Kern Environmental Education Program

The Kern Environmental Education Program (KEEP) offers Residential Outdoor Science Education for 5th and 6th graders at two separate and beautiful coastal campuses: KEEP Ocean in Montaña de Oro State Park and KEEP Cambria Pines in Cambria. Here, students use the natural environment as a living laboratory. Children learn about ecological concepts while they explore and study a variety of ecosystems through first-hand experiences. Students, teachers and counselors share the enriching experience of living in cabins together, eating community meals, learning on the trails, playing science games by starlight, singing songs around a campfire and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.

The KEEP Experience


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Camp KEEP Forms

We hope your child is looking forward to an amazing week at the Kern Environmental Education Program. Our staff is ready to deliver a once in a lifetime environmental experience.

Specialized Health Care Needs

The Physician’s Authorization to Attend Form is required for students with specialized health care needs to attend KEEP. Contact Assistant Superintendent Desiree VonFlue (661-636-4629) and your classroom teacher for the following:

  1. Any medications requiring injections (i.e. Epipen or Glucagon)
  2. Diabetes
  3. Severe bee sting or insect bite reaction
  4. Severe food or nut allergy reaction
  5. Mobility limitations
  6. Severe asthma (i.e. requiring nebulizer or activity restrictions)
  7. Seizure Disorder
  8. Respiratory Restrictions (i.e. respiratory conditions limiting activity)
  9. Recent hospitalization
  10. Other serious health conditions.

If your child has a serious medical condition, permission to participate will be determined on an individual basis. The KEEP campuses are an hour away from an health care facility, and KEEP does not have a school nurse. Your child’s safety is a vital concern. Many of these health care conditions will require a medical shadow to attend with your child (free of charge). The sooner KEEP and your school is notified of your child’s condition, the better!

Clothing and Equipment

Quick Tips for Packing

Proper footwear is a must
Dress in layers
Bring a warm hat, gloves and jacket
Students should label all clothing and equipment
Bring a good attitude about getting dirty

Optional Items

Camera, binoculars, sunscreen, sun glasses, 1 cap/visor for sun protection, backpack, flip-flops or sandals for shower, earplugs if you are a light sleeper, and a watch.

For Schools

Loudon Teachers

Dear Teachers,

Many of you wish to know what to expect when you bring your class to KEEP. Therefore, we have compiled this description of some of the mechanics of your field study trip. Complete information is contained in your KEEP Teacher Resource Guide.

Please arrive at 11:30 a.m., allowing three hours to get to KEEP from Bakersfield (the KEEP staff will not be ready for you until 11:30 a.m.). Upon arrival, you and your students will be given a brief welcome and behavior expectations before lunch is served at noon.

After lunch students will learn their cabin assignments and move their luggage to their rooms. Following this, students will accompany Naturalists on orientation walks around the campus. Counselors will have their own orientation meeting with the Lead Naturalist. The teachers will meet with the Program Supervisor to talk about the week (hiking assignments, teacher duties, students, etc.).

Around 4:30 p.m. the students and counselors will finish moving in and have some free time until dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Teachers will meet with their students for one hour per day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. This is a good time to touch base with your students and, if you choose, have the children work on their field notebooks. Counselors have a meeting during this “teacher hour” and then enjoy their limited free time — so please keep your students for the full hour.

Be prepared for the unexpected at KEEP. Anything that happens is curriculum. We look forward to a wonderful week with you and your class. Your comments, suggestions and constructive criticisms are earnestly solicited. The KEEP office phone number in Bakersfield is (661) 636-4629.


Being a counselor is a challenging, fun, and extremely rewarding experience. Be prepared to learn a bunch about science, nature, kids and…yourself.

Counselors are not babysitters, but rather, temporary staff members who are responsible for the safety, well being, and educational support of approximately 7-12 elementary students for five days, 24 hours per day.

As a counselor, you will assist naturalists on ecology walks/hikes and evening campfire programs, directly supervise between 7 to 12 students during meal time, showers, etc., and be on call for emergencies while bunking with students.

All counselors (whether high school, college or adult/parent) must complete a registration form and submit to the school site before coming to Camp KEEP.

All high school counselors must have a registration form completely filled out and in the possession of the teacher before boarding the bus to come to camp. Counselors under the age of 18 must have the form signed by their parent.

