Frequently Asked Questions

For Students
1. Who is going to be in my cabin?  Will I be with my friends?
2. What time is dinner, and what are we having?
3. Can I go to the bathroom?


For Parents
1. Where are you located?
2. What are the cabins/accommodations like for my child?
3. What is the weather like?
4. How can I communicate with my child during the week?

5. If my child gets sick at camp, what happens?  
6. My student wears a uniform at school – do they need to wear it at camp?
7. What happens if it rains while my student is at camp?



For Students


1. Who is going to be in my cabin?  Will I be with my friends?
           Once we know who is coming from your school, the staff in the county office helps organize who will live in which cabin for the week.  Cabin assignments are done randomly by gender (boys and girls will have separate cabins).  We will try and ensure you are placed with other students from your class, but cannot guarantee you’ll be in the same cabin as your three best friends.  Be flexible and remember that this week is a great opportunity to make new friends as well!

2. What time is dinner, and what are we having?
           You get three meals a day while you’re here at camp, and a snack each afternoon.  The meals change every day, but you can expect tasty things like fruit, pancakes, pizza and perhaps even a treat at the end of the week.  Dinner is at 5:30pm.  Check the daily schedule for a more specific timeline.  

3. Can I go to the bathroom?
           Please!  Most cabins have indoor bathrooms, attached to the bunk area.  Cabins that have separated bathrooms are a very short walk from the door of your bunk room.  At meal times, bathrooms are located just outside the dining hall.  You'll need a buddy and the bathroom pass before leaving the dining hall for bathroom breaks.  When we're out hiking, bathrooms with indoor plumbing are few and far between, so we recommend that you use the bathroom BEFORE you leave your cabin for the day.  "Go before we go, so when we go you don't have to go".   If you have to use the bathroom during a hike, your naturalist will teach you how to do your thing out in the woods, and you'll have the opportunity to join a hecka cool outdoor school club.  Be sure to use the proper code words: "I have to chase a coyote" means "I have to pee!".  "I need to chase a bear" means "I must scat".  Dont worry -- its totally safe, private and people do it all the time!  


For Parents


1. Where are you located?
   Our program site, at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, is located in La Honda, CA, approximately 12 miles inland of Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean.  We’re about 1 hour south of San Francisco and 2.5 - 3 hours west of Stockton.  Located in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, we are surrounded by redwood forest with the beach and Pescadero Marsh a short drive away.

2. What are the cabins/accommodations like for my child?
   Our program utilizes cabins and facilities owned and maintained by the YMCA. Cabins are all single sex and well equipped with heat and full electricity.  Most cabins have indoor bathrooms complete with showers, sinks and toilets.  Cabins without attached bathrooms utilize outdoor/disconnected bathrooms a short distance away.  Each child will have his/her own bunk, mattress pad, and space to store their suitcases and gear.  
   Each cabin group will include one to three high school volunteers, or cabin leaders, who supervise students at all times.  While we try our best to match male cabin leaders with boys’ cabins, it is possible that a boys cabin will have a female cabin leader.  Girls’ cabins will always have a female cabin leader.  For more information on cabin leaders, see the cabin leader page or contact your student’s teacher or our staff.  
   Students are expected to keep their cabins and bathrooms clean and organized throughout the week.  YMCA staff thoroughly cleans and sanitizes every living space after students leave for the week, so cabins are fresh and ready for the incoming group.  The Y staff is constantly working to improve living spaces and have recently built a yurt (a round cabin used for teacher time and sometimes rainy-day activities), renovated a large outdoor bathroom, and installed new heaters in many buildings.  Maintenance and housekeeping staff are on call while students are present to resolve any issues that come up during the week.

3. What is the weather like?
   Weather here at camp can be very different than out at the coast or at home in the Central Valley.  Students should come prepared with plenty of warm clothes (layers, sweaters, jackets), rain poncho, long pants and good walking shoes.  Be sure to review the packing list carefully.  For current weather conditions in La Honda, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather service website, www.nws.noaa.gov .

4. How can I communicate with my child during the week?
   We encourage you to write letters to your student during the week they are here at outdoor school.  Receiving positive, encouraging letters from home helps kids feel safe and excited about their time here without triggering too much homesickness.  We recommend you mail your letter on the Saturday before they leave for camp,  also send pre-stamped and pre-addressed envelopes to camp with your student to write letters home.  Unfortunately, we don’t have stamps to distribute to students.  Please include your child’s name and the week they are attending camp when addressing your letters!  Our address is San Joaquin Outdoor School, 11000 Pescadero Rd, La Honda, CA 94020.  
   While they are at outdoor school, students are very busy with hikes, going to the beach and doing activities and are therefore hard to reach directly by phone.  In our many years of experience we find that speaking with family members tends to increase the incidence of homesickness, and so we tend to discourage direct communication by phone, except for emergencies.  If you are very concerned about your student’s progress during the week, we recommend pre-arranging a way to check in with your child’s teacher either by email or phone.  

5. If my child gets sick at camp, what happens?
   All of our staff members are certified in First Aid and CPR and we have a full time certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on site for any medical issues that may arise.  For minor medical problems such as headaches and stomachaches, students can rest and relax in our infirmary until the problem subsides and they are ready to return to their cabins. For these students, it is our procedure to routinely take a student’s temperature and check in with them about recurring symptoms and recent history of illness. Please note that medication cannot be given to students unless the student brings up his or her own medication along with the proper form filled out by a doctor.

Given the higher incidence of flu in recent months, we have taken additional precautions to ensure the health and safety of all of our students.  If a student presents with a fever of over 100 F, we need a parent or family member listed on the student’s registration form to come and pick them up.  

In case of a more serious injury or emergency, we call 911 and enlist the help of trained paramedics who bring the student to a nearby emergency room for care.  If your child comes into the office with any serious medical problem, our medical staff will notify you!  


6. My student wears a uniform at school – do they need to wear it at camp?
   No!  While at outdoor school, students spend time hiking around the forest and at the beach and we encourage them to get down and dirty to explore the world around them.  We recommend that students bring multiple changes of clothes and bring clothing that they don’t mind getting muddy or wet. Check out what to bring for a detailed list of what to bring.

7. What happens if it rains while my student is at camp?
   Don’t worry!  Here in the forest, water is life!  When it gets wet we see loads of banana slugs, newts, salamanders, and tons of other creatures that are otherwise tougher to find.  We do get a fair amount of rain especially in the winter months, so it is important that your student is prepared!  They should bring a waterproof rain jacket or poncho to camp and have multiple changes of clothes in case they do get wet while out hiking.  Yes, we still hike in the rain.  If there are heavy downpours or severe weather, we tweak our schedule and incorporate more indoor activities, but students still need the proper gear to get from their cabin to the dining hall, etc. as dry as possible!
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