Camp Whitsett

Located in the southern Sierra, this site features a large challenge course with low and high elements, modest rock climbing in camp, and a man-made lake with canoes and kayaks.

Camp Whitsett
Camp Whitsett is in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, twenty-seven miles north of Kernville.

Naturalists At Large is in partnership with Sequoia National Forest / Giant Sequoia National Monument under a non-discriminatory basis. At 5000 feet above sea level, Camp Whitsett is in Ponderosa Pine forest merging into a mixed white fir–yellow pine forest. The lower elevation and southern location gives Whitsett a longer camping season than camps at higher altitudes or latitudes. During Naturalists at Large programs, schools have the exclusive use of the camp and its excellent facilities. There are no “urban” distractions during Naturalists at Large programs at Camp Whitsett. This is a camping experience for large groups, though smaller groups (less than 136) have a cabin option. All groups have access to hot showers.


The camp has a ropes/challenge course with numerous low and high elements. This can be included in your program. A five-acre lake provides an opportunity for kayaking, swimming, or canoeing.

This program will allow students to explore the Southern Sierra west of the Kern River in Sequoia National Forest. Experienced naturalists will conduct the program. The program will emphasize giant sequoia ecology, seasonal forest ecology, Sierran geology, and themes arranged with the school’s faculty. The site has an extensive high and low challenge course and on-site rock climbing. Numerous backpacking opportunities for novice backpackers are located nearby. Giant Sequoia Groves are a short drive from camp.

Educational Overview

Students discover the unique natural and human history of the area, develop group cooperation through a shared camping experience, enhance leadership abili­ties, and learn basic camping skills. During the night camping experience, Natural­ists at Large will help the class develop a greater sense of identity. The Natural­ists at Large program is designed to give the students a “sense of place”. The program of hiking and group activities will emphasize each student’s responsibility to the environment, the unique natural history of the Southern Sierra and associations of plants and animals (with special emphasis on seasonal biological processes), the importance of national forests to all people, and the sharing of impressions through group discussions and individual journal exercises. An overnight backpack can be included in the program.

All Naturalists at Large programs include elements of group cooperation and individual physical challenge appropriate to the group. For school students, these challenges include destination hikes (e.g. Sentinel Peak, Kern River drainage, Elephant Knob) and cooperative activities (e.g. low challenge course) or individual challenge (high ropes course or rock climbing). Throughout the day, students will be involved with hands-on activities to increase their knowledge of the world around them and their ability to work together.

Organized into groups, student’s work to­gether to es­tablish camp, discover the unique natural history of the area. In addition, they are constantly encouraged to solve problems posed by the NAL in­structors, comprised of both intel­lectual problems and well thought-out and well executed physical problems (i.e. initiative activities). Natural History themes can include: the conifer forest, adapta­tions of plants and animals to snowy winters, geology of the Sierra, the stars, and the environmen­tal influences on plant size and diversity during an examination of the areas various environments. We stress the importance of safe wilderness travel.

Naturalists at Large Provides:
  • One naturalist naturalists-guide for every twelve students to conduct outdoor education programs for the students. School provides one faculty member for every group of twelve to fourteen students.
  • Program activities developed by Naturalists at Large with the faculty of the school.
  • All meals while at the program site.
  • A meeting room throughout the program period.
  • Evening programs on Sierra natural history, adventure travel, or forest history.
  • Annotated equipment list
  • Optional activities – challenge course, rock climbing, backpacking, day trips to nearby Sequoia groves and spring white water rafting.