So You’re coming to KEEP as a Counselor? Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you bring good sturdy shoes with good tread on the bottom. Bring a couple of pairs at least because there is a good chance they may get wet. Ugg boots, “shape-ups”, and or rubber boots are NOT good for hiking on trails. And you will be hiking, every day, rain or shine. Some days you can expect to cover over 5 miles up steep hills or on sandy dusty trails sometimes gaining up to 1,000 feet in elevation. Some hikes go along uneven rocky shores laced with slippery rocks. Be prepared!
  • Bring warm clothes, the wind and weather on the coast can make it quite cold over here at times, however a big heavy jacket is not recommended for hiking, several light warm layers work much better. Don’t forget, a backpack to carry your layers, camera and your refillable water bottle.
  • Don’t count on using your cell phones, in fact we discourage it. Service is sketchy, time is limited, and here at KEEP the kids come first. The KEEP staff would rather you focus on being here in this wonderful place with the students rather than texting or talking to people miles away.
  • Do you drink coffee or tea? Bringing your own insulated mug to enjoy your hot beverage is a good idea.

More in-depth information can be found in the KEEP Counselor Handbook.

So your child is coming to KEEP? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

  1. Is KEEP Safe?
    Yes! KEEP has operated since the early 1970s and hundreds of thousands of children have attended.

    All KEEP staff hold current certifications in first aid & CPR and deal with routine student health issues on a daily basis. If there is a more serious problem, your child’s teacher will contact you immediately via the emergency numbers listed on your registration form.

    Naturalist staff are trained to keep students safe on hikes. Children are not allowed to swim or wade in the ocean or creek. KEEP monitors local weather on a daily basis and adjusts hike schedules accordingly. Kitchen staff are trained to keep students safe at meals. Our menu is peanut & tree nut free. Students with special dietary needs are accommodated. Volunteer chaperones are provided by the visiting school. KEEP trains these chaperones on the first day to keep students safe in the trailers, both physically and emotionally. Every afternoon students spend time with their school teacher, who touches base to make sure they are healthy and happy.

    Every staff member & school volunteer passes DOJ & FBI fingerprint clearance as required by school districts.

  2. What if my child takes medications?

    In order for children to take medication (prescription or over the counter)at KEEP they must have the KEEP Medication Form filled out and signed by a doctor and a parent. KEEP staff can’t administer even a cough drop without this form filled out. Medications need to be turned into their child’s teacher in their original container. Make sure all medications have a current expiration date. Medications will be kept in the first aid room and dispensed according to instructions. Emergency medications (such as inhalers) will be carried on every hike.

  3. What happens if my child gets sick at KEEP?
    The answer varies, depending upon what is wrong with the student.

    If there is the possibility of a contagious illness (fever, vomiting, etc), the sick child is taken to the first aid cabin and put into the care of their teacher. Their teacher will contact the child’s family and arrange for a pickup at KEEP. Contagious children cannot stay at KEEP; although if they are symptom free for 24 hours (and cleared by a doctor) they may return. Schools will receive a partial refund if a child is sent home on the 1st or 2nd day.

    If the child has a minor issue, such as a stuffy nose or mild cough, non-medicated comfort measures are offered (such as warm tea with honey). Over the counter medications can’t be given unless the parents have filled out the KEEP Medication Form.

  4. What if my child wets the bed?
    KEEP has a very discreet way to deal with this situation to ensure that every child feels safely and privately cared for.

    Parents should let staff know by marking the appropriate box on their child’s registration form. This child will be given a bottom bunk (where it will be easier to get to the bathroom & clean up/launder any nighttime situations). If a child wakes up wet in the middle of the night, we have extra dry sleeping bags the counselor loan out. In the morning, we wait until the children are eating breakfast to get wet bags to launder so no one notices. By the time the students return from their hikes, all bags are clean & dry and returned to the bunks.

    Some parents choose to send pull-ups with their child for bedtime use. If that is the case, please let your child’s teacher knows. These items will be stored in the 1st aid room. At bedtime and in the morning, your child will be allowed to go there and change privately in the 1st aid bathroom.

  5. What happens if my child is scared to shower in front of other kids?
    Showers are private. each child will have their own shower, with a small changing area and privacy curtain. Chaperones will always be present by the entry of the shower room to ensure that the children are behaving respectfully & appropriately. Hazing & pranks are not allowed.

    Students must shower at least once during the week, and have the opportunity to shower on both of their long hiking days. If students desire, they may bring a swimsuit to wear in the showers.

  6. Where does my child sleep?

    Children sleep in cabins or trailers in small groups assigned by their teacher. Each group will be supervised by an adult volunteer from the visiting school at a 7:1 ratio. Teachers sleep in a separate building within sight of the student quarters. Teachers are on-call at night to deal with any behavior or first aid issues. There is always a staff member on campus at night who is available to assist teachers if needed.

