Salish Seals

2019-20 Season

Congratulations Salish Seals on completing your fourth season of Explorers Club (EC)! Mentors appreciate your willingness to play and connect with each other and the natural world. As the group moves into their fifth year in Explorers Club, mentors look forward to the Seals continuing to deepen both sides of their wilderness toolbox: socio-emotional and technical skills. The group will be diving more deeply into carving, fire creation, and will be starting the skill of shelter building. There will also be a focus on the history of the Land of Noisy Waters and a number of explorations to secret forests, quiet lakes, and marine eco-preserves.

Please look over the schedule upon registration and give us as much advance notice as possible if there are any conflicts for your child attending. For more information, please visit our Missed Days and Make Up Policies. Please know that these dates are subject to change due to inevitable circumstances. We will update you if any dates do change!

Be sure to use the Be Prepared Checklist when getting ready for each Explorers Club outing. Wild Whatcom Mottos guide much of our program so please read them over with your Explorer.


Mentor Contact Info:


Salish Seals 2019-2020 Schedule


Outing #1: Saturday, September 28, 2019: 10:00-3:00PM

SKILLS: Fire by Friction # 1 at Lake Padden Park

Of all the ways to start a fire, fire by friction may be one of the most misrepresented in our media. It requires much more skill than rubbing sticks together! On this day, the group will begin to absorb the true skill and difficulty in making fire by using materials found in our natural environment. We will spend most of this outing harvesting materials and making bow drill kits. The Girls Explorers Club motto “Slow is Fast,” will be present for much of the day, as the Explorers learn the slow and steady nature of making their own tools. There may also be an opportunity to build a fire or have a stove on this day.

Directions: Drop off and Pick up at Lake Padden Park, east entrance near the dog park. From I-5 take exit 252 (Samish Way) and head south on South Samish Way for 2.4 miles. Turn right onto Lakeshore Drive (Lake Padden Golf Course/Dog Park (east) entrance). Continue to the end of the road and the parking lot near the dog park. Map.


Outing #2: Sunday, October 27, 2019: 10:00-4:00PM

EXPLORATION: Follow Whatcom Creek

As salmon swim upstream, so we will be walking upstream on this urban exploration of salmon habits and habitat, following Whatcom Creek through downtown and into Whatcom Falls Park on an urban hike. We'll begin near the creek's mouth at Maritime Heritage Park and follow it through the city, discussing this waterway's history and human interface, asking lots of questions and making observations along the way. We'll consider how salmon swim and struggle, taking note of the challenges they face (and likely see and discuss some human struggle as well); play new trail games; caretake the streamside by picking up litter; harvest rosehips for Vitamin C honey; drink cocoa and nettle/licorice tea, and learn about the totem fish of our region. The girls will be navigators this day, managing the map and figuring out how to travel the creek through downtown. We look forward to sharing the fascinating history of "Whatcoom, the Place of Noisy Waters.

Directions: Please note that drop off and pick up locations are different. Drop off at Maritime Heritage Park, in front of the environmental learning center: 514 W Holly St. Mentors will be waiting and waving. Pick up at Whatcom Falls Park entrance off Lakeway, near the playground and fish hatchery


Outing #3: Saturday, November 23, 2019: TIME TBD

SERVICE: Agate Pond Preserve

Explorers Club is all about healthy mentorship across ages. On this day we're fortunate to experience mentoring from an extraordinary community member, Patricia Otto. Tricia has transformed her 100 acre property above Lake Whatcom into a nature preserve, focusing on creating habitat, enhancing wetlands, building nesting boxes, making brush piles, and restoring the forest to health. It has worked! Bear, opossum, chipmunk, wood duck, cougar and more – pretty much every bird and mammal native to this area – have visited her preserve. Tricia is a shining example of stewardship and volunteerism, and on this day we'll both learn from and help her as we head up the mountain behind her house and work on trail building and other restoration projects.

Directions: To respect Tricia's privacy, her address will be given out in the outing reminder email.


Outing #4: Sunday, December 15, 2019: 10:00-3:00PM

SKILLS: Shelter Building and Art of Carving II in the Hundred Acre Woods

This is a season for following GEC traditions! Every group learns how to construct a basic forest shelter while they're in GEC, which is part of learning basic earth skills to survive and thrive. We'll gather at the Hundred Acre Wood and talk about why shelter is so important, then spend the day learning techniques and skills, borrowing what the forest provides to construct debris huts. With mentor supervision, we will also be using knives and a handsaw on this day. Dress warmly, but also expect to warm up during the building process.

Directions: From I-5, take exit 250 (Old Fairhaven Parkway) and head west. Turn left on 24th St at Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital. Proceed several blocks until you come to Willis St. (long uphill driveway on left, trailhead on right).


