W.I.L.D. Scholarship Recipients

scholarship

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the first 2 W.I.L.D. Scholarship recipients, Gavrielle Thompson and Kedyn Sierra.

Going on this trip feels so right. I’m ready to soak up all the new knowledge, life lessons, and memories that are on its way. Not only am I stoked for this trip, but I’m overflowing with gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity. “ Gavrielle

“I’m excited to be participating on the 30 day NOLS expedition this summer. I hope this experience will give me the opportunity to get closer wildlife and witness breathtaking views. On a more personal note, I hope this chance to experience a new part of the world will give me a new perspective of people and culture.” Kedyn

N.O.L.S. as awarded them both a scholarship so that the funds raised during the W.I.L.D. campaign will go towards supporting these two incredible young people and attend the month-long sea kayaking wilderness camp in Alaska this summer.

“NOLS is excited to support both Kedyn Sierra and Gavrielle Thompson in attending their NOLS Alaska Sea Kayaking courses this summer of 2015. They have demonstrated exceptional merit, and we believe firmly that they will make excellent students this summer. The goal of the NOLS scholarship is to help support students who we believe will make influential and important leaders in their communities and future careers, and who otherwise would not be able to attend. We strongly believe in Kedyn and Gavrielle’s abilities, and are excited to get to know them better this summer.”

A huge thank you to ETC Trips for helping in the process of selection.

UPDATE

I am so proud of Kedyn Sierra, who, thanks to your contributions and support, spent a month sea kayaking with NOLS in Alaska last summer. Please WATCH the video and you will see how the power of nature has shaped this incredible young individual.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”” Dr. Seuss

W.I.L.D. – Update

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It has been a little over 3 weeks since the end of the first W.I.L.D. fundraising campaign. With 86 funders, enough money was raised to send one under privileged teen to a month long NOLS sea kayaking immersion camp in the summer of 2015, airfare included.

Since then, I have been busy organizing the perks and looking for the lucky teen. Collaborating with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), an amazing organization based in San Francisco, that enables people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth to access the wilderness and develop an environmental stewardship, I can proudly say that before the end of the year, I will announce the recipient of the first W.I.L.D. Scholarship.

I am also working with an amazing artist, Nobuhiro Sato, on creating the brand identity for the Power of Nature to Restore of Human Spirit – STOP . BREATHE . RELAX. LISTEN, that will be featured on a new series of mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, tote bags and much more.  These are the mugs that the ones who have donated $50 and more will received.

For those who have contributed $20 and more, your THANK YOU postcards will be mailed next week.

The prints, which were part of the $250 and more contribution, will be sent before the end of year.

A big thank you to Next Adventure, Icebreaker, Voltaic Systems and everybody who has contributed to the campaign.

W.I.L.D.

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Anyone who I know who enjoys the outdoors or cares for the natural word can recall a time and place in their youth when they found themselves out there in nature and felt that connection, that primal bond that unites us to this planet and to life. For me that connection was so strong that I simply never wanted to let it go. When I was a kid, I just loved to roam the woods, fish the lakes, explore the ponds or climb the trees. It is in these moments that I felt alive. So my best childhood memories are from a great number of summer camps I went to. They were my definition of a candy store. And the things I learned during these magical summers still impact my life today.

I love the work I do and I know that people appreciate it too. But I have always felt that something really important was missing. If these experiences when you are a kid are so important in the development of our appreciation of nature, what was I doing to make sure that they experience the wilderness like I did when I was young? I knew I was not the type the bring children along on my trips but there had to be a way.  A couple of years ago I met Geoff Green and I got to hear from the children themselves how his program Students on Ice had changed their lives. Recently during a paddle, the pieces came together.

I am extremely please to announce the beginning of W.I.L.D. (see press release below) My expeditions and outings will now have for main purpose to raise funds and send underprivileged teens to wildness immersion camps. So to kick off my new venture, I will kayak from Victoria, BC to San Francisco in hope to raise 10K and send 2 teens on a month long sea kayaking NOLS wilderness camp. I plan on starting this 1,000 mile paddle mid-August.