  7. What will my child eat?

    Please see our sample menu under each campus page. Students are served nutritious breakfasts, lunches, & dinners while at KEEP. There are morning and afternoon snacks available for children who are hungry. Additionally, if your child is vegetarian, or has an identified food allergy, please read the section entitled “Students with Special Needs”

  8. What if my child gets homesick?

    Homesickness is common, especially on the first night as students start to think about bedtime. Our goal is to encourage homesick students to stay for the whole week of adventures. Ultimately, whether or not to send a homesick child home is a decision teachers will make with their child’s parents. KEEP strongly encourages teachers to make that decision after the student has made it through the first night and gone on at least one hike. There are no refunds given for homesickness. Parents can help their children prepare for a week away from home by practicing spending the night at a trusted adult’s house prior to their visit. Also, share with your child the following tools to help with homesickness.

Here are some tools we use to help children that feel homesick

  • Keep students involved in the activities. Busy kids feel less sad! Kids that feel homesick need to be part of program, watching other kids have a great time.
  • Listen to the student and let them vent their feelings of loneliness. Reassure them that feeling homesick is perfectly normal.
  • Remind them that other students around them have the same feelings and they are not alone. Everyone in their class has each other to lean on.
  • Tell them that feeling homesick is not bad; rather, it is a good thing because it means they have a great family who loves them. Their family also wants to see them grow, have new experiences, and will be very proud of them by the end of the week.
  • Distract them by asking about their favorite part of the day. What did they get to see while hiking? What fun activities are there for them to do on campus?
  • Remind them there is more great stuff ahead! Exploring tide pools, playing on a beach, hiking a mountain, face painting at the creek, visiting Morro Bay are all activities waiting for them. They can hold snakes or sea stars, play in the yard, and explore the Discovery Zone. Every evening we sing new campfire songs.
  • KEEP has a homesickness journal. It contains real stories from students who were homesick at KEEP, but managed to stay until the end of the week. Students can pick out a few to read together with their teacher. On Friday, students who conquer homesickness can write in the journal too.
  • Sometimes homesickness is related to a student not being comfortable in their cabin group or hiking group. Teachers may consider switching groups if that student is worried about a certain hike or has a special friend in another group.
  • On occasion the teacher may call home to discuss the problem and possible solutions with the child’s parent. Letting a sad child talk to his/her parents is not always a wise idea as it can result in more tears, and an exaggeration of the problem rather than a solution.

Children with special medical, behavioral, or emotional needs can attend KEEP and have an amazing experience with their class. We look forward to working with your child to help them make a memory that will last their lifetime!

KEEP has hosted students that are deaf and hard of hearing, visually impaired, and with mobility limitations (including wheelchairs). Many special education students thrive at KEEP. The KEEP experience is available for students with severe medical needs such as diabetes, seizure disorder, catheterization, anaphylactic reactions, hemophilia, cerebral palsy, sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, medication injection of any type, suppository of any type or other medical procedures.

WC BoyIf your child has a special need, there are several things that need to occur to ensure that they have a safe and successful week. The following measures must be met to minimize risk and to assure the student’s safety at a five day, overnight, outdoor program:

  1. The Physician’s Authorization to Attend KEEP Form (available from your school) is filled out & signed by a parent and physician. The student’s parents and physicians are informed of the KEEP activities, the outdoor location, the changes in daily living, and the distance from emergency medical services.
  2. An authorized medical shadow (the student’s parent/guardian, parent designee, or school district designee), accompanies the student to KEEP, is in attendance during all program activities, and is trained to provide specialized health care as needed or prescribed by the child’s physician. Additionally, the shadow will arrange for any needed activity modifications. The shadow attends KEEP free of charge. Although the KEEP staff are trained in first aid and CPR, they are not trained medical personnel, and are not authorized to carry out advanced procedures. There is no nurse or physician on the KEEP campus available to monitor reoccurring health concerns. The KEEP campuses are 30-45 minutes from an emergency room, and some remote trails could require more than 1 hour to receive emergency care.
  3. KEEP reviews all forms at least six weeks in advance of the student’s attendance at KEEP. This allows time to review paperwork, contact parents with questions, and put in place any needed modifications for the visit.
  4. The student’s IEP or 504 Plan study team review and revise the student’s IEP or 504 Plan in consideration of the KEEP activities, the outdoor location, the changes in daily living, and distance from emergency medical services. the team communicates needed modifications with the KEEP staff.

KEEP can accommodate children and adults with special dietary needs. Our menu is tree nut, peanut, and shellfish free. (However, we cannot guarantee our campus is nut free as children & chaperones sometimes bring snacks containing nuts). With advanced notice, KEEP will provide vegetarian meals, as well as substitutions for allergy-inducing items. Your child’s teacher must contact KEEP with all dietary needs at least a week prior to your school’s visit. In certain circumstances KEEP’s lead cook may contact parents with more detailed questions about allergies. On rare occasions, a child has so many severe dietary restrictions that parents will be asked to provide pre-made meals for their child. Children with life-threatening allergic reactions will require a medical shadow to carry their medication and monitor their food intake. All people with special diets will need to identify themselves to the food servers at every meal.

