The sister camps are located in the Santa Monica Mountains adjacent to Malibu Creek State Park and boasts excellent facilities and a superb location. The camps are on Malibu Creek behind the Tapia Park unit of Malibu Creek State Park. Students stay in dorm style cabins and use central bathrooms; faculty stays in smaller cabins adjacent to the student cabins or in “counselor” rooms in the student cabins. There is a central dining hall for breakfast and dinner; students assist with setting tables and serving food family-style. Lunches are eaten on the trail as the groups learn about the area. The large cafeteria and several indoor conference rooms are available for evening use and in case of inclement weather. Camp Gilmore/Crags both have a pool, low ropes course, and an extensive trail system linking the them to Malibu Creek State Park. The location offers many opportunities for exploring the diverse environments of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Naturalists at Large’s experience has been that the student’s participation in the process of learning and living together provides the basic framework for a successful program. The program will emphasize outdoor skills along with an introduction to the various environments of the Santa Monica Mountains. Naturalists at Large will take responsibility for evening activities.
Students will discover the unique natural and human history of the area, develop group cooperation through shared experiences, enhance leadership abilities, and learn basic outdoor skills. All Naturalists at Large programs are designed to give the students a "sense of place". This is accomplished by introducing them to the natural and cultural history of the Park and surrounding area while they explore the trails, study the various habitats, and live in the area for up to five days.
Organized into groups of twelve to fourteen, students discover the unique natural history of the area, and solve problems posed by their instructors. Naturalists at Large instructors work with their groups to teach basic outdoor travel skills, conduct education activities (primarily a mix of walk-and-talks and hands-on science and social studies activities) on the Park trails. In addition, they are constantly encouraged to solve problems posed by the Naturalists at Large instructors, comprised of both intellectual problems and well thought-out and well executed physical problems (i.e. initiative activities). Each trail group is with a Naturalists at Large naturalist-instructor, and a faculty or parent chaperon each day for the entire program.
Educational Themes can include:
Plant communities – botany, ecology, plant identification
Adaptations of plants and animals for surviving this land of little rain
Geology – landforms, continental drift
The stars – cosmology, constellations, and ancient mythology
Environmental resource management
Water resources – pollution, sewage treatment, water sources
Invertebrate zoology and bird watching
We will also stress the importance of safe outdoor travel. Emphasis will be tailored to complement the goals of the school.
The academic aspects of the program emphasize the study of water: fresh, marine, and brackish
The natural history of the Santa Monica Mountains
Man's role in the modification of the mountains
Using natural resources wisely
Leadership development and decision-making is enhanced through group building and initiative activities.
Naturalists at Large is a leading outdoor and environmental education group in California. Since 1985, we have provided outdoor education programs for tens of thousands of students from over two hundred schools, offering custom client designed trips, flexible dates and locations, commitment to safety and comfort in the outdoors, the wonder of nature and the importance of outdoor and experiential education.