To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

Growing Up Wild Scholarship Program

Congratulations to the 2016 Growing Up Wild Scholarship winner  – Quinn Wilson!

Read his winning essay below:

I grew up in Ojai playing in the outdoors hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and venturing to the ocean to surf and sail. When I was ten I joined a wildlife and outdoor leadership program called Fox Trails lead by Casey Murphy. He taught us about surviving in the wild and how the Chumash people lived off the land, and he instilled a love of the wilderness right where we lived in Ojai. I think the most memorable experience was a daily ritual we called “Sit Spot.” Every morning he had us go alone out in the wilderness and find a spot to just sit. I would spend 15-45 minutes sitting quietly. I learned how much was really going on in the small space around me. Most of the time was just quiet time. I eventually learned the magic of quiet patience. One morning I was sitting on a log on top of a small cliff and after about 30 minutes of just sitting, listening, observing, a small red fox walked up just five feet from me. He looked straight at me. We shared a moment gazing at one another and then he slowly went on his way. As as simple as that experience was it remains one of the most incredible memories of my life.

Over the years I ventured into the backcountry and learned a variety of skills, from making my very first primitive bow made from a white oak stave to eventually hunting rabbits with that very same bow. I never actually shot a rabbit, but the experience preparing, stalking, waiting was always very raw. The idea of having developed the understanding to survive by hunting a wild animal really made me think a lot about the power I was wielding and that something as unique as that required an accountability to more than my family or my community. The consequence was significant and just between the animal and me.

As I progressed in my ability to live off the land I took a week long trip into the Sespe venturing off employing an old military technique Casey taught us using a tarp and some twine to serve as both backpack and tent, fashioned to carry all of my individual supplies for the week. At the end of that trip I thought a lot differently about my self. I developed what I believe is a unique self-confidence. I see it in the smallest of things; a comfort walking though a tall, grassy, wild field and knowing what’s under my feet, traveling to other places in the world and having an understanding of my surroundings when someone asks, “I wonder what kind of plant this is?” Or when I’m with others and see a snake and they wonder if it’s poisonous or dangerous? These seemingly small events are when I notice how the experiences in the backcountry uniquely shaped my perspective, my appreciation, and my understanding of my place in the world.

The OVLC  “Growing Up Wild” Scholarship is a program aimed at understanding and growing the relationships young people form with wild lands and open space. Funded by an anonymous donor, the program provides a scholarship of $250 toward continuing education for one of the next generation of conservationists. The scholarship is awarded to the high school senior that best describes what it is like to grow up “wild”. Applicants are asked to write a short essay of no more than 500 words that describe how one or more formative experiences in the outdoors has affected you, your world view,  and your relationship with wild lands.

Previous Growing Up Wild Scholarship Winner: Callie Little