*Requirements of the Shadow

  1. *Be a parent/guardian, parent designee (over the age of 18), or school district designee.
  2. Pass fingerprint clearance required by your district to be alone with students.
  3. Be thoroughly familiar with the student’s specific medical condition and administration of any needed medications.
  4. Be trained in the provision of any specialized medical care or emergency care as noted in the “Physicians Authorization to Attend” form.
  5. Be physically able and willing to accompany the student on all hikes and activities, including strenuous hikes with elevation gains of over 1000 feet.
  6. Supervise student back on campus when the student’s health prevents him/her from participating on hikes.
  7. Be on campus 24 hours a day in the event a student has a medical need. This requires sleeping in rooms with other students and chaperones.
  8. Monitor and adjust food intake as needed. Bring food to supplement KEEP’s menu if a special diet is needed.
  9. Follow all campus rules of behavior while in the presence of students: For example: no smoking, no cell phone calls, no soft drinks/candy/gum, etc.
  10. Work with the KEEP staff and classroom teachers, to insure a safe and educational experience for the student.

KEEP Ocean

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While at KEEP Ocean, students and their counselors stay in 10 trailers. Each trailer has 7 bunk beds, for a total of 14 sleeping spots. There is one handicap-accessible trailer on both the boys’ and girls’ side of campus. The nearby modern bathroom & shower facilities are handicapped-accessible. Each shower stall has privacy curtains and a separate changing area.

Classroom teachers stay in their own trailers located within site of the student cabins. A first aid room is located near the office and provides a private area to care for students who are unwell.

Students, counselors, staff, and teachers eat their meals together in the geodesic Dome. Meals are well balanced, varied, and tasty! Every day students are provided with an optional morning & afternoon snack. Adults enjoy a diverse coffee & tea bar. Students are taught about and practice recycling and food scrap composting during their stay at KEEP.

Besides meals, the Dome is a gathering area for evening activities. Additionally, the Dome contains a salt water touch tank and native reptile display. Students are encouraged to hold these animals during their free time. Draped along the ceiling, each participating school’s t-shirt hangs proudly.

Our outdoor school campus also features the Discovery Zone: a nature center complete with 2 terrariums, animal specimens, microscopes, sensory activities, audio-visual equipment, and games. The site also has a large open play area with recreational equipment, including a sand volleyball court, basketball court, Ping-Pong tables, soccer area, tetherball, & Frisbee golf.

Our campus includes a greenhouse, native plant garden, and outdoor nature viewing area, complete with spotting scopes, bird feeders, & microscopes. It is common to see many animals wander through campus, including deer, wild turkeys, brush rabbits, monarch butterflies, and California quail.

Our beautiful new amphitheater is located in the middle of campus. Every night before bed, students gather around the fire for stories, songs and skits. This type of good old-fashioned fun is often their favorite part of KEEP!

KEEP Ocean is a beautiful and invigorating location for an outdoor science school, providing the highest quality program in environmental education.


Morro Bay MudflatsSand Dunes Hike 2Sand Dunes HikeCreek Walk 2Creek WalkSI ExifBeach HikeMountain Hike 3Mountain Hike 2Mountain Hike

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During their stay at KEEP Ocean, students will have the opportunity to experience one of the more spectacular coastlines of the central California coast. Montana de Oro and Morro Bay State Parks combine to provide a wide variety of natural habitats for science exploration.

As students climb the coastal mountains through the chaparral ecosystem they will study geology and plant adaptations. Many reptiles, birds, and mammals are regularly seen in the chaparral. Climbing to the top of these mountains and seeing the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline stretching below them gives the students a sense of accomplishment not felt in traditional educational settings.

The shifting sands of the sand dune community provide a dynamic landscape overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here, students can study the unique flora and fauna that is adapted to this ‘semi-desert’ area. The walk also affords the students a chance to explore some of the beaches, tidepools and rocky shorelines of the state park.

Under the shade of the willow trees the babble of the creek serves as a backdrop for lessons about the riparian ecosystem and the history of the Native Americans (Chumash) who depended on this vital source of water.

At Morro Bay, students will spend the entire day learning about the natural history, geology and economic importance of estuaries. Waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors share this habitat with sea lions, sea otters and fish. Students will conduct field studies of the estuary by examining plankton, observing underwater habitats and exploring the salt marsh and mudflats. The wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates observed in these habitats help give meaning to the concepts of food webs and interdependence.

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. — Wake-up, breakfast, awards, and getting ready for the day. Students fill out their daily activity journal.  

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. — Nature walk to beaches, tidepools, forests, creeks, sand dunes, or Morro Bay.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Picnic Lunch.

