Office of Mary C. Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of Schools
Camp KEEP: A jewel in local education programs
For nearly 50 years, the Kern County to their young audience, telling stories about the
Superintendent of Schools has operated Camp Chumash who were native to the area or leading
KEEP in various locations. Today, the two camps hands-on science activities about the ecosystems
are KEEP Ocean in Montana de Oro State Park, just and life cycles.
south of Morro Bay, and its sister campus in nearby
Cambria. Nearly 7,000 Kern County fifth and sixth- The schedule at KEEP is finely oiled; everything
graders visit KEEP each year with their classmates is so well orchestrated with each meal, day hike and
for a week of science education and camaraderie. activity flowing seamlessly together. There is never
any down time and it’s a rarity to hear a student say:
Each morning at KEEP begins with the sounding “I’m bored” or “I want to get home to play video
of nature’s alarm clock. The deep bellow of breath games.” How refreshing.
through a conch shell reverberates across camp at
7 a.m. Then it is off to breakfast in a large, white Each evening culminates with everyone gathering
dome that is the centerpiece of campus. The dome around a blazing campfire for an hour of songs and
is where everyone gathers for community meals and storytelling. Then, it’s lights out.
various other science-related activities and games
throughout the week. Camp KEEP is a rite of passage for so many
young people in our community. Outside of the
Most of campers’ time is spent out on the trails science education that students receive during their
surrounding campus. This is where the program stay, the experience has a lasting social benefit as
really shines thanks to KEEP’s naturalists who lead well. For many students, it is the first time they are
six separate hikes over three days to tide pools, away from their parents for an extended period. For
sandy beaches, mountains, creeks, sand dunes and others, visiting KEEP is the first time they have the
the Morro Bay National Estuary. opportunity to see the ocean, hold a snake or climb
to the top of a mountain. Countless friendships and
The naturalists at KEEP are absolute pros. They memories have been made over the years at KEEP.
aren’t only great science teachers; they are great with It’s one of the true jewels of Kern County education
the kids. Each is engaging in his or her own way, programs.
stopping along the way to explain things succinctly
The past Year at KEEP
Contrary to popular belief, spring on the central ponchos, the students pushed against the winds
coast of California starts in November. Spring and reveled in the power of the storms.
begins when the first storms blow in off the Pacific
Ocean. The rains wash away the summer dust Although the rain created many wet feet, and
and the ground soaks up the water like a sponge. trees were blown down by some devastating
The chaparral plants stand a little taller, the sage winds, the students coming to KEEP experienced
regains its fresh scent, and the air becomes fresh green hills, wildflowers and flowing creeks. Trees,
and cool. flowers and animals all seemed to burst forth with
new growth and life.
The past few winters have been disappointing
at KEEP, and for California, as we have suffered A similar pattern of new growth and life
through years of drought. But this winter, the affected KEEP’s curriculum and instruction this
rains returned in a big way. At KEEP, students year. Starting with an unprecedented week-long
were treated to walks in the rain. Wearing yellow teaching inservice with staff from both campuses,
KEEP experienced a rain of new ideas and
practices. Encouraged by the BEETLES program
(Better Environmental Education Teaching
Learning and Expertise Sharing), and working
with a KCSOS curriculum specialist, we aligned
all our lessons with Next Generation Science
Standards and Common Core.
While still keeping cherished program
traditions, we incorporated more detailed
observations, scientific investigations and field
journaling. The KEEP programs continually grow
in our ability to offer quality outdoor science
experiences to our students.
By the Numbers 6,750 Number of students served in
2016-2017 school year
98 Number of public and private
7 Number of counties served.
230 Number of combined students
the two KEEP campuses can
accommodate each week.
Departures & Arrivals
Alex “Onyx” Guill During the 2016-2017 school year, KEEP Ocean said
goodbye to our long time lead cook Katherine Cisneros. Under
her 20 year guidance, KEEP’s kitchen always received the
highest marks for cleanliness and efficiency. Replacing her will
be Lizzy Bednorz. Lizzy enjoys working in a place where she
can watch deer outside the window, and is anxious to make
some tasty changes to our menu.
Replacing longtime naturalist Steve Schubert, KEEP Ocean
was pleased to bring on Alex Guill or “Onyx” as he is commonly
called by the students. Alex is excited to have a job on the coast
where it stays cool most of the year. His high energy and unique
sense of humor keeps the students (and staff) entertained.
In the fall of 2016, KEEP Cambria welcomed new naturalist
Nikki Petch-Baker or “Roo” as the students call her. Nikki brings
experience working with wildlife in the local State Parks, and
is looking forward to improving the recycling and composting
efforts of the Cambria campus.
Nikki “Roo” Petch-Baker
Many thanks go to the KEEP Foundation for Bay Area Lyme Foundation: Tick safety signs
its ongoing dedication and fundraising support Amphitheater Benches: Olive Drive School,
of the program. More than $40,000 was raised by Elk Hills School
the Foundation through community donations Amphitheater Pavers: Veterans School and
in 2016 -17, including a donation in the amount Lakeside teachers John Schumacher & Lori White.
of $13,668 from Sparking Image Car Wash. All Donor’s Choose: A variety of donors helped
proceeds through the KEEP Foundation fund to buy compost tumblers, weather station,
“camperships,” to help send students with a binoculars, student board games, science books,
financial need to Camp KEEP. listening center and hand lenses.
KEEP Ocean would like to thank the following KEEP Cambria would like to thank the following
Rotary Club (Downtown Bakersfield):
Materials and manpower for a beautiful water
feature in our native plant garden. KEEP
supporter & Rotarian Wade Nomura lent his
expertise in the construction of the new waterfall,
stream, and pond.
St. John’s School: Hand lenses
Rhonda Lamb: Monetary donation for teaching 9 Iron Inn, Madelines Restaurant, California
supplies State Parks , Pewter Plough Playhouse, Among
Friends Gift Shop, Linns Farm and Restaurant,
Cafe Musique, San Luis Soap Co., Paso Soap Co.,
Richard Connelly and Standard Middle School
The non-profit KEEP Foundation accepts monetary
donations for campus improvements and scholarships.
Contact Desiree Von Flue at 661-636-4646 or mail
to: KEEP Foundation — KCSOS • 1300 17th St. •
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Keep up with KEEP!
Schools, parents, and teachers can
go to www.campkeep.org to learn
about KEEP, get pre-arrival forms, see
pictures, prepare for a visit, and find
ways to help KEEP. Become friends
with us on Facebook and Instagram
in order to get updates on the latest
happenings at our campuses.