Frequently Asked Questions from students

 What if it rains?

Rain is always possible, especially during the winter months. Fortunately in most instances rain does not affect our program. We prepare for the weather by dressing in raincoats and ponchos, and hike as normal. If you’ve already spent a lot of time outside and your group needs some cozy time inside, each group is assigned an indoor classroom where they can go and get warm and dry. There are also cool indoor places like our museum to explore on a rainy day!  Make sure to check out the packing list so you come prepared for any kind of weather.

 Why can’t I bring electronics/bug spray/snacks?

Outdoor Education is a special week where you will have the unique opportunity to experience living in nature without all the comfort items of home, especially electronics like cell phones and other technology. Walker Creek is located in a temperate and dry habitat where common pests are not a problem, so bug spray is not necessary. If you have a special need that requires you to bring something, please list it on your health form. Extra snacks are not allowed because they can attract unwanted insects and animals into your cabin: and, we feed you four times a day so we promise you’ll be well fed!

What is the food like?

Our food is delicious! Expect such treats as pasta, pizza, tacos, quesadillas, tomato soup, fresh greens from our organic garden, and more! On every day except arrival and departure day you will have breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner.

Where do we take showers?

Showers are taken in the bathhouse. There are private stalls and a private dressing room, but you may wear a bathing suit if you prefer. Each cabin group is assigned a reserved shower time so that you have plenty of privacy in a comfortable environment.

Who will be in my cabin?

Your cabin group will be assigned by the classroom teachers, and you will find out who they are on arrival day. We try to make sure that you have at least one person who you are good friends with in your cabin.

What animals live at Walker Creek?

Some native animals at Walker Creek include jackrabbits, foxes, bobcats, mice, otters, owls, bats, coyotes, squirrels, deer, newts, salamanders, frogs, turtles, trout, salmon and all kinds of birds!

 What should I bring with me to Walker Creek?

Please refer to our packing list so you’re prepared for your week at Walker Creek! Don’t forget things that will help make you comfortable. So if you have a special stuffed animal that you sleep with every night, feel free to bring it!

 What are the cabins like?

We have thirteen cozy cabins that are carpeted, heated, and furnished with wooden bunk beds and mattresses. Each cabin sleeps between eight and eleven people. Some cabins have bathrooms in them, and all are a fifteen second walk from the central bathhouse. Each cabin is named after an animal native to the Walker Creek habitat!

 What if I have to go to the bathroom?

Some of the cabins have bathrooms, and all are only a few second walk to the central bathhouse. While we’re out hiking, the comforts of indoor plumbing aren’t available so we recommend that you always use the bathroom before you meet your naturalist for the hike. If you still have to go during a hike we have a system for that as well.  Your naturalist will let you know what to do.  Don’t worry if you do – it’s totally safe, private and people do it all the time!

What if I have a problem at night?

Your cabin leader will be with you at all times of the day and night, and they are here to support you – even if it’s the middle of the night! If you have a problem or even need to go to the bathroom you can wake your cabin leader up to help you out. In addition, your teachers are in a nearby lodge and are always available to help if there is an emergency, as is the on-call ranch manager.

Can I call home?
One of the coolest parts of a week at Walker Creek Ranch is having the opportunity to experience a new way of life away from home for a few days. In a few short days you will grow a lot in self-confidence and independence, and we want you to be completely immersed in the experience!  If you really miss home, a great tip we hear all the time from past students is to write a letter home. Tell everyone back home all about how many adventures and challenges you completed that day! Just remind yourself that in a few short days this awesome experience will be over, and you’ll be reunited with your friends and family back home, full of amazing stories to tell them about your unforgettable week at Walker Creek Ranch. Your friends and schoolmates will be here with you the whole time, and your teacher, naturalist, and cabin leader are always there for you if you just want to talk.

What if I get sick?

We’re here to help you feel better! We have a fully equipped health center in the teacher’s lodge, and an adult is available any time of day or night to help you out if you get hurt or sick. All of our staff is fully trained in CPR and first aid, and we also have staff that are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).

What if I don’t like hiking?

Hiking is a great way to explore Walker Creek Ranch and is only part of what you will be doing during your visit. The rest of the time you might be exploring in the creek, doing a study at Turtle Pond, eating tasty produce in our organic garden, meeting barn animals and our pet python “Shy”, doing team challenges at the Challenge Course, and much, much more!  When you are hiking, your naturalist will be helping you to discover you all kinds of cool things about the plants, wildlife and the ecosystem, and you will stop often for activities, games and lessons.

Will there be other schools there?

Depending on the week, you could be at Walker Creek at the same time as one or more other schools. We think these are the most exciting weeks because you have the opportunity to make many new friends and all come together as one new community! Depending on your school’s preference, you may even get to be in a trail group with new friends from a different school.

Who will my naturalist be?

You will find out who your naturalist is and who is in your cabin and trail group on arrival day. No matter who it is, we can promise that you’re going to have a fantastic and unforgettable experience! If you’re interested in finding out more about what our naturalists are like, go to our Meet a Naturalist page!

What are the rules?

Although we’ll be outside most of the time, Walker Creek Ranch is a school, so any rules that apply at your school apply here. Use the common sense and good judgment that you use in the classroom, and you will do great at Walker Creek too. We like to say that our most important three rules are 1. BE SAFE 2. BE RESPONSIBLE 3. BE RESPECTFUL. If you can follow those three rules, then you’re already on your way to a fantastic week!

Can we go swimming?

Swimming is not available during  the Outdoor School year, but you will have the opportunity to explore the creek and Turtle Pond!

~ 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