12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m. — Nature walk to beaches, tidepools, forests, creeks, sand dunes, or Morro Bay.
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. — During this time, teachers provide activities for students such as art projects, writing letters home, or filling out their KEEP journals.

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. — Recreation and shower time. Activities include nature center, soccer, volleyball, basketball, ping-pong, tether ball, snake holding & touch tank exploration.

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. — Dinnertime! Students eat a nutritious dinner with a delicious dessert. After dinner students get ready for evening activities.

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. — Evening program. Students work together playing various science games. Games are followed by a campfire, songs, and stories.

Image of Taco Night

Taco Thursday

Menu subject to change due to seasonal availability and/or other factors

Lunch: Chicken Nuggets w/BBQ Sauce, Black Beans, Corn, Pineapple Cup, Milk
Dinner: Spaghetti, Green Beans, French Roll, Strawberry Ice Cream, Apple Juice

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Corn Tortilla, Peach Cup, Juice/Milk
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Sun Chips, Apple, Green Salad w/ Italian, Mustard, Milk
Afternoon Snack: Graham Crackers, String Cheese, Grape Juice
Dinner: Chicken Tenders, Mashed Potatoes w/Gravy, Broccoli, Pudding, Apple Juice

Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll, Potato Wedge, Applesauce Cup, Juice/Milk
Lunch: Ham Sandwich, Potato Chips, Banana, Carrots, Mayo, Milk
Afternoon Snack: Lorna Doone, Fruit Roll-up, Orange Juice
Dinner: Pizza, Green Salad, Cake, Apple Juice

Breakfast: Egg & Cheese Burrito, Cereal Bowl, Applesauce Cup, Juice/Milk
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, Potato Chips, Banana, Carrots, Mayo, Milk
Afternoon Snack: Zoo Animal Crackers, String Cheese, Grape Juice
Dinner: Tacos, Refried Beans, Spanish Rice, Chips & Salsa, Apple Juice

Breakfast: Pancake Dog, Yogurt, Peach Cup, Juice/Milk
Lunch: Bean and Cheese Burrito, Orange, Fresh Broccoli w/ranch, Brownie, Milk

KEEP Ocean Staff Photo

KEEP Ocean Staff Photo

Top Row (L -> R): Eilif, Rich, Dean, Elizabeth, Renie, Steve, Katherine, Lacey
Bottom Row (L -> R): Kat, Nicole, Audrey, Paul, Matt, Cathy

Elizabeth Roberts Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Roberts

Program Supervisor

Elizabeth “Salamander” Roberts (Program Supervisor) earned a BS in Biology from UC Berkeley as well as a K-8 teaching credential from Cal State Fresno. She started at KEEP in 1996 and became Supervisor in 2006. Elizabeth is our “Master of Details,” ensuring everything is operating smoothly and efficiently. Her favorite part about KEEP is creating a magical experience for visitors, being a part of an amazing team of coworkers, and getting to hike at the front of the line.

Dean Thompson:Lead Naturalist

Dean Thompson

Lead Naturalist

Dean Thompson (Lead Naturalist) received a BS in Wildlife Biology and Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly as well as a K-8 teaching credential. He started at KEEP in 1986. Dean is a Howard Bell award winner and master storyteller. His favorite part about KEEP is walking in the green spring time hills with a cool ocean breeze blowing off the ocean sky and feeding off the enthusiasm of students interacting with the wonders of nature.

Paul Grafton:Lead Naturalist

Paul Grafton

Lead Naturalist

Paul “Buzzy” Grafton (Lead Naturalist) earned a BS in Biology at Humboldt State University. He started at KEEP in 2008. Buzzy is our vermiculture expert. His favorite part of KEEP is watching the glowing expressions on students’ faces when watching a whale breech, holding a snake, or making it to the top of a mountain for the first time.

Steve Schubert:Naturalist

Steve Schubert


Steve Schubert (Naturalist) earned a BS and MS in Biological Sciences as well as a secondary teaching credential from Cal Poly. He started at KEEP in 1978. Steve is our residential “Bird Nerd.” His favorite part of KEEP is helping students have hands-on learning experiences.

Cathy Chambers:Naturalist

Cathy Chambers


Cathy Chambers (Naturalist) received a BA in Anthropology UC San Diego and did post graduate work in Science Education and Biology at San Diego State. She started at KEEP in 1998. Cathy is our native plants expert and chicken keeper. Her favorite part about KEEP is seeing the children’s sense of joy and wonder when they are exploring the natural world.

