Jocassee Wild Child Outdoor Education brings children into the Jocassee Gorges – by way of Lake Jocassee – to experience classroom curriculum in a real-world setting. By giving young children ample opportunities to interact with their local environment at an early age, they learn to become environmental stewards. It’s our goal as naturalists to educate young people about rare and diverse animals and plants that live in the Jocassee Gorges as well as more ordinary species, to educate them about the immaculate upper Savannah watershed in which they live, and help them understand the rich history of the mountains and the people who have called this place home for thousands of years. They also learn how healthy personal habits lead to a healthy lifestyle, an important component of learning to take care of our planet. This knowledge can encourage a new generation to preserve and protect one of the world’s 50 last great places…not one to destroy!
Jocassee Wild Child Outdoor Education programs are structured to meet SC state standards.
Take a look at our FAQ section or call us at 864-280-5501 to learn more.
Current programs include the following.
Did you know that the Jocassee Gorges are home to the fastest animal on the planet? The animal with the best sense of smell on earth? The tree with the largest leaves in North America? And the deepest lake in South Carolina? The Jocassee Gorges can be an extreme environment for animals and plants to live in. From rushing mountain streams, to high cliff faces, to hot dry rock faces, plants and animals must have special adaptations to survive here. We will look for some of the best survivors in this environment and examine how they do it.
The Jocassee Gorges receive more rain than anywhere east of the Mississippi River. In fact, this area is actually considered a temperate rainforest, second only to the Pacific Northwest in rainfall for the continental United States! So what is a temperate rainforest and what can we expect to find here? We will look at how our mountains interact with the water cycle to produce lots of rain. We will also go on a search for evidence of our rainforest climate.
If These Mountains Could Talk
If these mountains could talk, what would they tell us? Would they tell us how they got here? What would they tell us about the people who have been here and what they did while they were here? What stories will they tell about us? The Cherokee called the rocks the ‘story keepers’. As part of one of the oldest chain of mountains on the planet, these rocks have witnessed over a billion years of history unfold, from the drifting and colliding of continental plates to the days they reached so high they could touch the clouds. If these mountains could talk, maybe they would tell us tales of dinosaurs and past climate shifts that reset our planet. They would certainly tell us tales of the people who came here because the rivers had carved through the rock, creating the perfect valley for abundant life. Join us as we learn to read the stories the rocks of our mountains have to tell us.
The Giving Trees
The forests of the Jocassee Gorges provide the foundation for much of the life that thrives here. It is no wonder that the Cherokee called the trees “the givers”. Not only do trees provide food and shelter for humans and animals, they also provide many valuable ecosystem services. Journey back in time with us as we examine the forests of old when the American Chestnut was king, then travel into our present day forests to see what trees are here and how they serve this ecological community. We will go through the process of identifying, measuring and biologically assessing a tree for its value. Of course, we will also be checking out the aesthetic value of trees as we sit in the company of trees and enjoy a nice warm cup of white pine needle tea.
The Weather of Our Climate
The Jocassee Gorges are a part of the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Over time, this wall of mountains has provided a buffer for plants and animals as they have faced shifts in both weather and climate. After collecting weather data, we will use historic records to compare today’s weather patterns with patterns from the recent past. We will also take a look at how this topography has protected some plants that are present here today, like the Oconee Bell, as remnants of the glacial era. Finally, we will examine if and how effective these mountains might be as a buffer in the face of future climate changes.
Survivor: Jocassee Gorges Edition
How does a fern from the cloud forests of Mexico survive in the mountains of South Carolina? How can a plant make food without sunlight? How does an organism survive on a rock face that can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit? In this place of rich topography and abundant rainfall, the Jocassee Gorges are full of countless habitats and microhabitats. Each of these spaces is home to organisms that have developed special structures to survive and reproduce in their specific environment. Team up with us to discover how plants and animals survive in these unique conditions.
$50 per person for ages 4-14; $55 per person for ages 15 and up
Entry fees into Devils Fork State Park are extra: $4 ages 4-14; $8 ages 15-64; $5 ages 65 and older
Student discounts may be available upon request.
All programs are structured to emphasize personal safety and woodland ethics.