New Camp KEEP By The Sea campus opens in Arroyo Grande

On the brink of its 50th anniversary celebration planned for spring 2019, Camp KEEP (Kern Environmental Education Program) has announced it has moved its longtime Cambria campus to Arroyo Grande, Calif. The new campus — located at the Camp Arroyo Grande — is named KEEP By The Sea and complements the program’s KEEP Ocean campus in nearby Montano de Oro State Park.

The move was necessitated because KEEP Cambria was displaced from its longtime leased campground last year due to delays in an on-going construction project. During the 2017-18 school year, campers scheduled to attend KEEP Cambria were accommodated at two temporary sites. Campers were housed at the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School last fall and Camp San Luis Obispo in the spring, as officials began exploring permanent options on the central coast.

“We researched and visited a number of sites around the area and Camp Arroyo Grande seemed a perfect fit for KEEP,” said Desiree Von Flue, assistant superintendent of student services at the Kern County Superintendents of Schools, which operates KEEP. “It’s nestled in the foothills overlooking Pismo Beach and Oceana Dunes and features 29-acres of terrain and various ecosystems close by to explore. It’s a truly stunning setting.”

Guided by the Next Generation Science Standards, naturalists/teachers bring classroom science to life using hands-on lessons and outdoor activities including hikes each day and field trips to nearby tide pools, sand dunes and the mud flats in Morro Bay.

“Ecological concepts taught in the natural environment build upon the indoor science curriculum taught by the classroom teacher,” Von Flue said.
While at KEEP By The Sea, students and their counselors will stay in rustic cabins and enjoy the camaraderie of family-style meals in the dining hall. While at dinner, students learn and practice a different manner each night.

The new campus features a multi-purposed Learning Center, complete with audio/visual equipment, a salt-water touch tank, caged native reptiles, animal specimens, microscopes, sensory activities, and games. The site also has a large open play area with recreational equipment, a volleyball court, horseshoe and tether ball area. There is a “drum circle” and stage area along with a campfire pit. Every night before bed, students gather around the fire for stories, songs and skits.