Loma Mar Activities/Curriculum
On Redwood Day, students explore the incredible redwood forest on our site as well as the surrounding county parks that border the property. They visit ancient old growth trees and explore Pescadero Creek, learning about all the beautiful flora and fauna it helps to support. Students turn over logs looking for salamanders, or help look for the Mascot of Outdoor Education, the always charismatic banana slug! Students also meet an ancient and massive old growth tree affectionately known as ‘Big Red,’ and try to fit their whole class inside a giant tree, hollowed-out by a fire long ago!
On Oak Day, students explore the Oak and Madrone forest on our property which extends into Pescadero County Park. They may hike out to the breathtaking Worley Flats, and observe all the dramatically different microclimates within the Pescadero Creek watershed. During the winter months, a few ‘secret’ waterfalls might even be seen.
Students also explore our fantastic organic garden, where they learn about the growing vegetables and flowers, and help do some gardening. They meet our chickens and ducks, see our compost in action, and even get to taste some of the wonderful roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds we have growing all year long.
On Beach Day, students take a short bus ride, following the winding Pescadero Creek to the Pacific Ocean. Here they explore the Pescadero Marsh and the incredible and diverse life that it harbors. Students will search for marsh birds, and tidepool in the dramatic shadow of the Historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse, where urchin, abalone, sculpin, sea stars, nudibranchs, and even octopi are often sighted! Pebble Beach (no not the golf course) is also a frequent stop. Here students discuss geology and the forces of nature that made a beach completely full of small round pebbles. They may also get a chance to join the “Pebble Club” and have their friends bury them in pebbles. Students might also take several dramatic walks along the cliff side where they are likely to see harbor seals, and if they are really fortunate, they might spot a gray whale traveling between the Baja Mexico and Alaska!
An important part of the curriculum at ENH at Loma Mar is our organic garden and sustainability village. Both have been a place for hands on learning and environmental education that has been maintained with the help of students since 1990. Students learn about the concept and reason behind organic gardening, solar power and sustainable water usage. In addition to the diverse plant life in the garden, students also have the chance to spend some time with our animals friends too. The Loma Mar garden is home to several ducks and chickens that help our garden by supplying manure for our compose and free range eggs for the naturalists.
Content and Curriculum
On all three days, curriculum is correlated to the 5th or 6th grade science standards. Our program has a perfect format for lessons on geology and erosion, energy flow and food chains, the water cycle, ecology, sensory awareness, photosynthesis, weather, pollination, watersheds and Ohlone Native Americans. We ask teachers to make requests about what curriculum they would like us to focus on with their students.
All meals are eaten family style with students passing serving bowls around the table. All meals are nutritious, kid-friendly and well balanced, and we accommodate a wide range of dietary needs. While in the dining hall, students learn about which foods can be composted and weigh their leftovers after each meal to cut down on food waste. Rumor has it that if the whole dining hall gets zero food waste the outdoor school principal will dance around with the food waste bucket on her head!
Town Hall Meeting
Students debate a development issue by role playing and getting to cast their vote. While developing and presenting their arguments, students will learn important critical thinking skills, and have a chance to work on their public speaking and debate skills while using their power to vote.
Students are encouraged to be silly and dance to fun songs, sung and played on a variety of instruments by our incredibly talented, and sometimes goofy, naturalists.
Students are empowered to face their fears of the dark by hiking through the forest without a flashlight. During hikes, naturalists may focus on astronomy, night vision (rods vs. cones), owl calls, nocturnal animals, sensory perception, and storytelling.
Each night finishes with a campfire where naturalists sing songs and tell stories. Before Oak and Redwood Day, students sing songs to introduce some of the themes of the day. Songs cover topics such as decomposition, adaptations, nocturnal animals, plant parts, the web of life, etc.
Students will get to record their experiences, observations and drawings within their journal. Teachers who want their students to record their outdoor school experience in a journal are required to bring a journal for each of their students on the first day of program. Student journals are specific to the Exploring New Horizons at Loma Mar facility and program.
On Thursday night, students feel empowered when they go up on stage and perform environmentally-themed skits that they have developed with their counselor’s guidance. Students work together throughout the week to practice their skit and are prepared to present it to their classmates on skit night.
ENH at Loma Mar provides high school counselors who stay in the cabins with students during the week. Our Program Coordinator goes to a high school in the same area as the elementary or middle school to interview and train high school students to act as counselors during the week. We welcome teachers to be involved in the recruitment and selection process. Teachers may request students whom they wish to be counselors and may be a part of the interview and training process if they are interested. Counselors are interviewed and trained by our staff before they are selected to come and volunteer for the week at our school. The high school students selected meet at your school and ride the bus to the outdoor school with the students.
Famous Naturalists and Endangered Species
Each trail group at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools is named after a famous naturalist, and each cabin group is named after an inspired species, such as the Marbled Murrelet. Excellent pre- or post-research activities for students can be created surrounding these noteworthy naturalists and species. For a current list of our famous naturalists and inspired species, please contact the program director.