Stay tuned for more news! 

PRESS RELEASE

 

W.I.L.D.

Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discovery

“a 1,000-mile paddle on the Pacific Coast to raise funds and send under-privilege teens to a wilderness immersion camp…”

INTRODUCTION

The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit is the belief that forms the foundation of Daniel Fox’s work. Through his personal experiences in the wilderness, his captivating stories and his “Minute of Nature” video series, he shares with us the impact that being with nature, even if only for a minute, can have on our digitally-driven lives. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes challenging us to stop and reflect, his stories, his photography and his videos help us pause and recall our own experiences with nature.

 

BELIEFS

W.I.L.D. (Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discoveries), a not-for-profit organization, believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology.

Unfortunately many of todays’ youth are immersed in a totally different reality. Living in front of the computer, the television omnipresent and socially connected via smartphones, they spend little time in nature and rarely disconnect from technology. If their lives exist on the “screen” now, it’s unrealistic to think they will have the desire to connect with the natural world as they mature. Yet, humans have always been connected with nature; 99.9% of our evolution comes from living in natural environments and our psychological underpinning is still entrenched in many ways with nature.

It’s interesting to note that the marketing world has leveraged our attachment to nature for a long time, selling products and services aimed at our “green” subconscious or pricing homes and resorts by the sea, in serene remote areas or in the mountains at higher rates than urban properties – bringing the ultimate luxury – being able to disconnect, relax and de-stress from our hectic lifestyle. We seem to have no problem in valuing nature when we need that rare escape but are not as willing to elevate nature as a more regular part of our lives.*

 

AIM

Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, our initial effort is targeted on giving teens, especially under-privileged ones between the ages of 16 and 20, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps. The aim being at helping them wanting to explore and discover the natural world and understand how experiencing the beauty and ultimate challenges, inherent in nature can lead to enhancing their self-confidence and help them develop valuable leadership skills.

Over time, we will be expanding our reach to include college students and business leaders.

 

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGNS

For our first campaign W.I.L.D. will raise the necessary funds to send a group of teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp** in Alaska in the summer of 2015. The wilderness immersion camp will be given by the internationally known and extremely well reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.).

“The most rewarding part of this course was getting out of my element, and experiencing nature at its fullest.” Thomas W. Southeast Alaska NOLS Sea Kayaking Grad

To kick off the campaign, Fox, an avid solo explorer and experienced kayaker who has paddled several hundred miles across all kinds of water will set-off from Victoria, British Columbia and paddle to San Francisco, California along the Pacific Coast. The 1,000-Mile Pacific Coast Paddle will take approximately 2 ½ months to complete.

Throughout his journey, Fox will be stopping along the route, speaking with the media and at events as well as posting his experiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

During his 2½-month expedition, social media and news releases targeted at under-privileged teens and their families will invite them to submit an entry to the competition on why would they want to experience a 30-day sea kayaking wilderness NOLS camp and what they hope to take away from their experience.

To quote Fox:

“No one can possibly understand how impactful and inspiring nature can be until they are actually immersed in it. I want to encourage in these teens an interest in discovering our world, ask them to describe what they think it would be like to step away from their day-to-day world, to feel the beauty and experience the challenges of a non-urban environment. 

We all know the first step in any journey is envisioning it. By having them write about it and describe why they want to be there; having them share what they long for, we have already moved one step closer to bringing nature into their lives. Our goal is to have their testimonials and experiences to reach, and positively impact other teens and their families and inspire them to Experience the W.I.L.D.”     

 

For inquiries contact Daniel Fox daniel@wildimageproject.com

 

ABOUT DANIEL FOX

A Wilderness Systems sponsored sea kayaker, a Kokatat Ambassador, a Deuter Ambassador and a Delorme Ambassador, Fox, a Canadian based in San Francisco, is a storyteller, explorer and photographer. He writes about nature an exploration and shares his experiences with the public through his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. (http://wildimageproject.com)

ABOUT N.O.L.S.

