“Learning science is playful, for playfulness leads to creativity, and it is through creative thinking that new insights are gained. Learning science is about being present to your environment and to the other people with whom you share the space. The first tools of science were not hand lenses or rulers, but were, and still are, taste buds, ears, eyes, nose, and the skin. Science is magical. Young children know about magic. This magic may wax and wane during elementary school, but it is recaptured by the experience of outdoor school. It is there during the teachable moment, the view from the trail, quiet spots, shared meals, and dozens of other activities and experiences.” – Jeremy Miller, instructor, Dept. of Science Education, California State University, Chico.
Outdoor Education is a four-day, three-night Environmental Education and Challenge Course program for fifth graders at Westminster Woods in Sonoma County. The program is designed to foster a sense of stewardship toward the environment, a greater interest in science, and character development. Events include hiking, tide-pooling, a challenge course, team-building and leadership development activities, and fun nighttime campfires.
“Everyone should go to Outdoor School. We spend all our time on our phones and our iPads at home, and at school. Don’t adults know we need a break from technology! Anyway, if you expect us to fix the environment when we are the adults, don’t you think we should spend some time in nature?” – Evelyn Jerde, 7th Grade Cedar Park Middle School, Beaverton Oregon
The Outdoor Education program gives students first- hand exposure to science and character development. Students increase their understanding of the world around them while hiking in nature, digging in the soil to witness decomposition, testing oxygen levels in Dutch Bill Creek, and recording observations in their journals. Students develop problem solving and team- building skills on a Challenge Course. Facilitators provide expert guidance and help students connect lessons to daily life. Groups might balance on cables, climb trees, or zip through the redwood canopy, while learning to trust others and discovering new strengths within themselves.
Students are chaperoned by Sequoia teachers and Sequoia parent volunteers.
Cost: Approximately $400/student, funded by voluntary parent contributions and fundraising. Payments may be made in installments. *If total funds are not raised, trip may be cancelled and contributions refunded.
Westminster Woods offers exceptional Environmental Education and Challenge Course programs for primary and secondary students. Our facility is nestled in 200 acres of a coastal redwood forest in Sonoma County, a short drive from the Pacific Ocean. Dutch Bill Creek, a Coho salmon habitat, flows through our campus and provides unique, hands-on learning opportunities. Challenge Course Canyon offers 13 high elements under the redwood canopy.
We offer three program types: those focused on Environmental Science and Education; those devoted to Character Development that focus on teambuilding initiatives and our high ropes course; and programs that combine the best of our Environmental Science and Character Development initiatives.
Our Teacher Naturalists are dedicated professionals committed to supporting Common Core and Next Generation
Science Standards through inquiry, observation, adventure, and discovery. We maintain small group sizes to maximize the learning experience and encourage reflection and growth.
Areas of Study
- Redwood Forest Ecology
- Stream & Watershed Ecology
- Marine Science & Tide-pooling
- Conservation & Restoration Ecology
- Challenge Course & Teambuilding
- 7:00am Rise and Shine!
- 8-9:30am Dining Hall Prep and Breakfast
- 9:30am – 4pm Morning programming may include Tide-pooling/Marine Ecology at the beach or Redwood Ecology along our forested hiking trails. Lunch in the dining hall or a trail lunch provided by our kitchen. Afternoon program time might be spent learning about Stream Ecology and Salmon Restoration along Dutch Bill Creek, or engaged in Team Building/Character Development activities on our Challenge Course.
- 4-5pm Recreation Time — students can enjoy time on our giant cargo net, awesome playground, playing Ga-Ga Ball, or swimming in our heated pool.
- 5-6:30pm Dining Hall prep and Dinner
- 6:30-7:30pm Teacher Time/Chaperone Free Time
- 7:30-9pm Evening Programming options include a Campfire Program along with other schools, a Night Ecology hike, or Watershed Ecology program in which students learn how to make a difference in their home watershed.
- 9pm Prep for Bed 9:30pm Lights Out!
“Talk to anyone who attended outdoor school and they will tell you it’s one of the most memorable, rewarding, and educational experiences of their lives.” – Eastern Oregonian, Sept. 21, 2016