The Kern Environmental Education Program (KEEP) was developed in the 1968-1969 school year in response to the desire to offer an environmental education opportunity for students of Kern County. The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office (KCSOS), working with representatives from local school districts, developed a five-day environmental education experience. A novel feature of KEEP, is that from the beginning, it was designed with mobility in mind. The program was designed so it could easily be moved from one location to another.
The first camp was held in the spring of 1969 at Tehachapi Mountain Park and Camp Condor near Pine Mountain Club. In spring 1971, KEEP was moved to Hart Flat.
In fall 1971, KEEP Ocean operated at a temporary location at Hazard Canyon within the Montaña de Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County. KEEP Ocean moved to its permanent home in Montaña de Oro State Park in spring of 1972, where it continues to operate today.
Because of its popularity, a second campus was opened in 1987 in the Sierra foothills near Glennville. The camp was operated on the grounds of Camp Dickson YMCA. KCSOS purchased the YMCA Dickson Camp in 1990 and officially re-named it after KEEP Sierra.
A third campus — KEEP Cambria — was added in 1992. Because California’s central coast was a more popular destination for local schools, KEEP Sierra was closed in 2003 and programs were condensed to the two coastal campuses.
During the 2017-18 school year, campers scheduled to attend KEEP Cambria were accommodated at two temporary sites due to on-going construction on the property where KCSOS had long leased land for KEEP Cambria. A new campus located in Arroyo Grande opened in August 2018 — known as KEEP By-the-Sea — to replace the KEEP Cambria.
KCSOS enters into a partnership with Tulare County office of Education to allow sixth graders to participate in “Scicon” — short for Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation — a residential science school near Springville in Tulare County.
KCSOS’s Assistant Superintendent for Education Services, Bruce Crawford, begins researching and planning for a “Scicon Kern,” so that more Kern County students can have access to outdoor education opportunities. Locations in Kern’s mountain or dessert communities and along the central coast are explored.
The first five-day sessions of Camp KEEP are held at Camp Condor near Pine Mountain Club and at Tehachapi Mountain Park. Camp KEEP is coordinated by George Houghton KCSOS’s director of science, conservation and outdoor education, under the leadership of Bruce Crawford and County Superintendent Harry Blair.
Camp KEEP sessions are held at Camp Condor near Pine Mountain Club and at Tehachapi Mountain Park.
Camp KEEP moves to a 10-acre plot on Keene Ranch, in the foothills off of Hwy. 58, 30 miles east of Bakersfield.
Local education officials and dignitaries gather in Hart Flat to officially dedicate KEEP as the Bruce M. Crawford School.
Harry Blair, county schools superintendent, explained at the ceremony that he selected the name to pay tribute to Crawford “who more than any one person has spearheaded the drive for this project since it was conceived more than four years ago.”Download Article
KEEP operates at Hazard Canyon south of Morro Bay in Montaña De Oro State Park.
Bruce Crawford tells The Bakersfield Californian in a news article dated Nov. 28 1971:
“The secret of our ability to move the school to an area that is under study is that its support facilities are on wheels. We use the environment itself as our classrooms. Therefore, when we move depending upon the season or the subjects’ demand, we simply pull mobile units to a new site. These units include kitchen, pantry, first aid, sanitation facilities, dormitories, and all the rest as simply as pulling any other trailer.”
KEEP Ocean is relocated to a new site within Montaña de Oro State Park, where it has operated since.
The Kern County Sherriff’s Mounted Posse donated $2,500 so that children with physically and mentally disabilities can take part in KEEP. It became the first of many donations over the years.
Camp is held at Cambria YMCA Camp due to heavy flooding at Montaña de Oro State Park.
Because of the popularity and growth of KEEP, KCSOS leases the YMCA Dickson Camp near Glennville, CA and opens a second camp.
KCSOS purchases YMCA Dickson Camp and officially renames it KEEP Sierra.
KEEP Cambria opens, at the request (and with the financial support) of the Bakersfield City School District, in order to give their students a coastal science experience operating out of the Cambria YMCA facility.
The KEEP Foundation is founded.
KEEP Cambria relocates to a new Cambria location, operating out of the Coalinga-Huron Park & Recreation District “Camp Yeager” facility.
KEEP Sierra is closed.
KEEP celebrates 35 years of operation.
KEEP celebrates 40 years of operation. A new dome is built at KEEP Ocean.
KEEP Ocean installs a new kitchen and adds a new entry native plant garden.
The KEEP Foundation holds its first Wine Camp for KEEP fundraiser. The event helps the Foundation donate more than $40,000 per year to help send kids in need to camp.
Camp KEEP is featured on the cover of Bakersfield Life Magazine.
KEEP Ocean completes an extensive project to renovate its outdoor amphitheater.
KEEP Cambria is held at two temporary campuses due to ongoing maintenance at its permanent campus. In the Fall 2017, camp is held at Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. In the Spring 2018, camp is held at Camp San Luis Obispo. KCSOS begins exploring options to move to a new, permanent location.
KCSOS leases property on the site of Camp Arroyo Grande for a new camp to replace the campus in Cambria. The new campus is slated to open Fall 2018 under the name KEEP By the Sea.
The first students arrive at Camp KEEP By the Sea in Arroyo Grande.
Please share your memories of your visit to Camp KEEP. We will promote on our social media pages.
The KEEP Foundation raises funds to help offset the cost of KEEP tuition for students with financial needs. If you would like to donate to the Foundation’s “Campership Fund,” click below.