Since legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt founded the school in 1965, more than 230,000 students have graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the leader in wilderness education. Whether through field-based courses offered in some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world or classroom-based courses, the school provides transformative educational experiences to students of all ages. Graduates emerge as active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. To discover the NOLS experience or to bring a course to your business or organization, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.

 

* For additional reference on this topic, you can read more in these books and published articles: Blue Minds by Wallace Nichols, The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Your Brain on Nature by Alan C. Logan. Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California by the American Institutes for Research, Campfire Kids: Going Back to Nature with Forest Kindergartens, NOLS Research Wilderness Immersion Benefits. These all highlight the benefits of spending time with nature. More recently, an article in the Outside magazine, Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning explored how Japan is financially investing in making its citizen spend time in the forest.

** Since 1971, NOLS students have been exploring the wilds of Alaska in sea kayaks. Theres no better way to take in Alaska’s dramatic coastline than by gliding on the water. Read more information about the trip and organization here.

 

The Lack of Imagination

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. “ Henry David Thoreau

It was a beautiful winter day in the Alps. The sun was high, the mountains looked gigantic, the temperature was just right, and deep snow was everywhere. The parents were going to the village and I decided to stay behind with the kids. I figured I could take them out and go for a walk with the dog. We could also find a place and build a castle or dig a snow cave. The last thing I was worried about was to find something to do out there!

When I was a kid, winters were spent outside. The minute I would come back from school, I would slip into my big suit, put my hat, gloves and scarf on and hurry back to my tunnel. Our front yard would get so much snow, that with the cold, we would be able to dig our way into the heart of this tiny cold mountain and make ourselves a cave. My god did I spent so many hours in there! On weekends, we would venture into the woods to play hide and seek. Often, after tracking some animal prints for hours, re-enacting our own version of the Wild Kingdoms, we would reluctantly go back to the house, only to wait for the next morning and go out again. Of course we had television and computers, but playing games that originated from our fascinating imagination was always much more interesting. Whether alone or with others, there was never a shortage of ideas. And those snowball fights were epic!

What I experienced that weekend, though, was sad and tragic. There I was that morning, in the lobby, my jacket on, ready to smell the fresh mountain air. The kids were nowhere to be found. In fact one was at the computer, and the two others watched television. Nobody wanted to go out. Despite the bright sun blasting through the windows, each of them was staring hypnotically into their respective screens. I managed to pull away the one at the computer. The others, too entrenched and blasé gave no sign of even considering the outdoors.

Not even 30 minutes into our walk up the snowpath that I started having this feeling that the child was bored to death. While the dog was having the time of his life, barking at a small block of ice, picking it up and throwing it in the air, the child seemed lost. I took the lead and initiated the laborious task of building a hole. He was happy for no more than 20 minutes before finding himself bored again. Now not even an hour into our winter adventure that he told me that he wanted to go back. The minute that his boots were off and his jacket was on the floor, he went straight back to that computer and stayed there for hours.

What shocked me the most was not their short span of attention but their total lack of creating imaginary worlds. Children today don’t know what to do if it is not given to them. They don’t have the patience nor the ability to dig their way out of boredom. Living in an era of “Helicopter Parenting” everything is done for them. Their after-school schedules are so tightly organized that they don’t have anything to think about. So they move between school, structured activities, television and computer. And since imagination finds its energy when one is alone with his or her thoughts, children unfortunately have seldom time to develop it. As if this was not bad enough, “being alone” today in our culture, is something every one is trying to avoid, at any cost.

In her talk at Ted, “Connected but alone?”, Sherry Turkle talks about how we have come to see being alone as almost a disease or something that needs to be solved. So we solve it by inventing tools that give us the illusion of always being connected and therefore, never alone – social media sites, online video games, and of course the most obvious one, the smart phone. Solitude is such a taboo word that our incapacity of dealing with it pushes us to connect with anything simply to fill that void. When I was younger, these moments when I alone with my thoughts and dreams, when I was left to use my imagination, these were my favorites times. I have spent my entire life making sure never to loose them and to protect them. For me they are my most precious possession. They are my freedom.

