Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Guest Post - Wanderers Instructor, Ben Tzinberg

From time to time we like to introduce our Instructors to everyone.  We are very happy to have one of our best Instructors, Ben Tzinberg, back to work for us during the summer of 2014.  Here's a bit about him, in his own words.

That's Ben on the left at Fort Ross, CA

"I grew up in St. Louis, MO and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Spending time outdoors and working with young people has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For over a decade I spent my summers as a camper and later as a counselor at the same camp in the Ozarks of Missouri. Summer camp, in addition to family canoeing and camping trips, instilled me with a passion for the natural world. For the last two years I have taught outdoor environmental education in Washington and North Carolina. I also spent two summers leading service adventure trips for Mill Valley based Adventures Cross-Country. I am currently working at a charter school in Denver, CO as a Math Fellow. 

I am so excited to be returning to the Bay Area for my second summer with Wanderers! A few personal highlights from 2013 include tide pool exploration at Salt Point and leading the militia at Fort Ross during Sonoma Coast Explorer. Last summer was such a wonderful experience exploring, teaching, learning and generally enjoying the natural wonders of Northern California. Wanderers campers make the program truly unique as their sense of adventure and wonder run free while exploring as a group. Every Wanderers camper I worked with taught me something, from new jokes, to origami, to a different way of looking at the world. It was a pleasure to work alongside Kurt and the other instructors, a group with such rich and diverse experiences. I can't wait to get back to California for another awesome summer with new and returning Wanderers campers!"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wanderers 2014 Summer Camps!

By Kurt Gantert, Wanderers Founder & Director

I'm thrilled to announce that, for Wanderers 6th summer, we will again be offering 1-week overnight outdoor education camps for 7-14 year-olds in 3 different locations throughout Northern California.  Our locations this summer are the Sonoma Coast, Yosemite National Park, and Mendocino County.  This will be our 5th summer on the Sonoma Coast, 4th in Yosemite and 2nd in Mendocino. Read on to learn many exciting details about each camp, including curriculum, locations, and activities.  We also have some exciting new offerings this year.  Read on!

NEW for this year:

Online registration through Activity Hero. Registration for our 2014 summer camps is now live.  

Early Bird Registration Discount 

If you register for a camp by January 15, 2014 you receive 5% off.  You can register Here

Sonoma Coast Explorer   

The "militia" marching at Fort Ross

This will be our 5th summer offering our very popular, Sonoma Coast Explorer Camp.  It is a 5-day/4 night camp.  

We camp for the first 3 nights at Salt Point State Park in the Gerstle Cove campground.  Salt Point is a spectacular, rocky and pine-forested location on the Northern Sonoma Coast, just off Highway 1.  Throughout the week, the campers will get a chance to help set up the tents, cook the meals, clean dishes, etc (as is the case for all of our camps).  

The campsite gives us easy access to the Gerstle Cove Marine Sanctuary & tide pools and some amazing hiking trails to the "Tafoni", which are the salt water carved sandstone cliffs along the ocean.  

Gerstle Cove is a protected Marine Sanctuary, so it is lush with sea creatures.  In the past, we've spotted harbor seals, sea & river otters, sculpin, crabs, sea stars, anemone, jellyfish, sea cucumber and lots more.  If conditions are right, the kids will get a chance to find and learn about all of these animals and their adaptations to their environment.  

Gerstle Cove campground is also very close to Stump Beach, one of our favorite beaches for exploring, building with natural items, finding critters, and just playing.  In addition to these activities, we spend one day hiking among some of the most stunning and gigantic trees in the world at Armstrong Redwoods State Park.  

The final 2 days of camp are spent at Fort Ross State Park.  This is one of the most popular sections of the camp, because students get to take part in the Fort Ross "Environmental Living Program", which is a hands-on experiential learning program aimed at teaching the campers about the Russian & Native American history of the California Coast.  Some examples of the kids favorite activities are:  dressing in Russian costume, cooking authentic Russian food like borscht, fishing with "poke poles", learning to make rope, candles and baskets, "night watch", sleeping in the guard towers, marching with muskets, and firing the cannon.  Many California 4th-5th graders take part in this same program as part of their school curriculum.

To view the 2014 itinerary, including dates and rates for the Sonoma Coast Explorer camp, click here.

