We recently went out to Camp Sealth to meet up with Stacey Hinden, the director of Vashon Wilderness Program. Our little island has so many amazing programs that we really love getting a chance to share with you. Read on to learn more!
VH: From where do you hail?
Stacey: I’m a native New Yorker, but found home when I moved to Vashon 15 years ago.
VH: How did you land here on Vashon?
Stacey: Oh everyone talks about Vashon in NYC. Just kidding! It was six degrees of separation, so to speak. Our dear friend’s sister’s college roommate knew someone on Vashon and my husband stayed with her for a little bit while he started work out here and I packed up the house back east with my three little ones in tow. (Thanks Zabette Macomber for opening your home to us!) We fell in love with Vashon and its focus on families, nature, the arts, the slow life, and community.
VH: Tell us all about Vashon Wilderness Program…
Stacey: At the heart of our work at Vashon Wilderness Program is the way we mentor people to connect with nature, themselves, and community. Our teachings empower people to live, learn, and lead a life closely rooted to the land and one another. In this way, the natural world is our lens to explore the nature of being fully alive – full of joy, wonder, vitality, peace, passion, and care.
We’re out in the field all year round. In the summer we hold weeklong and day and overnight camps; during the rest of the year, we run weekly and monthly programs for 4-12 year olds, a monthly weekend adventure program (off-island) for teens, a late start program at Chautauqua, and a monthly family program. We also offer nature skills workshops for adults, as well as trainings for parents, educators, and other professionals in our renowned approach to nature connection and cultural repair, called Coyote Mentoring. We also host free community-wide events each season: Ancestor Feast, Storytelling Festival, and Spring Feast/Bizarre Bazaar.
Our awesome mentors, staff, board, Elder Council, volunteers, and donors all make it possible for us to touch the lives of 600 people each year and have a scholarship program so no one is ever turned away.
VH: How did the program get started?
Stacey: As a parent in the original program offered on Vashon by the Wilderness Awareness School (WAS), I experienced first-hand how alive, present, compassionate, fun, respectful, emotionally intelligent, and caring the mentors were with my children; and the more I spent time in nature with these folks, the more healthy and alive I began to feel. I wanted that for all children and every family. When WAS was no longer able to run a program on Vashon, I became part of a group of families that started the non-profit that is now VWP. Several of us trained at WAS and made sure that we could root this legacy of teachings on Vashon in perpetuity.
VH: What is your superpower?
Stacey: I love to help people feel welcomed and appreciated, and have a knack for speaking in foreign accents :-). VWP’s superpower is that we regenerate culture – we help heal and repair our disconnection from the Earth, ourselves, and each other.
VH: When you have company visiting the island, where do you like to take them?
Stacey: Shinglemill Creek and May Kitchen!
VH: What’s next for the program?
Stacey: We’re excited to grow our Coyote Kids Late Start Program, our Woodland Ways and Forest Tracker monthly programs, and our workshops and trainings for adults. And, we’ve got two new programs in the works — a weekend program for families with adoptive children, and an after-school program in partnership with Vashon Kids! Stay tuned!
VH: Finally, what’s the best thing you ever bought at Granny’s? 🙂
Stacey: A bunch of coffee bean burlap sacks!
Please go check out Vashon Wilderness Program to learn more about everything they offer!