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Published by romeszaros, 2016-08-29 18:28:52



Office of Christine Lizardi Frazier, Kern County Superintendent of Schools


By Rob Meszaros

Camp KEEP: A jewel in local education programs

Nestled below towering eucalyptus trees just off nature’s alarm clock. The deep bellow of breath
the sand dunes on California’s central coast lies a through a conch shell reverberated across camp at
pretty amazing place. It’s called Kern Environmental 7 a.m. Then it was off to breakfast in a large, white
Education Program and for five days in early dome that is the centerpiece of campus. The dome
February, it was my home away from home. is where everyone gathers for community meals and
various other science-related activities and games
For more than 45 years, KCSOS has operated throughout the week.
Camp KEEP in various locations. Today, there
are two campuses — KEEP Ocean in Montana de Most of our time was spent out on the trails
Oro State Park, just south of Morro Bay, and its surrounding campus. This is where the program
sister campus in nearby Cambria. Each year, more really shines thanks to KEEP’s naturalists who led
than 6,000 fifth and sixth-graders visit with their us on six separate hikes over three days to tide
schools. pools, sandy beaches, mountains, creeks, sand
dunes and the Morro Bay National Estuary.
As a volunteer counselor for my daughter’s six-
grade class, my assignment seemed straightforward The naturalists at KEEP are absolute pros. They
enough — keep a group of 11- and 12-year-old boys aren’t only great science teachers; they are great
safe, happy and out of mischief. It was a task that with the kids. Each is engaging in his or her own
took me out of my comfort zone and it proved to way, stopping along the way to explain things
be even harder than I imagined. I was on duty for succinctly to their young audience, telling stories
23 hours a day. My only reprieve was for an hour about the Chumash who were native to the area
before dinnertime. It was just enough time to grab a or leading hands-on science activities about the
shower, a diet soda and a quick phone call home. ecosystems and life cycles the students had been
learning about in textbooks back at school.
Each morning began with the sounding of

The schedule at KEEP is finely oiled; everything is so
well orchestrated with each meal, day hike and activity
flowing seamlessly together. There is never any down
time and not once did I hear a student say: “I’m bored”
or “I want to get home to play video games.” It was

Each evening culminates with everyone gathering
around a blazing campfire for an hour of songs and
storytelling at KEEP’s amphitheater. Then, it’s lights out.

It was a long, exhausting week, to be sure. But, I
survived and in hindsight, it will go down as one of the
best, most memorable weeks ever. It was transformational
on many levels for both the students and me.

If you ever have an opportunity to visit as a counselor
— take it!

The Past Year at KEEP our core. KEEP’s core consists of loyal supporters:
teachers, alumni, counselors, employees, and
Throughout California, the drought has had administrators at the Kern County Superintendent
a big impact in a wide variety of areas. From of Schools who are willing to go the extra mile to
agriculture, fisheries, residential use and natural sustain the KEEP campuses.
ecosystems, all living things have had to adapt to
the scarcity of that life-sustaining element: water. Over the past two years, we have witnessed
this core support in several ways. The first was
KEEP has felt the drought in many ways. At our our ambitious plan to remodel our campfire
Cambria campus, the dust seems to have become amphitheater on the Ocean campus. After two years
ever-present. The creek is low and the number of in the planning stage, this project finally came to
dead pine trees surrounding the area is startling. fruition on August 1, 2015. Employees from Griffith
At our Ocean campus, the once green playfield has Company Construction donated an entire weekend
had a drastic reduction of regular watering and will to demolish and regrade the amphitheater area. On
be kept on the edge of life until the rains return. August 8, 2015, over 60 community volunteers,
On both campuses, students adapted to a lessening teachers, alumni, staff, county office employees, and
in the number and length of showers each week. administrators volunteered a Saturday to dig ditches,
Trees that were normally full and green died back shovel rock, pour concrete, construct benches, and
leaving skeletal limbs. Shortly after this stress build walls for this amazing project.
period, they sprouted small branches off their
trunks to keep themselves alive, sacrificing their
extremities for the sake of preserving their core.

The KEEP program also relies on preserving

The year was highlighted by a complete remodel
of the Ocean Campus’ outdoor amphitheater.

