Outdoor Education

By the time students graduate from SF Day, they have spent nearly a full month sleeping under the stars. Our outdoor education program started in 1985 and has become an integral part of the SF Day experience. All students, from wide-eyed kindergarteners to curious eighth graders, participate in a form of outdoor education. An emphasis is placed on group dynamics while students actively build their knowledge of ecology, geology, history, and environmental issues. We teach our students to develop their own ideas about responsible use of the outdoors and how we can help protect our planet's vital resources. Equipment and funding is available for all students. 

Kindergarten-Second Grade

Our youngest students are introduced to outdoor education through field trips and local excursions with teachers and parents. Each year, our students visit the following areas:

  • Slide Ranch
  • Yerba Buena Gardens
  • Crissy Field

Third Grade

Overnight trips start in third grade, when the students spend two nights at St. Dorothy's Rest in northern California. The trip is very closely associated with the science curriculum and focuses heavily on habitats of the Bay Area.  Some fun highlights include campfire singing, line dancing, and the memorable creek walk!

Fourth Grade

Fourth graders spend a Wednesday through Friday in early Spring at Coloma Outdoor Discovery School and delve deeply into the Gold Rush aspect of the social studies curriculum as well as its impact on the environment.

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade spends three nights at the Naturebridge Headlands Institute doing some spectacular hiking and reinforcing their knowledge about the watersheds, the animals of the Marin Headlands, and what we can to do protect them. 

Sixth Grade

Sixth graders travel to the Clem Miller Education Center in Pt. Reyes National Seashore during October.  Students spend significant amounts of time hiking, helping to prepare meals, playing team-building games with their fellow advisees, and studying the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.

Seventh Grade

Seventh grade marks the capstone of the outdoor education program at SF Day. The year begins with a single overnight trip at Rob Hill campground located within the Presidio.  In preparation for their spring trip, seventh graders hike from school to the campground, set up tents, sleep outside, and participate in a variety of team-building activities. 

As the school year begins to wind down, students backpack for a full week in the Sierras, at either Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park.  The class is divided into four small groups and each spends a "leave no trace" week living in the back-country with adults from school and experienced, contracted naturalists. The experience fosters both supportive and cooperative relationships, as students live out of the packs they each carry, toting group tents, cookware, and other essentials.  This trip is widely considered a highlight of the student experience at SF Day and provides memories for years to come.

Eighth Grade

At the beginning of each year, our students' outdoor education experience comes full circle as they return to their first overnight site at St. Dorothy's Rest. They use this time to reflect on how far they've come and to set goals for their final SF Day year ahead.

As high school admissions decisions take place in March, our students spend a day in service learning. Taking time to give back to their larger community helps our students maintain perspective and gratitude as they consider their own next steps.

The year culminates with a trip to New Mexico, where the students are guests in Pueblo de Cochiti. In this 54,000-acre Native American community, our 8th graders tackle service projects alongside Cochiti students, learn about the history and current events that impact indigenous people in America, and experience a culture that is both like and unlike their own.