Eilif Paulson:Naturalist

Eilif Paulson


Eilif Paulson (Naturalist) earned a BA in Child Development as well as an elementary teaching credential from Humboldt State University. He started at KEEP in 2000. Eilif is our handy guy specializing in campus restoration projects. His favorite part of KEEP is that no matter what silly names we choose, places we come from, or baggage we carry, all is right with the world when running down a sand dune.

Nicole Dale:Naturalist

Nicole Dale


Nicole “Kestrel” Dale (Naturalist) received a BS in Zoology and Communications at University of Wisconsin. She started at KEEP in 2008. Nicole is AEOE’s outdoor educator of the year (2007), medical form wizard, and Facebook guru. Her favorite part of KEEP is hiking up big hills with students.

Lacey Poulis:Naturalist

Lacey Poulis


Lacey Poulis (Naturalist) received a BS in Liberal Studies and a multiple subject teaching credential from Cal Poly as well as a MA in Education from Sonoma State University. She started at KEEP in 2007. Lacey is our design and organization expert. Her favorite part of KEEP is witnessing students finding a personalized interest in nature, marveling at cool nature sightings, and filing papers.

Kat Amsinger:Naturalist

Kat Amsinger


Kat Amsinger (Naturalist) earned a BS in Biology at Oregon State University. She started at KEEP in 2011. Kat is our residential herpetologist and animal handling expert. Her favorite part of KEEP is seeing students live up to our high expectations and the excitement a students gets when they try something they never thought they would and love it.

Rich Bohey:Caretaker

Rich Bohey


Rich Bohey (Caretaker) started at KEEP in 1992. Rich is our very talented and hard working maintenance man and landscape artist. His favorite part of KEEP is getting to work on something new everyday, watching students enjoy their experience, and working in the greenhouse.

Kitchen Staff ( L to R) Renie Pierce, Matt Booker, Katherine Ceniceros

Renie Pierce, Matt Booker, Katherine Ceniceros (L to R)

Kitchen Staff

Katherine Ceniceros (Head Cook), Matt Booker (Cook), and Irene “Renie” Pierce (Cook). Together, our cooks have over 110 years of culinary experience. Katherine started at KEEP in 1993. Renie started at KEEP in 2001 and her favorite part is when the kids arrive on Monday excited and on Friday (after a full week of KEEP) they are tired and dragging with smiling faces. Matt is our newest family member. He started in the 2015 school year. His favorite part of KEEP is when the kids come through the lunch line and show their appreciation.

Audrey Cunningham Bus Driver

Audrey Cunningham

Bus Driver

Audrey “Bumblebee” Cunningham (Bus Driver) started at KEEP in 2009. Audrey is our fantastic bus driver, hot dog BBQ master and professional plankton catcher. Her favorite part about KEEP is working outside with kids.

Silly Staff Pic

Directions to KEEP Ocean (from the Bakersfield area)

Printable Directions to KEEP from Bakersfield (pdf)

GPS will only guide you to the entrance of Montana de Oro State Park. Please use these directions for the last 2 miles to our campus.

  • North on I-5 to Hwy 46
  • West on Hwy 46 to Hwy 101
  • South on Hwy 101 to the Los Osos exit (located in southern San Luis Obispo)
  • Turn west (right) onto Los Osos Valley Rd and go 10 miles to the town of Los Osos
  • From the first traffic light in Los Osos (at South Bay Blvd) continue for 2.5 miles on Los Osos Valley Rd., following the directional signs reading “Montana de Oro State Park”.  Eventually the road veers southward and turns into “Pecho Valley Rd.”
  • When you reach the large (3’X6’) entrance sign to Montana de Oro State Park continue 1.6 miles past the “Hazard Horse Camp” & “Sand Spit” parking areas. Our unmarked dirt driveway will be directly across the street from the “Hazard Canyon Parking” sign. Turn left. The address number is 3350 Pecho Valley Road, and there is a small brown KEEP sign on the fencepost.
  • Drive up the dirt road and stay to the left. KEEP Ocean is only 100 yards through the trees from the pavement.

KEEP Ocean Directions Map

View Current Weather Conditions

“Whether the weather is cold,
Or whether the weather is hot;
Whether the weather is fair,
Or whether the weather is not;
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!”

KEEP Weather Song, sung every morning before hikes

We enjoy all types of weather at KEEP!

Foggy DayRainbow DayRainy DaySunny DayWindy Day


Current Donor’s Choose projects

KEEP Ocean Wish List

  • Campfire Circle Renovation: New redwood benches, improved fire pit, handicap accessible stage, better lighting, flagstone walkways. Download a sponsorship form.
  • Heavy Duty Riding Lawnmower
  • Industrial Kitchen Dishwasher
  • Heavy Duty Vacuums
  • Discovery Zone Displays: Contact KEEP for more details
  • High Quality Marine Touch Tank

To donate please contact

Desiree Von Flue

Thanks for Supporting KEEP!


