This Is Our Story
San Mateo Outdoor Education is a program of people – teachers, administrators, naturalists, cabin leaders, and, of course, children. Since its inception in 1968, more than 225,000 children have attended Outdoor Education at San Francisco YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, near La Honda, California.
The beginning of Outdoor Education for San Mateo County Schools dates to the summer of 1965 when Gus Xerogeanes, a natural sciences teacher for the San Bruno Park School District, took a group of 6th grade students on a weeklong summer school adventure to the YMCA Camp at Jones Gulch.
A district-wide program for San Bruno Park Schools was started in the spring of 1966 with only 60 students each week due to limited space at the site. In the fall of 1966, more districts began participating in the program, which continued to be run by the San Bruno Park School District. A pilot Outdoor Education program was approved in 1968 and began with 650 pupils. The program was structured such that the Director was in constant contact with the districts' superintendents, coordinators, teachers, and the on-site staff of senior naturalists and naturalist interns. High school students acted as counselors, who later came to be known as cabin leaders, and teachers from the schools accompanied their students to the site. The YMCA staff provided the food service and facility maintenance.
The first of the naturalist interns came from the College of San Mateo, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Antioch College, Beloit College, and California Polytechnical State University. Today, the program receives applications for the naturalist internship from across the country.
Today, Outdoor Education's dedicated staff continues to awaken in students an appreciation of the environment and the interdependence of all living and non-living things. District teachers are an active part of this experience, and the program has developed a loyal following of teachers who return with their students year after year to discover the benefits of the Outdoor Education experience.
Adapted from A History of the Outdoor Education Program of the San Mateo County Office of Education by Kristina E. Chiosso.
© 2019 San Mateo Outdoor Education