The Woods Project
- Children & Youth
- Education & Literacy
Location2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite AHouston, TX 77098 United States
The vision of The Woods Project is that one day all students will have the social and emotional skills required for success in school and life. Our mission is to create wilderness education and exploration experiences that develop critical behaviors needed for disadvantaged students to achieve success in school and life.
The Woods Project (TWP) offers underserved students the kind of access to outdoor spaces and recreational activities that are more common among their higher-income peers. By challenging students to spend time outside, rely on their peers, step up to leadership roles, spend days or weeks away from their families and mobile devices, understand and care for the natural environment, and undertake the physical and mental challenges of outdoor recreation, TWP helps students develop important character traits (independence, distress tolerance, critical thinking, social competence/ adaptability, perseverance, curiosity and environmental awareness) that correlate strongly with success in school, in the workplace and in life. Beginning in 2006 with 11 students, TWP now serves nearly 700 students each year.
The Woods Project’s year-round educational program is comprised of:
- Weekly after-school club programs, hosted at a majority of our Houston school partners. Club lessons, led by TWP staff, focus on outdoor themes and skills as well as leadership development. They encourage the development of communication skills, teamwork and critical thinking through a focused curriculum and introduce concepts of wilderness education, camping skills, conservation and environmental
- Weekend overnight camping trips, led by staff, teachers and volunteers, include environmental service projects, hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking in the national forests and park areas near Houston. These activities are intended to improve confidence, self-reliance, and leadership skills while giving the students a preview of the challenges they will encounter during the summer
- Two-week summer immersion programs in wilderness areas such as: Yosemite National Park, Glacier National Forest, Donner Pass/Desolation Wilderness, the Apostle Island region of Lake Superior, and most recently Buffalo River National park in the Ozarks in Arkansas. Each trip includes eight days of guided, place-based field education, as well as, an intensive six-day, extended wilderness backpacking or sea kayaking adventure led by trained volunteers. Students participate in wilderness recreation experiences including hiking, paddling, camping, rock climbing, team building exercises, and are taught essential camping skills such as: how to use and care for their gear, survival skills and "Leave No Trace" principles. They also learn about the history of the area, engage in hands- on forest ecology and carbon lessons and have several opportunities to reflect upon and share their experience. Students establish a strong connection with nature, develop relationships with mature, stable adults outside of the family structure and emerge from the program with a stronger sense of the wider world, their ability to function effectively in it, and a renewed drive to succeed against all odds. Through conservation education and exploration of public lands where people of color are significantly underrepresented, our students gain an appreciation for our natural resources and develop the tools they need to find their voices to work toward change.