We are still putting on the finishing touches by By the Numbers 6,132 Number of students served in
installing lighting and landscaping. A huge thanks to 2015-2016 school year
all those whose generosity and hard work made this 98 Number of public and private
amphitheater possible. For more information on how schools served.
you can donate a new paver for the amphitheater 7 Number of counties served.
visit our the KEEP website at 230 Number of combined students
the two KEEP campuses can
Another display of generosity from our core accommodate each week
supporters is all the teaching materials donated
through Over $5,000
of donations were given for projects such as
microscopes, digital cameras, iPads, hand lenses,
field guides, and much more. This avenue for
donations continues to provide a great opportunity
for people to support our program. Best of all,
students reap the benefits through this act of giving.

Departures & Arrivals Ellalina Emrich Keller

The 2014-2015 school year was the last for KEEP her fearless leader role at
KEEP in 2015. She is known
Cambria’s long time Program Supervisor, John for her energy, positivity, and
problem-solving skills. We are
Fairweather. Known as “The Big Cheese,” John started excited to have her become a
part of the KEEP family.
his career in Environmental Education as a naturalist
In June of 2016, long
at Cambria and then at Ocean. After a short stint of time KEEP Ocean naturalist
Steve Schubert retired. Steve
teaching in an Oceano elementary classroom, John worked for KEEP since
1978. During his 29 years
stepped into his role as Program Supervisor for the as a naturalist, Steve “The Bird Man” has inspired
thousands of visiting students by hiking up big
Cambria campus in 1999. During his tenure, John mountains, sitting in quiet reflection, watching a
bird in wonder, or enticing questions about the
was known for his booming voice, great guitar skills, things in nature students find interesting. His kind,
knowledgeable, and patient personality made him a
jovial nature, “Cheezisms” (profound sayings about mentor for adults and students alike. We wish Steve
all the best in his retirement and hopes he enjoys his
life), and the ability to see the positive in any situation. full time residency in Washington.

KEEP wishes John all the best in his retirement and Steve Schubert

hopes he enjoys his days fishing and playing with his


In the Fall of

2015, Ellalina

Emrich Keller

stepped in

as Cambria’s


Supervisor. She

earned her BA in


Science and

John Fairweather Spanish from
the University

of Denver and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, an ME in

Curriculum & Design and Education & Leadership, and

a teaching and administration credential from Chapman

University. She attended KEEP as a student in 1988,

began her career in education in 1998, and stepped into


Thank you to the KEEP Foundation for its ongoing Full Bench Sponsors:
dedication and fundraising support of the program. Almondale Elementary, Centennial Elementary, St. Johns
More than $40,000 was raised by the Foundation through Elementary, Lost Hills Elementary, Sandrini Elementary,
community donations in 2015-16, including a donation in Maple Community Club, Fran Taylor, Lynn Taylor, Kathy
the amount of $11,500 from Sparkling Image Car Wash. Jackson, Jim & Diana Prola, Jerry & Terry Beckwith, Jim
All proceedes raised through the KEEP Foundation fund & Irma Fogarty, Lawrence O’Connor, Brian Phelps, Norris
“camperships,” to help send students with a financial need Elementary, and a special thanks to Kathy Jackson for
to camp. fundraising a bench to dedicate to Lynne Haley, retired
KEEP Program Supervisor.
Miscallaneous donations:
Chevron: Touch Tank for tidepool animals Half Bench Sponsors:
Sandrini School: Animal track display panel Caliente Union School District, Quailwood Elementary,
Lynn Taylor: Industrial kitchen mixer Shannon Sauter, The Jesse Cranfill family, Morro Bay Eco
Kathy Jackson: Digital thermometer & lunch tables Rotary, Cam Milleson & Steve Brucker, Debbie Campbell,
Stockdale School: Hoody sweatshirts for staff Terry Bolt, Steve Brucker, Tim Hua, Mike DiMilo, Cathy
Katherine Ceniceros: Refrigerator Chambers, Pam & Greg Sanders, Rhonda Lamb, and
Independence Elementary.
Amphitheater Donors:
A special thank you to those companies, organization and Pavers:
individuals who helped fund out Amphitheater project by Stockdale Elementary, Ed & Audrey Cunningham, Ed &
domating in-kind services and sponsoring benches and Elizabeth Roberts, the Buys family, Paul & Kyla Grafton,
pavers. These include Griffith Company Construction John Roser & Carol Comaeu, Rhonda Germano, Gary
for its work demolishing and regrade the amphitheater & Joanie Chambers, The Phelps family, and San Gabriel
area and AC Electric for a donation to cover the cost of all Elementary.
electrical & lighting supplies.

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 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.

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