Mendocino Outdoor Science School
By Janet Esposito
Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association
P.O. Box 267
Mendocino, CA 95460
Every Spring and Fall, along the rugged, ancient Northern California coast, something magical happens. Homeschooling families from across the state, and even from across the nation, gather together to participate in a highly-acclaimed educational program: Mendocino Outdoor Science School (MOSS). Located along the breathtaking coast of California, the Mendocino Woodlands is both a State Park and a National Historic Landmark. They have developed a unique program especially for homeschoolers, combining the best parts of a family campout and a science camp for kids. The result is nothing short of an experience of a lifetime.
After arriving, students are divided up into small groups that are guided by a resident naturalist from MOSS. They participate in high-quality curriculum that is customized for every group’s needs. Whether you have a group of high-energy second graders, or teenagers with special interests — everyone is invited on this amazing journey of discovery! Kids get to live in the majestic redwood forest, while sleeping in cabins that were hand-built by the CCC during the 1930’s. They discover the magic of the towering redwood forest through hands-on science lessons, participate in challenge courses, and even work on service learning projects. They explore the redwood forest, investigate tidepools, hike the seaside bluffs, remove non-native beachgrass, and much more. From an academic perspective, the goal of MOSS is to teach kids about their natural environment and to encourage a sense of respect and responsibility for nature. However, they also help students in ways less obvious — building confidence, encouraging kids to become leaders, and creating a sense of community.
And MOSS does not forget about the rest of the family. Parents can accompany their students out on the trail, or choose from a variety of fun classes, such as challenge hikes and handmade crafts. Everyone can participate in the amazing conservation programs MOSS has been successfully implementing over the years, including the monitoring of food waste with the Waste Wizard, and water conservation within the cherished, protected Big River watershed. Plus, all kids two years and under, are free, so the entire family can join in on the fun! MOSS offers delicious and healthy food options, with kid-friendly choices. As an added bonus, the kids help with the running and maintenance of the camp during their stay — allowing the parents to sit back and enjoy their meal, while the kids do all of the work for a change!
As parents, we are often focused on the immediate: Getting the school lessons planned, taking the kids to an endless list of activities, preparing meals, etc. It is easy to forget that our kids will remember very little of the details we so desperately try to stay on top of. As kids get older, their childhood turns into hazy memories — all blurry colors and distorted shapes. But a few memories that are planted take root and blossom — full of happiness and laughter and rich, vibrant details. The Mendocino Outdoor Science School plants one of these rare seeds in every person that arrives — providing cherished memories that will last a lifetime. For more information, including rave reviews from homeschooling parents, the low prices, and availability, please visit their website at http://mendocinowoodlands.org/moss-for-homeschoolers/. JE