Doing some research on the web, I found on Zen Habits… Breathe a post titled The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People. Interestingly enough, being alone is one of the most important aspect of creativity. Here are some quotes from the article:

Doing nothing has a way of synthesizing what is really important in my life and in my work and inspires me beyond measure. When I come back to work I am better equipped to weed out the non-essential stuff and focus on the things I most want to express creatively.” Ali Edwards

“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer–say, traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep–it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.” Mozart

“On the other hand, although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.” Einstein

“You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Kafka

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.” Tesla

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” Picasso

There is also Richard Louv, author of the Last Child in the Woods, who often talks about the connection between nature and imagination. He argues that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally “scared children straight out of the woods and fields,” while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors “safe” regimented sports over imaginative play. Louv states that this Nature Deficit Disorder has a negative effect on everything from the attention span, stress, creativity, cognitive development, and children’s sense of wonder and connection to the earth.

We are robbing our children from the magic of childhood, turning them into young adults. And the consequences could not be more tragic. For a child, imagination is crucial for dealing with the realities of life. It is a safe world where one can process hard emotions. What else is Dr.Seuss if not a giant repertoire of crazy stories about the hardships of life. Kids need to develop their own “crazy” world. They need to find time where there is only thing left to do, which is to explore their imaginary potential. Let them believe in fairies and the impossible, because at the end of the day, this is where dreams are born.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. “ Michelangelo

Early Wild Encounters

The air was fresh and clean. The forest was beautiful – different shades of red, orange, and yellow – on the ground as well as up in the trees. Fall in the Northeast is always spectacular. The leaves transform the wood into a magical mosaic of colors. Even as they fall, they retain their vivid pigments and create a thick colorful carpet that crisps under every footstep. We had been walking for a couple of hours, our eyes and ears, carefully tuned to the sounds of Nature, hoping to perhaps see deer, or partridge. My uncle had decided to stop. As we sat on a log, he whispered to me that animals are always there, we might not see them, but they see us. Curiosity is something that animals also posses. If you stop, stay still for moment, not making a noise, your reverse the dynamic and become the one looked for.

Shortly after his words, two partridges peeked from behind a tree, staring at us. Their curiosity gaining strength, they slowly walked out from their previously perfect camouflaged spot, their heads moving up and down, right to left, trying to size us and wonder who we were. I was amazed and fascinated. I was only a little boy.

I don’t know why I can remember this story has if it had happened yesterday, a simple walk in the forest, 25 years ago. But I do, and I have applied the lesson learned that day every time I am in Nature, whether scuba diving, mountain biking, or simply walking – Stop and they will come to you.

We never know what children will remember as they grow up. It is always fascinating to hear someone talk about a smell, an image, a feeling, a word, they remember when they were young and transformed the way they see the world.

That is why it is so important for parents to create opportunities for children to experience, live, and feel Nature. There is nothing more beautiful than to witness the eyes of a child experiencing the Wild for the first time. There is nothing more rewarding than to see adults become children again as they experience their first Wild Encounter.

Yesterday, two parents took their children out on the water. Neither them, or the children, had experience, and although it would have been easier to get on one of those tourist motor boat, they decided to go kayaking. After a little crash course, off we went. I was only tagging along to take some pictures but soon was reminded of the importance of what was happening. It doesn’t take much to create a sense of adventure. Simply do something you normally don’t and you will soon feel like Captain Kirk saying: “To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

We had just left the beach and already every splash, every shadow was a source of excitement. When that first sea lion appeared, it is as if the world had stopped and a door to a new one had opened. A world where there was no television, no video games, no cell phones, but filled with wonders and richness, where Man is part of Nature, connected to it, born from it.

Back at the shop, everyone was still talking about that moment when a sea lion passed under the kayak, when another poked his head out of the water, when a cormorant flew by, or when a penguin appeared. Those moments are the ones that will be remembered forever. Each will have their own version of what happened that day, and together, their memories will spread through friends and family, making this little adventure eternal.

The goal is not to make every child become a Jacques Cousteau or a David Attenborough, but simply to plant that seed of awareness, to create a connection.  Once a child has been touched, he or she will never see the world in the same way.