We are connected to nature. Each day we stand on this earth, nourished by the light of the sun, refreshed by clean water, and breathing fresh air. Yet our current culture seems to have largely forgotten to acknowledge this connection, creating separation that has imbalanced our entire ecosystem.
Our Mission: At Vilda, we are dedicated to facilitating meaningful connection to the natural world.
We believe this is accomplished by actually spending time outdoors, with our hands in the dirt and feet on the ground, planting trees, clearing brush, finding frogs in a creek, making a meal out of wild plants, learning how to turn a piece of wood into an instrument, or creating natural dyes with berries.
VILDA: What’s in A Name?
Our founder Mia grew up sailing in the Finnish archipelago with her family. Each summer, they would head out to sea for a few months, leaving the comforts of showers, televisions, and reliable refrigeration behind. With her brothers and parents, Mia spent week after week in a fairly small space while visiting islands inhabited by friendly fishermen, seabirds and small saunas. Talk about team-building. On the islands, the kids would spend entire days exploring coves and forests, catching fish, swimming, inventing games, and making toys out of natural found objects. It was a truly timeless experience each summer, where the cares of the modern world hardly existed, and things like weather and wind became much more important.
Mia appreciates now how important this time in nature was to her life, how much it taught her and how much it is a foundation for her. Vilda is named for the boat her family sailed, Vildanden, Finnish for wild duck. It’s the little boat out in the elements setting its course on a lighthouse. At Vilda, we create opportunities for journeys in nature that become guiding lights on our path through life’s changes.
At Vilda, we facilitate the development of healthy relationships to the self, between participants, and to the natural world. We respect each child in our programs as competent and unique. Our instructor to student ratios are very intimate, allowing each participant to be known and cared for personally. We support youth on their individual journey to follow their own heart; all of our instructors are themselves on the same path. We see ourselves as service-oriented guides who support the connection each child already has to the natural world; the tools and techniques we use are chosen to foster connection, not just to provide education.
Through our programs, children can expect to :
- come to know their local environment as an extended part of their home
- feel a sense of belonging on the earth
- form lasting friendships and connect with other families
Our work is informed and supported by a long lineage of teachers who have come before us. Visit our Support page to read our words of gratitude.
Gratitude is central to everything we teach at Vilda. This vital practice brings us into the present moment, builds our relationships in community and to the wild world, and even improves our mental health.
We wish to honor our colleagues, teachers, and the teachers of teachers who have paved the way for nature connection education today. Among those who have influenced our work are Jon Young, Penny Livingston and James Stark, Tom Brown Jr., Martin Prechtel, Tony Deis, and Sky Snyder. We have also learned from the work of the Wilderness Youth Project, the Wilderness Awareness School, the International Scouting Movement, and Waldorf Schools.