Outing #5: Saturday, January 11, 2020: 10:00-3:00PM

SKILLS: Fire by Friction #2 at Larrabee State Park (via Main Day Use Parking Lot)

For many thousands of years, the skill of fire building was passed on from elder to youth. Over time, the young people grew in skill to become masters themselves. While we won't achieve fire building mastery on this day, we will certainly continue to hone our skills. Working off of our two previous lessons on tinder bundle collection and fire-kit creation, we will take the knowledge that we have learned and see if we can't make some fire. We'll also do some leadership activities, play games, and leave lots of time for free exploration as well!

Directions: From I-5 N, take exit 250 for Old Fairhaven Pkwy and turn west onto Old Fairhaven Pkwy. Follow Old Fairhaven Parkway toward Fairhaven and turn L on 12th St./Chuckanut Drive. Drive south on Chuckanut Dr. for 5 miles. Turn R into Larrabee State Park. Follow the road to the left and meet in the day use parking. NOTE: WASHINGTON STATE REQUIRES A DISCOVERY PASS FOR PARKING. To avoid a ticket, stay with your car. Click here for the Google Map location.


Outing #6: Sunday, February 2, 2020: 10:00-4:00PM

TEAM BUILDING: Rocks and Talks at Semiahmoo

Semiahmoo is the northwest edge of Whatcom County and the United States. We'll spend the day doing team building activities, practicing our fire building skills, and exploring this site that has seen human habitation for thousands of years. This spit divides ocean currents of the Straits of Georgia and the calm waters of Drayton Harbor are where many fish, birds, and mammals meet. We will learn about which peoples have called Semiahmoo home in the past and in the present and take in spectacular views of East Whatcom’s wonders: the snow-capped North Cascades.

Directions: Pick up and Drop off will be at Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Ave.


Outing #7: Saturday, March 14, 2020: 9:30-1:30PM

SERVICE: Restoration Sites: Connelly Creek Nature Area and Happy Valley Park

Our official EC restoration sites have changed dramatically since we started working on them. Blackberries that were once well over head-high have been chopped down to nothing and many of their persistent roots have been dug out. Hundreds of pounds of trash has been removed, the reed canary grass has been covered with bark mulch, native species are beginning to be planted on the banks of the creek, and the alder are growing markedly faster than our Explorers.

With the help of Bellingham City Parks and Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), we are contributing to the very important work of salmon habitat restoration. Salmon are keystone species of the Northwest, playing important roles in every ecosystem and community they interact with. They are economically, culturally, and spiritually significant to Indigenous peoples, including our Lummi and Nooksack neighbors. Our restoration work creates a positive ripple effect that is felt in communities beyond just salmon, and gives us an incredible opportunity to be part of a legacy of stewardship and protection.

Directions: From I-5 drive west on Old Fairhaven Parkway for 0.1 of a mile. Turn right onto 30th St. and drive for 0.3 of a mile. Turn right on Donovan Ave. and drive for 0.1 of a mile. Turn right onto 32nd Ave. and drive for 0.2 of a mile. Turn left into Bellingham Park & Ride (WSDOT) Westside. Map.


Outing #8: Sunday, April 19, 2020: 9:00-3:00PM

EXPLORATION: North Fork Nooksack Natural Research Area

On this spring day, the group will be adventuring to one of Whatcom County's best-kept secrets. Right before mile marker 44 on the Mt Baker Highway stands a 1,400-acre forest that was set aside in 1937 and has never been logged. We will find ourselves in a cathedral of 700-plus-year-old western red cedars, Douglas firs, and western hemlocks, many of them with trunks 8 to 10 feet in diameter. While in this sacred place, we will spend time wandering amongst these ancient giants, learning about the different stages of forest growth, and talking about the role of logging in the history of Bellingham.

Directions: Pick up and Drop off will be at Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Ave.


Outing #9: Sunday, May 17, 2020: 10:00-3:00PM

EXPLORATION/SKILLS: Squires Lake

For their last outing of the season, the Seals will meet at this 80-acre park to explore and connect at the height of spring. Squire's Lake Park is home to a beautiful lake, stinky skunk cabbage, active beaver pond, and plenty of other wildlife. We’ll find out how this land was preserved for all to enjoy, search for signs of beaver, and learn about the wetland habitats that beavers create. We will also spend some time intentionally checking in together as a group, doing some team-bonding activities, and spending time in free exploration.

Directions: Head south on I-5 to exit 242 (Nulle Road). Turn left, heading east off the exit towards Old Highway 99 to the parking lot for the Squires Lake Trailhead. You'll find mentors waiting at waving at 170 Old Hwy 99 N.