Frequently Asked Questions from Parents & Guardians

1.     Who will be supervising my child?
Children are supervised 100% of the time at Walker Creek Ranch. During class and program time students are supervised by their classroom teacher or their naturalist. At all other times the children will be with their cabin leaders – parents or high school counselors who are recruited by your student’s school. Cabin leaders are trained and work closely with the classroom teachers, the Walker Creek principal, assistant principal, and Cabin Leader Coordinator to ensure that they are supported in providing constant and responsible supervision of children, day and night. These cabin leaders sleep in the cabin with the children and understand that they will be woken up at any time if a child needs assistance.

2.     What facilities do you have?
Walker Creek Ranch has thirteen cozy cabins that are carpeted, heated and furnished with wooden bunk beds with mattresses. Some of the cabins have bathrooms, and all are a few second walk from the central bathhouse. There is a modern dining hall that provides high quality food fit to meet all student dietary needs. A large percentage of our produce is provided by the local farmers market and our very own organic garden.

3.     Where are you located?
Walker Creek Ranch is located about fifteen miles west of Petaluma, and eight miles east of the small town of Marshall on Tomales Bay. Our site is a large 1,741 acre property that spans over rolling hills and bay forests. Our address is 1700 Marshall Petaluma Road, look at a map HERE.

4.     Can I contact my child?
One of the great benefits of a week at Walker Creek Ranch is that students learn to grow in self-confidence and independence by experiencing a week of life away from home. Naturalists, cabin leaders and teachers are always available to assist students if they are feeling homesick or have other concerns. If you would like to contact your child, we encourage you to write them a letter, and pack them pre-addressed envelopes so they can write you back. Other than extenuating circumstances as determined by you and the teachers, we discourage phone calls home as this may detract from the students’ growing sense of self-reliance. Rest assured that your child will be busy having adventures and tons of fun, and will be returned to you happy, healthy and safe.

5.     What if my child gets homesick?
There are some actions you can take prior to your child leaving to help prevent homesickness. Many students miss home, however, our general policy is to not have students call home. We encourage students to write a letter home, and you can help by packing them pre-addressed and stamped envelopes. Before students leave, set them up for success; tell your child to have a great time and that you can’t wait to hear about all of the exciting  activities and adventures sure to be had during a week at Walker Creek Ranch. . Parents and guardians should refrain from telling students that you will pick them up if they miss home too much. This may imply that you have doubts about whether they will make it, and may get them into the mindset of thinking they want to leave, instead of staying immersed in the experience. In most cases, students feel much better after the first night once they have proven to themselves that they CAN do it. Rest assured that the teachers, naturalists and cabin leaders are here around the clock to support the students and encourage them to challenge themselves and grow, helping them thrive, even if missing home.

6.     What if my child gets sick?
All of our staff members are certified in First Aid and CPR, and we also have staff certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) on duty in case of any medical issues. For minor problems like headaches and stomachaches, students can rest in the infirmary in the teacher’s lodge until they feel better. In the case of a more serious injury or emergency, we will call 911 and enlist the help of paramedics (immediate response comes from Hicks Valley Fire Department). If your child has any serious medical problem during the week, we will notify you immediately.

7.     Will the hikes and activities be strenuous?
Except for arrival and departure day, each day will consist of two activity periods with a naturalist. Some will be hikes, but many others will be activities such as participating in a study at Turtle Pond, doing work in the organic garden, or visiting our barn animals. The most strenuous activity your child will participate in is the All Day Adventure to Walker Peak, which is less than 5 miles round trip. We allow 6 hours for this hike with lots of stops for snacks, rest, fun and learning.  When the students reach the summit they are treated to a stunning 360 degree view and feel a surge of self-confidence knowing that they accomplished this once in a lifetime goal.  Indeed, students regularly cite the trek to Walker Peak as a highlight of their week.

8.     Will there be other schools there?
Depending on the week, there may or may not be one or more other schools attending Walker Creek at the same time. Your school will choose if the students’ trail groups will be mixed with children from other schools or remain separate.

~ Walker Creek Ranch ~ 1700 Marshall Petaluma Rd. Petaluma, CA 94952 ~ 415.491.6600 ~
A program of the Marin County Office of Education
Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools