Laughing, learning, collaborating, and community building – the indicators of a tremendously successful program

By: Katie Strahl and Nina Aragon

This February, Basecamp Cascadia, Team Naturaleza, She Colors Nature and Community Snow Observations joined forces to put on Winter in the Wild Community Day – with financial support from the Community Foundation of North Central Washington and pizza from Dan’s Food Market in Leavenworth. 

A little about these organizations:

  • Basecamp Cascadia’s mission is to provide an outdoor community space for all.
  • Team Naturaleza is an organization that unites Latinx families in the Wenatchee area and connects them to the outdoors by removing the barriers of cost, transportation, and language.
  • She Colors Nature is a community created on social media and grown organically in the mountains and trails around Washington State.  Her focus is to introduce more Black moms and kids to finding their love for the trails.
  • Community Snow Observations is a community science campaign aimed at improving our estimates of snowpack and downstream water resources. 
  • The Community Foundation of North Central Washington is a philanthropic organization that supports charitable causes throughout Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties.

Individually these organizations share a focus in connecting North Central Washington community members to the outdoors, but collectively they unite to create a more diverse and inclusive winter outdoor community.

The purpose of this event was to “cultivate a sense of place for all families in the outdoor community by providing support and a space that encourages winter connection through community building, recreation and snow science”  -Katie Strahl, Basecamp Cascadia

The all-female leadership team included Chelsea Murphy with She Colors Nature, Elisa Lopez with Team Naturaleza, Nina Aragon with Community Snow Observations, and  Katie Strahl and Chelsea Behymer with Basecamp Cascadia, who began to percolate ideas last fall of how they could truly connect more community members to winter through snow science and recreation. They knew they wanted to move away from a typical monocultural event, but instead intentionally reflect the community they lived and served in. 

I would have to say it was so special to be in a community with folks open to both learn and share different ways of knowing the forest we were able to experience together on snowshoes. Ultimately, the landscape is the greatest teacher, but it takes unique/diverse/many perspectives to wholly see and understand it. 

-Chelsea Behymer, Basecamp Cascadia Outdoor Educator

Forty individuals gathered on a stormy Saturday in February. Basecamp Cascadia resides on the crest of the rain shadow in a diverse ecosystem and as clouds moved in and out that morning the excitement of the arriving community members made the setting grow brighter, until by the end of the day, bluebird skies emerged and the sun burst through the waning gray just in time for Dan’s pizza and sledding. Participants learned about the local ecology on a snowshoe trek, observed snow crystals up close, and learned how to submit snowpack observations using metric probes and their phone with the Community Snow Observations app.

Participants at Winter in the Wild 2022

I love the idea behind citizen scientists! I think for a long time I was never able to see myself in this fight for environmental justice because I am not a scientist and my background has nothing to do with the outdoors. In recent years I have gotten outside more consistently… and I now understand the importance of everyone contributing in different ways – some big and others small in scientific work. We need everyone to get involved and get outside while continuing to contribute to learning on every level. We need nature as much as she needs us.

-Chelsea Murphy, She Colors Nature

The free-of-charge family event included instruction in both Spanish and English, and included participants of all ages to reduce cost, language, and childcare barriers for families seeking to experience nature in the winter. The Community Foundation of North Central Washington reimbursed participants for transportation expenses and provided Discover Passes to each family to further reduce the barrier to subsequent family outdoor excursions. 

Any time we are providing environmental education we make sure that the keywords and concepts are available in both languages. This allows people to continue the informal environmental education conversations at home. I remember growing up, going on field trips, learning in English, and not being able to describe to my parents what I learned at school because I did not know how to say watershed, riparian, or shrub-steppe in Spanish.

-Elisa Lopez, Team Naturaleza

Experiences like Winter in the Wild 2022 make up the lifeblood that bonds and nourishes our community – much like the seasonal snowpack is the lifeblood of our home ecosystem and agricultural economy.

All of us on the leadership team look forward to continuing to see this program grow. If you are interested in getting involved or contributing resources to this work, please reach out to

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