Welcome To Growing Outdoors!

Where the child's growth comes first.

We Are Passionate About Child Development.

Growing Outdoors was founded with the belief that after-school enrichment should be more than just entertaining children for an hour each day. We created a quality program that helps each child develop physical, intellectual, and social skills from kindergarten through grade five. Our nurturing and knowledgeable staff are always present to support the students while facilitating the 21st century skill based curriculum. Helping each child develop into the best version of themselves is what sets our after-school enrichment program apart.


21st Century Skills

These are skills that children need help to develop because they aren’t developing them on their own. While parents may be worrying about math, science, and english, skills like critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication aren’t being taught. Our program focuses on developing and practicing these skills that every student will need as they mature in this ever changing world.

We Call Them Exploratories

Children are specializing earlier and earlier these days. With a focus on giving children the opportunity to explore, we feel children are more likely to take a risk, push themselves, and try something that may be a little scary. When a child takes a risk, they learn and grow. That’s what 21st century learning is all about – pushing yourself to try something new, that may be a little different.

The Evolution of Community

Everyone defines community a little differently, but for us, it’s about helping children to see the world around them. To reach out to a peer, a neighbor, a fellow student, and to support them. That’s why each of the programs we offer will have a component that requires them to work with others, to support each other and to hold each other accountable for the choices they make.
What Makes Us Different?
It starts with the people and ends with the support. Children do their best when they are in a supportive environment. And we feel that the supportive environment starts from the moment a staff member is hired. When we take the time to group interview, individually interview, call and speak with multiple references, followed by a background check, you can rest assured that we are finding the best of the best. And if we can’t find the right staff members, we won’t run a program until we can. It’s that simple. A supportive environment for our staff translates to a more supportive environment for each child participating in our program. That’s why each exploratory we offer will have at least one Growing Outdoors trained staff member each day in addition to the lead instructor. And when that staff member has a question, or a parent has a question, there is a First Aid and CPR certified lead staff member on site until the last student has gone home. We know it is harder to to do it this way, but we know that the program will be better because of it.
Who Are We?
Sam Dudley

Sam Dudley

Director (he/him)

A graduate of New York University, and a Los Angeles native, Sam came back to the child development field in 2015 after spending 7 years in New Orleans as the Associate Artistic Director of a non-profit theatre company. His passion for working with children stems from his 10 years in the summer camp field, where he’s worked with children age 4-17 in a variety of different camp roles. He’s proud to be a founding director of Growing Outdoors.

Lissa White

Lissa White

Co-Director (she/her)

Lissa arrived at Growing Outdoors in 2018 after a decade with our sister company, Camp Kinneret, and after her time spent teaching the children of active duty/civilian members of the US Navy. She graduated with her degree in Early Childhood Studies with an emphasis in Developmental Psychology from CSUCI in 2011 and has adored adventuring through the field of education ever since! She lives with her husband and their two silly doggies, Zeus and Whoopi. Lissa’s passions outside of work are traveling, kayaking, painting, singing, cuddling her dogs, hiking, bike-riding, and playing with her four nephews. She loves working with Growing Outdoors and the team and is excited every day to cultivate growth and joy in each and every student.

Danny Tobin

Danny Tobin

Assistant Director (he/him)

Danny joined the Growing Outdoors team as an Assistant Director in November 2022 after spending 12 years as a summer camp professional. 10 of those years were spent on the Leadership Team with our sister company, Camp Kinneret. Prior to his work in summer camps, Danny received his BFA in Theatre Performance at Chapman University in 2009 and you may still find him time to time on a local stage as an actor or director. Danny’s commitment to child development goes beyond just Growing Outdoors. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education and also remains active with the American Camp Association as an Accreditation Visitor during the summer months. Danny and his wife welcomed their son in 2020 and their daughter in 2022. Together they enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, and lots of time snuggled on the couch watching Paw Patrol and Cocomelon! He is excited to be part of creating positive growth opportunities for every student!

Angel Rivera Degro

Angel Rivera Degro

Program Administrator (he/him)

Angel entered our program in 2016 as an Exploratory Leader in the Oak Park area, followed by multiple years as a Site Coordinator at Brookside Elementary and MATES. After a small gap, Angel joined our staff once more as the Program Administrator, bringing his experience with Growing Outdoors to the table and continuing to positively impact students of all ages. In the summer, he continues to work with Camp Kinneret’s Lifeguards by certifying and training them, while also planning the program’s options for the following school year. Angel’s passion for aquatics, animals, motorsports, and athletics provides an active lifestyle that translates to an energetic approach to the students. He can’t wait to introduce students to new exploratories and make long-lasting positive memories at all the schools!

Drop Us A Line

If you are interested in learning more about Growing Outdoors or are interested in having us join your school, contact us today!