Child Safety and Accommodations


Safety & Supervision

We assure you that your student’s safety is our top priority .  All of our safety measures and rules are designed to minimize physical and emotional risks to your child while they are here at camp.   Students are under constant adult supervision.  For most of the day, this includes the supervision of their classroom teacher, their naturalist or one of our office staff in addition to their cabin leader.  All SJOE staff have extensive experience working with children and have been TB tested, fingerprinted and background checked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  High school cabin leaders are volunteers, undergo training before meeting their students, and typically come from the same school district as your student.  Rules and expectations for the cabin leaders are set high to ensure a safe and secure cabin environment at all times.

Students are required to adhere to specific rules while they are present at outdoor school.  We require students to be mutually respectful of each other, individual and camp property and the environment.  We stress the importance of physical safety and have a zero tolerance policy for rough housing, fighting and other behavior that physically endangers anyone.   

Hiking Trails
Our staff works with the YMCA to ensure that the trails and natural areas utilized by students are clear of major obstacles and potentially dangerous plants such as poison oak.  As trail conditions change with the weather and seasons, we adjust our lessons and excursions to match.  However, as with any outdoor activity, certain risks are inherent.  The majority of our trails are unpaved, so especially in rainy months, mud and uneven footing are expected; with our site happily situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a certain amount of up and downhill hiking is required.  Our trail schedule allows for one night hike (approx. 1 hour in length), one "all day" or picnic lunch hike (approx. 5 hours in length) and one morning hike (approx. 2.5 hours in length), as well as short hikes in the marsh and to the tidepools at Beach Day.  Distances covered in these hikes will range based on trail conditions, lesson plans and capabilities of the students at the discretion of SJOE naturalists.  If you have concerns about the physical nature of our program please contact us!  

Medications and Emergencies

We have a full time medic and staff person on-duty at all times.  Two of our office positions are devoted solely to address any medical issues that arise and all of our staff have current First Aid and CPR certifications, at minimum. Our full time medic is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  If your child requires medication while they are on site, please carefully read “Sending Medications” to ensure the proper medical protocols are followed.  Our medical staff will contact you early in the week if the medical information provided is insufficient.   Without the proper paperwork and protocols, we cannot administer medication to your student.   Should any serious medical issue arise with your student while they are here, we will contact you.  Given the remote nature of our site, emergency response times vary.  First responders can be on-site in 20-30 minutes, while ambulance response times range from 30-45 minutes.    

Our staff is dedicated to the safety, health and growth of each student that comes to outdoor school.  We strive to include any student that expresses an interest in our program regardless of physical or mental limitations. If your child has special needs or abilities, including allergies, please contact us in advance so we may arrange the necessary accommodations.


If you have any questions about your child’s safety or our safety procedures, please don’t hesitate to contact our Principal, Gregory Bahr, on site at 650-747-0139, or our program assistant at the county office, Frances Palmer, at 209-468-4809.



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.
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, to be used as student housing soon), 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.  

Cabin Leaders

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.