To register for Sonoma Coast Explorer, click here

Yosemite Hiking Adventure

View of Yosemite Valley

This summer, we are making some changes to our Yosemite overnight camp.   In the past, we have offered it as a 7-day/6 night hiking, outdoor ed and rock climbing camp.  The changes:

  • It is shorter- 5-days/4 nights. 
  • We cut out the rock climbing portion.  
  • It has a new name- "Yosemite Hiking Adventure"
  • 2 NEW hikes.  One at Glacier Point and one in the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoias
  • Less Driving
  • 1 base camp for the entire week at Hogdon Meadows Campground instead of having to move half way through the week.
See the entire itinerary, dates & rates here  

A note on rock climbing.  We apologize to all of those who may be sad that we no longer offer rock climbing as part of this camp. We love rock climbing at Wanderers and may offer it again on camps in the future. This summer, however, we decided to cut the climbing portion of the camp because in the past some campers really seemed to enjoy it and take part in the activity to the full extent, but other campers didn't enjoy it as much.  The campers who didn't like the climbing as much, at times might have felt left out and/or bored.  We think that keeping the group together and offering hikes that everyone can do is more in line with our goals of group-bonding and teaching teamwork skills. We think the new hikes will be better suited for the entire group to do together and require less driving. 

To register for the Yosemite Hiking Adventure, click here.

Yosemite Backpacking

Lower Young Lake

For the second year in a row, we'll be offering a week-long backpacking trip for 12-14 year olds in the remote high country of Yosemite National Park.  Last summer, we had an awesome time!  It was a fun group, great weather and spectacular scenery.  The photo above is of our last summer's group.

We'll begin our backpacking trip in Tuolumne Meadows.  Our first day is spent driving from San Francisco to Tuolumne and preparing for the trip.  We'll camp on night one at the Tuolumne Meadows campground near our trailhead.  The next morning, we'll get an early rise, finish packing our packs and head out into the backcountry.  Our destination is Lower Young Lake, which is about a 6.5 mile hike from the trailhead.  We'll take lots of breaks for photos, lunch, water, games, etc.  

We'll base camp at Lower Young Lake for 2-3 nights and take day hikes, swim, fish, etc. during the days.  There is an option to move camp on day 3 of the trip if the campers & staff decide to.  

On day 4, we'll do a peak ascent if we feel the group is ready for the challenge. Last summer, we summited an unnamed peak that the campers dubbed "Thunder Dome".  Here's a photo of the group from the summit:

From the summit of "Thunder Dome"

On the morning of day 5, we'll pack up camp and hike out to the trailhead. That evening, we'll celebrate our "return to society" with burgers, fries and milkshakes from the Tuolumne Meadows store.  We'll camp once again at the Tuolumne Meadows campground

Each day, we designate one of the campers to be a "Leader of the Day" (LOD). Each LOD gets to work with the Wanderers staff to make decisions on where to take breaks, what route to take, where to camp for the night, etc. The LOD also gets to be in charge of the topographic map and compass for the day.

Throughout the trip, the Wanderers staff will teach lessons about leadership, map & compass skills, teamwork, natural history, cooking on a stove, cleaning dishes in the backcountry, bear safety and food storage, etc.

To view the itinerary, dates & rates for the backpacking trip, click here.

To register for the backpacking trip, click here.

Mendocino Explorer

Tide pooling on the Mendocino Coast

For our youngest campers, 7-9 yrs old, we'll be offering the 5day/4 night, Mendocino Explorer camp this summer.  Our base camp for our week in Mendocino county will be among the Redwoods at Camp Navarro, an amazing re-vitalized boy scout camp at the very western end of Anderson Valley.  

Mendocino Explorer is most suitable for our youngest campers because the hikes are easier, we build in more "free play" time, and there are more modern amenities at Camp Navarro like showers, a dining hall, etc.  In our experience, having some of these modern conveniences helps the campers feel more comfortable and lessen the chance they will get homesick.

Some of the activities that we offer during our week in Mendocino will be: hiking among the Redwoods at Hendy Woods State Park, tidepooling at MacKerricher State Park, a hike to the Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse, beach time and hiking along the coast near the town of Mendocino, arts and crafts, archery, a climbing wall, night hikes, campfires, and more! 

See the full itinerary, dates & rates here

To register for the Mendocino Explorer, click here.