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Sharing Joy in the Outdoors

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Nov 29, 2017 10:40 AM |

At Pinnacle Explorations, the goal is simple: to help kids have a good time outside. With the help of WTA's Gear Library, Pinnacle is able to offer hands-on, outdoor workshops at an accessible cost for youth and families.

What began as a daydream in a nature-loving middle schooler’s head has grown into a reality for Sean Chan, founder and executive director of Pinnacle Explorations Outdoor School. Since 2014, Pinnacle Explorations has provided hundreds of Seattle-area youth with a chance to connect with their local environment—and learn a little bit along the way.

Growing up in New York City, Sean didn’t develop a fondness for nature, teaching and community service until a seventh-grade visit to the forests of New Hampshire. Inspired by that first major connection with green space, Sean has taken it upon himself to provide a similar opportunity for urban Seattle youth.

Photo by Sean Chan.JPGPinnacle Explorations staff had a fantastic time leading a small group of families on their first snowshoeing trip to Gold Creek Pond. Families had the opportunity to learn the basics of snowshoeing while borrowing gear from WTA's gear library. Photos by Sean Chan.

Now in its third year, Pinnacle offers after-school enrichment programs for K-5 students, weekend family outings and an adventure-filled summer camp for the local community. All Pinnacle programs contain an outdoor exploration component in nearby parks and urban green spaces and hones core values such as environmental stewardship, diversity and inclusion, as well as compassion and service. Summer-camp courses offered through Pinnacle include garden-to-table cooking, survival skills, art in nature and geocaching.

The goal of the program is simple: to help kids have a good time outside. On top of hands-on, outdoors discovery, Pinnacle also offers a strong curriculum of earth science topics, ranging from space and the solar system to glaciers and fossils.

“We’re trying to instill a love of nature and a feeling of stewardship no matter what they do in the future,” Sean said.

Before leading a Pinnacle winter outing for families to Gold Creek Pond, Sean joined WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training program on our snowshoeing workshop. Pinnacle makes use of WTA’s gear library to help outfit its trips. Having access to free tents, sleeping bags and snowshoes has allowed Pinnacle to keep costs down and pass on the savings in the form of scholarships for its program.

“The trip was fantastic! “ said Anne M., who joined the Gold Creek trip with her kids. “It was an amazing opportunity to get outside and try something new with the kids. Its not something I would’ve felt very comfortable doing on our own, nor would I have known what gear to get, but Sean made the whole experience smooth and removed any anxiety. The kids had a wonderful first time snowshoeing and ending the day with a massive snowball fight.”

Learn more about Pinnacle’s full offerings at

Got a group of your own you'd like to take out? Our next snowshoeing workshops are January 13 and February 10. Find details and sign up today.

This article originally appeared in the November+December 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.