Wayfinders Summer Program

We're creating a pipeline for Oregon's future science and environmental leaders!

Four Key Elements

Using four unifying elements, we set out on a series of environmental STEAM-based excursions that emphasize
life science, ecology, community, and cultural history.

  • ​Sharing Our Stories: Exposure to Black and Brown Environmentalists
  • Stewardship of the Land
  • Watershed System and Relationship to the Land
  • Identity Affirmation and Confidence Building

Is My Child Ready To Join Wayfinders?

We recognize that trying an immersive outdoor program perhaps for the first time, and being in a new space can be scary for both children and guardians. To that end, Camp ELSO works to create a safe and affirming space for all children regardless of experience and level of exposure to the outdoors.

Whether or not your child has previously attended Wayfinders, our Camp Guides, staff, and professional group leaders are trained in safety, and we actively work to evaluate and improve our cultural relevancy to connect children with nature through sharing lived experience and history as folks of color.

In general your child is ready if they are willing to follow directions, ready to respect nature, themselves, our leaders and other participants , but most important is that they possess a general willingness to try something new and be outside of their normal environment and comfort zone.

Our Wayfinders values are based in Afrocentric principles to teach and model what it means to be in community with one another. We practice restorative justice when challenges arise, and actively work to hold space for each child to be themselves and bring their full self to Wayfinders.

Camp ELSO was established to support underserved students that are interested in environmental science and STEAM, so we encourage kids to let out their inner geek and to embrace their natural curiosity. If your child has a general interest in being outdoors, nature, science, and exploration, then they will love Wayfinders.

Our hope is to provide a plethora of opportunities for your child to connect with the environment around them, to be introduced to or deepen their understanding of indigenous history, and to see themselves as future science leaders.

Your child will be in a multi-age setting and able to learn from and interact with kids from across the city, learning and engaging at their own level.

Summer 2020

Greetings Families!
We are excited to share that Camp ELSO will be launching an all new online registration portal. Registration for Summer 2020 will begin late February. Please review the summer session dates below and check back after February 15, 2020 for session descriptions. To stay up to date email info@campelso.org and you will be added to our newsletter mailing list.

Storytelling: Nature's Stories [K-4]  

In this introductory to Storytelling session, participants will begin to explore their own narratives and experiences with and within nature. Youth will build new connections to the natural world and the outdoors by engaging with nature through mindfulness and open-time play. Participants will delve into the narratives of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and how they maintain their connection to nature including food/medicine, stewardship, and agriculture. On Culmination Day (Friday) participants will display and share their narratives with their families.

Storytelling: Environmental Justice and Advocacy [5-8]  

In this Storytelling session, participants will explore their communities’ and their own narratives and experiences with and within nature. The focus is youth climate activism and advocacy, participants will learn how to turn narrative into action. Youth will experiment with different mediums and methods of advocacy, while thinking about how to incorporate their own lived experiences into service learning, and why narratives and storytelling is an important component in environmental justice. During Culmination Day (every Friday) participants will learn about local movements and projects that they and their families can participate in, and have an opportunity to share their own projects and stories.

Community Science [K-8]  

Participants will learn about the many different ways that communities study and contribute to science - including place-based knowledge. Youth will engage in a hands on community science project, practice different methods of data collection while thinking about who is considered a scientist and what it means to be a scientist outside of the lens of dominant culture/Western academia. Participants will reflect on what it means for them and their community to participate in science and how to redefine science.

Photojournalism [K-8]  

Equipped with digital cameras, participants will set off on a week long experience to capture some of the NW’s most beautiful natural spaces and local cultural historical landmarks. Through a camera lens, they will engage in environmental journalism - participants will learn what it means to be an advocate for environmental justice through recording changes within their own communities in the form of photography. Participants will begin to think about the various systems and relationships to and within nature and how they impact each other. Youth will reflect on how human activity impacts the climate and how climate change impacts humans.

Waterways [K-8]  

Participants will learn about their local waterways and the interdependent relationships that rely and have relied on our local waterways. Youth will think about how colonization has historically impacted native species and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and how these communities continue to be impacted today. Participants and families will then have an opportunity to learn and connect with local groups that do work to restore water systems, quality, and ecosystems during Culmination Day (every Friday).


For questions, contact Asia Saechao at asia@campelso.org