(Fri Pickup Only)
KEEP Ocean
PO Box 6091
Los Osos, CA 93412


(Fed Ex Only)
KEEP Ocean
3350 Pecho Valley Rd
Los Osos, CA 93402


“I love Camp KEEP because it makes me feel alive”

Stine School 6th Grader

“We had a fabulous time last week! You and your team are powerful! Our students come back very rich in knowledge in regards to environment conservation, love for ecosystems, and nature as a whole! Job well done! Thank you for adding to our favorite memories of KEEP!” – Kathleen Hansen, Superintendent Caliente Union Schools

“The program is excellent! Keep it going. This is my fifth time at KEEP and I have nothing but good things to say about it.” – Teacher, College Heights

“Thank you for everything you do. Our kids will remember this experience for a lifetime. Thanks for making science come alive.” — Cabin Leader, Standard Elementary

“I really enjoyed this week and learned so much. I was not offered this opportunity when I was young and I am glad I was able to experience it with my son. Thank you all so much.” — Parent Cabin Leader, Berkshire Elementary

“I love Camp KEEP because you get to do fun stuff you can’t do alone.” — Stine School 6th Grade Student

“I love Camp KEEP because of all of the hands on experiments.” — Elk hills 6th Grade Student

“I love Camp KEEP because you can go out in nature and interact with it.” — Elk Hills 6th Grade Student

“I love Camp KEEP because it not teaches science education in a way that is hands-on and fun, but it also allows the children to build friendships and develop life skills.” — Parent Chaperone, Elk Hills School

KEEP Cambria

KEEP Cambria Pines is located at Camp Yeager in the small town of Cambria along California’s beautiful central coast. The campus features 13 acres of Monterey Pine habitat, plus a lush meadow and seasonal creek. Approximately half a mile from the beach, visitors can watch the sun set on the Pacific Ocean and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. The site is owned and maintained by the Coalinga-Huron Recreation & Parks District. 

While at KEEP Cambria, students and their counselors stay in 14 rustic cabins. Twelve of the cabins can sleep 8, and two of the cabins can sleep 12. The nearby handicapped-accessible bathrooms have showers, sinks, and toilets. Classroom teachers stay in their own cabins located within hearing distance of the student cabins. We also have one handicapped- accessible cabin that can sleep 7. It is equipped with a wheelchair ramp and its own bathroom.

Students, counselors, staff, and teachers eat their meals family-style in the dining hall. Meals are well balanced, varied, and tasty! While at dinner, students learn and practice a different manner each night. At the end of the week, students use all their new manners at the candlelight KEEP Cafe, a restaurant-style meal served by naturalists. 

The outdoor school campus also features the multi- purpose Learning Center, complete with audio-visual equipment, a saltwater 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, basketball court, and horseshoe & tetherball areas. There is also a “drum circle” plus an open stage and campfire area. Every night before bed, students gather around the fire for stories, songs and good old-fashioned fun. 

KEEP Cambria Pines is a beautiful and invigorating location for an outdoor science school, providing the highest quality program in environmental education.

Coming Soon…

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Wake-up, breakfast, awards, and getting ready for the day. Students fill out their daily activity journal.  

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Nature walk to beaches, tidepools, forests, creeks, sand dunes, or Morro Bay.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Picnic Lunch.

12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m. – Nature walk to beaches, tidepools, forests, creeks, sand dunes, or Morro Bay.
3:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – During this time, teachers provide activities for students such as art projects, writing letters home, or filling out their KEEP journals.

4:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Recreation and shower time. Activities include nature center, soccer, volleyball, basketball, ping-pong, tether ball, snake holding & touch tank exploration.

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Dinnertime! Students eat a nutritious dinner with a delicious dessert. After dinner students get ready for evening activities.

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Evening program. Students work together playing various science games. Games are followed by a campfire, songs, and stories.

A Typical Menu for a 5 Day Week at Keep Cambria

Menu subject to change due to seasonal availability and/or other factors

Lunch: Bean & Cheese Burrito, Broccoli, Pineapple, Chocolate Milk
Dinner: BBQ Chicken, Green Salad, Corn, Brownie, Punch

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Muffin, Peaches, Juice, Milk
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, Chips, Carrots, Orange, Chocolate Milk, Chocolate Chip Cookie
Snack: Nutrigrain Bar, String Cheese
Dinner: Enchilada Pie, Mexican Rice, Chips, Green Salad, Churros, Punch

Breakfast: Pankcakes, Sausage, Applesauce, Juice, Milk
Lunch: Ham Sandwich, Crackers, Apple, Celery, Chocolate Milk, Goldfish Grahams
Snack: Team Cheerio Bar, String Cheese
Dinner: Cheese, Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza, Green Salad, Cookie, Punch

