Parent & Guardian Information

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We look forward to welcoming your child to the Marin County Outdoor School at Walker Creek Ranch.  While in residence, students will participate in activities designed to develop academic and social skills, and create a connection to the natural world. This experience can be one of the most memorable events in a student's elementary years. We hope your child will enjoy the week at Walker Creek Ranch, and know that the more prepared students are, the easier the transition from home will be. The information below will assist you and your student in preparing for the Outdoor School experience.


Located outside of Petaluma in West Marin, the property has over 20 miles of hiking trails on 1,741 acres, has abundant wildlife and diverse habitat including grassland, forest, and coastal chaparral.  At Walker Creek Ranch, the outdoor environment becomes the classroom - and the weather, land, natural communities, water and sky become the tangible content for the lessons. We take pride in providing hands-on, field based activities that bring science to life for students.

Students stay in comfortable cabins that are heated, carpeted and furnished with sturdy bunk beds. The student Bath House is situated in the center of campus, and is equipped with restrooms and private shower stalls. Students are divided into separate boy and girl cabins, 8-12 students per group and are supervised by cabin leaders provided by attending schools.  Classroom teachers attending with schools sleep in the Teacher’s Lodge, which is a lodge situated in the middle of campus, and is also the location of our student infirmary.

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Classroom teachers, Cabin Leaders, and Outdoor School Instructional staff work together to provide around-the-clock supervision of students.
Every school that attends is required to recruit either High School students or adult chaperones to act as cabin leaders. These cabin leaders stay in the cabin with students as well as support activities on trail. All cabin leaders receive a full orientation and training upon their arrival.  The cabin leaders along with the teachers and naturalist staff, provide consistent 24 hour supervision for students.

All Walker Creek staff are employees of the Marin County Office of Education and are carefully screened, background checked and are certified in First Aid and CPR. The school staff are professional educators whose top priority is the safety and well being of each individual student. They are dedicated positive individuals who know how to make learning hands-on, fun and inclusive.

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“Kid-friendly”, nutritious, well balanced meals are prepared by professional food service staff. A large percentage of our produce is provided by local farmers market and in cooperation with Marin Organic, as well as supplemented by the harvest from our own organic garden. Every effort is made to provide menu alternatives for students with special dietary needs. 


 Health and Dietary Information – Please take special care to thoroughly complete and sign the required Student Health and Dietary Forms and return them to your child’s school. We do everything possible to properly care for each student who participates in the Outdoor School Program. Please be in close communication with your child’s teacher regarding any special needs that your son or daughter may have, and be sure to clearly articulate specific concerns and/or instructions on the Student Health Form so that Naturalists and Cabin Leaders will be informed as well.

In some cases, student health issues or concerns may arise between the time you submit your child’s Health Form, and their arrival at Outdoor School.  In this case, it is critical that you communicate clearly any additional information that teacher and outdoor school staff should be aware of in caring for your child.  Please complete and submit a Student Health Update Form (which you can obtain from your child’s classroom teacher or from our website).  In some cases a doctor’s clearance for participation may be required.

Additional Voluntary Information - Please note that there is space included on the Health Form for you to voluntarily provide any additional information about your son or daughter that will help us to understand how we can best support his/her success at Walker Creek Ranch. This may include special concerns with respect to cabin assignments or other activities, anxieties about being away from home, showering, emotional concerns, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other aspect of your son or daughter that you believe may be helpful to outdoor school staff. Please note this information will be kept confidential and will only be shared with appropriate school staff working with your son or daughter.

 Medications- Please list ALL medications your student will be bringing to Outdoor School on the Health Form. Note that the Health Form includes a separate page for medication approval.  It is important that this form be completed and signed by a physician for any medication (prescription or over the counter) that is brought to Walker Creek Ranch.  All medications must be clearly labeled with student’s name, the name of the medication, and instructions for administration. Medication must be provided in the original container, if not, medication will not be administered. Do not mix medications into one container. Classroom teachers are responsible for ensuring that medications are administered daily.

Place all medication containers together in a labeled zip lock bag and turn in to your school teacher before your student leaves for outdoor school.

Packing - For a complete list of what to bring, and what not to bring, see the  packing list. Please do not send money or valuables with your child.  There is no place where he/she can spend money, and it can create problems of theft and loss.

Arrival Day – Please have students prepared for their first hike when they arrive at Walker Creek Ranch.  Students should wear closed toed shoes and bring a backpack packed with their bag lunch, water bottle, sunscreen, and sweatshirt or jacket. (Long pants are recommended).

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Heath Care- Your child’s classroom teacher acts as the primary care giver for your child in terms of providing basic first aid, administering medication, and otherwise ensuring that any specific special needs are met.  In case of sickness, injury or an emergency at the Outdoor School, your child’s teacher or the Outdoor School Manager will contact you directly.  If you are unavailable for any reason, we will contact your child's school, appointed guardians or emergency contact person. Be sure you have signed the emergency medical treatment section of the health form and have included contact phone numbers.

In case of emergency Walker Creek Ranch has several staff on site that are First Responders or EMT certified. In addition, we are a short distance away from Hicks Valley Fire Department

 Emergency Phone numbers – Cell phone service is not available in the area and there is not a phone available for general student use. In the event of an emergency you may be able to reach your student through the office or teachers lodge. The Outdoor School phone number is (415) 491-6602. After hours, you may call the pay phone in the Teacher’s Lodge at (415) 663-9905 or (415) 491-6600.

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Homesickness and sending mail – For many of the students attending the Outdoor School, this will be their first time away from home for an extended period of time. Our staff is very sensitive to issues of homesickness, and takes great care in helping students work through the challenges of being away from home and family. Cheerful letters or postcards from fiends and family are welcomed.  Please send mail early in the week, or perhaps even the week prior to your child’s attendance. You should address all mail as follows:    

Marin County Outdoor School
Walker Creek Ranch
1700 Marshall/Petaluma Road
Petaluma, CA 94952

Visitation- We do not allow visitors on site during program.  However, you may arrange with your school to attend arrival day or closing ceremony at 10:30 on departure day.  You may also attend the Open House described above.

sample schedule 2014

7:00     Wake up/ Shower
8:00     Breakfast in Dining Hall
9:15     Field Study
12:00   Lunch
12:30   Recess/Rest time
1:15     Field Study
4:00     Snack
4:15     Recreation/ Cabin Time
5: 15    Dinner
6:00     Teacher Time
7:15     Evening Program
9:00     Return to Cabin
9:30      Lights out and Quiet

 If you have any questions or concerns, or need any additional information, please call us at (415) 491-6602. We look forward to sharing a wonderful week of adventure and learning with your student.

~ Walker Creek Ranch ~ 1700 Marshall Petaluma Rd. Petaluma, CA 94952 ~ 415.491.6600 ~
A program of the Marin County Office of Education
Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools