treatment from others.

Overnight Camps

6-day camps for ages 10-16 that run at Big Bear Camp in Walton, OR in late June/early July. $697, or $627 with our Early Bird discount until February 28th.

Leadership Training & Experience

We run a 1-week camp called “Young Mentors” that is a prerequisite for students to become “Coyotes-in-Training” and be part of future camps in a leadership role.  We also take applications for “Junior Coyotes,” teens who take on a leadership role at our overnight camps, for which “Young Mentors” is recommended but not required, depending on your experience. You can register for “Young Mentors” camp now; applications for taking on a leadership role will be available in March; we will announce via our newsletter and social media.

Scholarships

Nature connection is for everyone. That’s why we are committed to making nature camps accessible for as many families as possible. We are proud to offer need-based scholarships for families who would like to attend our programs. Discounts are available for up to half off the program cost.

Why CHoose US?

Experienced Professionals

Some of our instructors have been teaching with us for over a decade; others have immense experience in other teaching environments. All have a passion for mentoring students outdoors, and weeks of training annually.

Hands-on Attention

Our groups have an average ratio of 6 students per an instructor. Instead of a discipline policy, we study how to engage students meaningfully,  support students with trauma, and appreciate students for who they are.