Welcome to the World of San Mateo Outdoor Education
We are thrilled that your child is going to join us for a week of outdoor school. Your enthusiasm about their week is key to their successful participation in the program. The information included in this section will help you and your child prepare for Outdoor Education.
Your school district is offering your child a weeklong educational experience in the outdoors through the San Mateo County Outdoor Education program. The San Mateo County Office of Education, in cooperation with local schools and San Francisco YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, runs this award-winning environmental education program and have for more than 40 years.
Since l968, more than 200,000 fifth and sixth graders have learned about the physical and social sciences as well as art and music through this residential outdoor science school. The program emphasizes experiential and interdisciplinary learning in natural places.
In addition to academic learning, the program provides a unique opportunity for students to develop self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and social responsibility. Students take care of themselves by making their beds, caring for their clothes, and keeping themselves clean. They work as part of a team by setting up meals, cleaning the dining hall, and creating their cabin skit performance. The opportunity for new friendships and the spirit of cooperation make the week at Jones Gulch a memorable social and educational experience.
Prior to Outdoor Education, a naturalist visits your child's school and provides a presentation to help prepare them for the experience. You are welcome to attend this session, but please note that the presentation is designed to be student-focused. Your child's school may also offer a parent information session.
We want to assure you that your child will be safe and cared for at Outdoor Education. Your child will be supervised at all times by their cabin leader, naturalist, or teacher. Our Healthcare Specialist, providing medical supervision 24 hours a day, is responsible for dispensing any necessary medication and will contact you if your child experiences any health problems while at Outdoor Education.
It is not unusual for some students to miss their families and homes for the first few hours at Outdoor Education. You can help prepare your child for their time away from home by communicating your enthusiasm and excitement. Promises to retrieve your child if they are unhappy are generally counterproductive. Children who believe that parent pick-up is an option do not adjust well to their new surroundings. Full benefit of the Outdoor Education experience requires uninterrupted attendance. For more notes on homesickness and separation, please consult Advice For Being Away From Home.
A week at Outdoor Education is a once in a lifetime experience that your child will always remember. The learning and excitement shared with friends and classmates is often mentioned by graduating high school students as a highlight of their school years. Thank you for helping the Outdoor Education staff and teachers make this the best possible experience for your child.
Consult our staff biographies to learn more about the naturalists your child will meet during their week at Outdoor Education. Classroom teachers from your child's school attend and serve as a link between school and home.
Students live in heated cabins with bunk beds. The YMCA staff prepares well-balanced meals which are served family style. Special diets, for medical reasons, should be noted on the registration form and discussed with the Site Director. Please call (650) 747-0414 at least one week prior to attendance.
There are no phones available for students, so please do not ask your child to call you or expect to reach him or her by phone. For emergencies, you may call (650) 747-0414. In case of an emergency at the site, the Site Director will contact you.
Parent visits during a student's Outdoor Education attendance may detract from the positive development of self-reliance and may negatively impact children who cannot have a parent visit. As such, we ask that you do not visit your child while he or she is attending Outdoor Education.
If you wish to visit the program prior to your child's attendance, please contact the Site Director at (650) 747-0414 to arrange a time and date to visit between Monday and Friday. We cannot accommodate weekend visits because our staff is not available for site tours and other groups are using the YMCA facility.
Your child will look forward to a letter from you. Letters should be sent early to ensure that they arrive before your child completes his or her week. Mail is distributed at teacher time Tuesday through Thursday. Please send only one letter per day.
The address is:
Student's Name and School
San Mateo Outdoor Education
11000 Pescadero Rd.
La Honda, CA 94020
The San Mateo Outdoor Education e-mail address is for parents, students, and teachers to contact us before and after a program week. We are not able to provide students with e-mail correspondence during their week at Outdoor Education.
To help us provide a safe and enjoyable experience for your child, please fill out the yellow medical form distributed by your child's classroom teacher. We need to know about your child's current health status and any medications that he or she is taking. In the event of an accident, we need to know where to reach you, what to do if you are unavailable, and the name of your insurance carrier.
Please adhere closely to the clothing checklist. Proper clothing for the seasons is essential for your child's comfort and well-being. Older but serviceable clothing is best. We urge you not to buy new clothing or equipment. Space is limited. Please send only one duffle bag or suitcase and a sleeping bag. For detailed information, please refer to our packing list.
- Transportation and Cost
- Tips for Homesickness
- Packing List
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Post Outdoor Education Parent Survey
© 2017 San Mateo Outdoor Education