Breakfast: Breakfast Burrito, Pears, Juice, Milk
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, Chips, Carrots, Orange, Chocolate Milk, Fruit Roll-up
Snack: Strawberry Chex Mix, String Cheese
Dinner: Lasagna, Green Beans, Green Salad, Dinner Rools, Ice Cream Sandwich, Punch

Cold Cereal, Banana, Yogurt, Juice, Milk
Lunch: Hot Dog, Tater Tots, Pickle, Grapes, Chocolate Milk, Cookie

Coming soon…

Driving Directions to KEEP Cambria (from the Bakersfield area)

  • North on I-5 to Highway 46
  • West on Highway 46 to Highway 101
  • South on Highway 101 to Highway 46
  • West on Highway 46 to Highway 1
  • North on Highway 1 to Cambria
  • Right on Weymouth, after 4th traffic light.
  • Take Weymouth past fire station. Turn left at Camp Yeager sign (1/2 mile from Highway 1 to KEEP)
  • Entrance is at Ashby Lane.

Coming Soon…


(Fri Pickup Only)
KEEP Cambria
PO Box 346
Cambria, CA 93428


(Fed Ex Only)
KEEP Cambria
525 Ashby Lane
Cambria, CA 93428

KEEP Foundation

The KEEP Foundation is made up of local business and community leaders. The Foundation exists to promote and support the program through various fundraising efforts. In the 2014-15 school year, more than $40,000 was raised for the Foundation’s “Campership” fund that helps send students in need to camp.

The KEEP Foundation exists to . . .

  1. Promote a greater respect for our environment
  2. Provide non-advocacy environmental and scientific experiences for our youth
  3. Support ongoing program needs
  4. Expand public and corporate awareness of and participation in KEEP
If you are interested in contributing to the Camp KEEP Foundation, please contact:

Desiree Von Flue, Program Director
c/o KEEP Foundation
Kern County Superintendent of Schools
1300 17th Street; City Centre
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Members of the KEEP Foundation board of directors are:

Lynn Taylor

Gary Chambers

Christine Lizardi Frazier / Desiree Von Flue

Tom Alexander – A-C Electric Company
Jim Bartleson – County Board of Education Appointee
Terry Bartz – Frito-Lay North America
Wayne Cella – Retired
Gary Chambers – A-C Electric Company
Scott Erwin – Robert Heely Construction
Steve Grove – Applied Technology Group, Inc.
Kathy Jackson – Stockdale School
Steve Layton – E & B Natural Resources
Debra Porter- Porter Investigations
Ursula Ripley – Chevron
Desiree Von Flue- Assistant Superintendent Educational Services, KCSOS
Lynn Taylor – Claude W. Richardson Child Dev. Ctr., KCSOS


Desiree Von Flue
Camp KEEP Administrator
(661) 636-4629


Camp KEEP is always accepting applications for Substitute Naturalists and Substitute Cooks. For an application packet, call 661-636-4629. Occasionally, we have positions open up mid-year. If you are interested, please check back on this site or our Human Resources website periodically.

Naturalist Responsibilities:
Lead trail walks for groups of 14-18 students through beach, forest, and estuary ecosystems and be able to teach lessons on adaptations, cycles in nature, and human impact. Encourage appropriate student behavior through positive reinforcement strategies and techniques. Organize and lead large group activities for up to 130 participants. Conduct campfire and evening programs using songs, stories, and science-themed games. Maintain a clean, safe, and secure facility. Accurately dispense medications and perform first aid on an as-needed basis. Strive to create a positive and memorable lifetime experience for all participants. 

Cook Responsibilities:
Coordinate, organize, and participate in the preparation, cooking, baking, and preparation for delivery of a variety of foods, including entrees, vegetables, and other hot foodstuffs. Review and follow recipes and menus in the preparation of meat and other main dishes and specialty food items. Assist in maintaining appropriate inventory of non-perishables. Participate in the research and testing of new food products. Estimate needs for supplies and foodstuffs. May prepare food for banquet and catering type food service activities. Inspect the food service area of responsibility and maintain it in an orderly, safe, and sanitary condition.

Conditions of Employment:
  • Possess or secure, within one month of employment, a certificate for First Aid and CPR issued by the American Red Cross or equivalent.
  • Obtain a clear certificate of Tuberculosis.
  • Fingerprint clearance by the FBI and California Department of Justice. This is a condition of appointment after all other required job conditions have been met.
  • A pre-placement medical assessment for ability to lift 50 lbs and perform other duties outlined above. This is a condition of appointment after all other required job conditions have been met.
  • Some positions may require proof of privately owned automobile insurance and the possession of a valid California Motor Vehicle operator’s license.