Beginning January 2021, Little Explorers, a non-profit licensed outdoor preschool program, will open on the campus of Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, WA. The program will build off the learnings from Forest Kinderland Outdoor Preschool, with continued leadership from Kylee Schurmann Nelson as part of the teaching team. Teshia Flowers, Founder and Director, describes the program in this way:

Mission: Little Explorers Outdoor Preschool provides children a quality education and a joyful, nature rich childhood: one full of play, exploration, and wonder. Little Explorers aims to support a diverse community and to hire and retain staff who are committed to an equitable early education experience.

Vision: Our vision is to create a community where all children have a sense of belonging, have access to high quality education and develop the social, emotional, and academic skills needed to thrive in school and life.  Our core values are addressing inequalities and inequities in early education that hinder access, particularly for low-income families and children of color.

What we know:
There are over 400 Outdoor Preschools in Washington State, and 4 out of 5 children attending these programs are white. Little Explorers will be 1 of only 11 programs that are licensed, allowing greater access to low-income families through state subsidies. Another obstacle to equity is the cost of gear, which could make it challenging for families to have access to this educational experience.

How You Can Support:
Little Explorers Outdoor Preschool envisions offering a Gear Lending Library. Families will be able to check out essential gear for their preschooler that will reduce the cost of participating in the program and increase access. A kit for one child includes: rain boots, insulated winter boots, wool socks, mittens, a hat, neck warmer, and a waterproof rain suit. The cost is around $300 and will keep them warm and dry in the elements of the Pacific Northwest. 

You can help clothe a child!  Donate to build the gear lending library!
Donations may be made in any amount–see suggested amounts below and what they will purchase. Click the Donate button to donate using PayPal or credit card.

$15 Wool socks

$25 Insulated Waterproof Mittens

$40 Rain Boots

$75 Waterproof Trail Suit

$80 Winter Boots

$300 Full kit for one child for a season

$1000 full kit for one child’s time in preschool (as children grow, they need new sizes in gear!)

Little Explorers is structured with capacity for 2 classes of 12 children. If gear were available to half of those children, it would mean a library that includes about $3,600 of gear.


Q: Can I donate items instead of money?  At this point we are accepting monetary donations so that the appropriate gear in the appropriate sizes can be purchased as needed. Donating money also allows us to buy items in bulk and maximize the amount of gear we can purchase. We can also build the library in the size(s) and volume with most urgent demand.

Q: Can I enroll my child, or send a friend? You can find out more about Little Explorers Outdoor Preschool by emailing:

Q: Why does it say I’m donating to Saltwater UU Church?  Is that right?  Little Explorers is just getting started, and Saltwater UU Church is partnering to help increase access to the program through raising funds for the gear lending library. Donated moneys (minus PayPal or bank fees) will be used to purchase gear for the Little Explorers Outdoor Preschool Gear Lending Library. 

Q: Is there a way to donate other than online? You can also mail a check to Saltwater UU Church with “gear library” in the memo line to: Saltwater UU Church, 25701 14 Pl S., Des Moines, WA 98198.