Brooks and Kay Wade, married 14 years and owners of Jocassee Lake Tours, founded Jocassee Wild Outdoor Education in 2018. While doing tours they realized how the Jocassee Gorge provides a classroom for children and adults to learn about what the area has to offer. The mission of Jocassee Wild Outdoor Education is to “educate youth and adults in order to make personal, ecological and social connections with the importance of the wild, pristine, and natural spaces of Lake Jocassee and the Jocassee Gorges ecoregion.”
The nonprofit has three areas of interest: Loon Research, Jocassee Wild Naturalist Program and the Jocassee Wild Child Program. About once a week, the Jocassee Wild Child Program takes up to 20 students on the lake in a pontoon boat. The students typically come from charter schools, private schools or are homeschooled. The Wades structure each experience with an overview of the Jocassee Gorge, then allow time for the kids to climb, explore, swim and jump. They also incorporate art and music into the experience.
“Our goal is to provide a place to let children learn about the Jocassee Gorges as a unique and critically important ecoregion,” Kay Wade says. “You can learn about geology, mountain building, the water cycle, stream ecology, the gorges important role in climate change, hydroelectric energy, and rainforest ecology.”
The nonprofit operates with seven volunteers and one part-time employee. The Wades need more volunteers to raise funds, research and write grants and help with communication. They’d also welcome assistance identifying local schools and groups for the program.