Frequently Asked Questions

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 Student 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 about ticks?

    Facts about Lyme Disease in California Ticks are a fact of nature. Frequenting the brush along trails; ticks are blind, deaf, and cannot fly or jump. They simply wait for an animal to brush up next to them and hitch a ride. When they find a nice, warm, uninterrupted space on the body, they bite. Most tick bites cause temporary discomfort and itch but do not transmit disease. The deer tick, however, can be the carrier of Lyme disease.

    Being Informed
    The KEEP staff regularly receives tick training on tick anatomy and behavior, proper tick removal techniques, and signs and symptoms of infection. The Bay Area Lyme Disease Foundation (www.bayarealyme.org) is a great resource for further tick and Lyme disease information.

    How to Prepare Your Student
    The best measure for prevention is to ensure your child comes with long pants, long socks and an undershirt to tuck underneath layers for each day at camp. Light colored clothes also allow for easier tick spotting. Consider treating your family’s existing clothing with Permethrin in advance of camp to offer long-lasting, extra protection against all insects – including ticks. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is believed to repel ticks and several all-natural organic sprays now exist on the market.

    Our Preventions & Protocols
    During hikes, students are shown what ticks look like, taught how they behave and where they are commonly located. Students are taught to walk in the middle of the trail and avoid brushing against plants. Pants are tucked into socks and shirts into pants since ticks like to crawl up. Naturalists stop during hikes for tick checks. If ticks are found on clothing, naturalists demonstrate how to remove the tick in a safe way.

    If a student has been bitten by a tick, KEEP follows these protocols:

    • Using tweezers, the tick is grasped as close to the skin as possible and pulled straight out. The area is then washed with an antibacterial wipe.
    • The tick is sealed in a labeled plastic bag and an informational pamphlet is attached. Parents can choose to send the tick to a laboratory to check for Lyme Disease.
    • The tick bite is logged into our medical records and the teacher is informed.
    • If the tick comes out cleanly, the teacher calls the parent and provides option A or B (see below). If tick breaks in the skin, the teacher calls parents and provides options A, B, or C (see below).
      • Parents wait until Friday to treat
      • Parents come to KEEP and bring student to local urgent care clinic
      • Teachers bring student to emergency room for tick removal
  9. 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.
  10. Asbestos Information
    Asbestos Letter