KEEP By the Sea
at Rancho El Chorro
The amazing home of KEEP By the Sea is situated near Morro Bay, nestled in the foothills of the Cuesta Ridge. The expansive campus boasts 250-acres of protected land, plus built-in benefits and recent improvements
KEEP by the Sea Campus
- Learning Center complete with terrariums, animal specimens, microscopes, and hands-on sensory activities
- Outdoor nature areas include greenhouse, native plant garden, and bird viewing area
- Common animal sightings include deer, wild turkeys, brush rabbits, monarch butterflies, owls, and California quail
- Beautiful large campfire amphitheater; before bed students gather around the fire for stories, songs and laughter
Cabins & Facilities
- Each cabin houses 7 students and 1 adult
- Each yurt houses 17 students and 3 adults
- Cabins have optional privacy pod for changing clothes
- Modern bathrooms and showers with locking doors and privacy curtains.
- Handicap-accessible trailers, bathrooms, & showers
- Separate trailers for classroom teachers within sight of the student trailers.
- 3 meals a day that are well-balanced, kid-friendly, and tasty!
- Optional morning & afternoon snacks provided
- Hot beverage & snack bar for adults
- Recycling & food scrap composting practiced
- Optional menus available for vegetarians and those with food allergies
During their week at KEEP, students will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience as they explore a variety of unique and beautiful coastal ecosystems. The natural curiosity of each student will be sparked as they make observations, practice field journaling, participate in inquiry-based activities, and engage in evidence-based discussions.
Students visit various locations in the Morro Bay estuary discovering the many plants and animals that live in and around it. At the salt marsh and mudflats, students learn how mudflats are formed. They also investigate plants called “halophytes” and animals that live under the mud. While exploring the life “under the sea,” students will access a local boat for our famous “Belly Biology” lesson. At Morro Rock, students observe peregrine falcons and sea otters, and learn about the geology of this local landmark participating in hands-on activities. Students will also interact with our local watershed learning about human and natural impacts that shape the estuary.
Woodland & Riparian
Woodland Creek Day Students spend the day exploring the ecosystems of our 250-acre campus. Riparian, grassland, oak woodland, and chaparral plant communities offer a variety of wildlife to spark student curiosity. Students use many tools to identify the plants and animals they find and look for evidence that animals left behind such as bones, fur, and feathers. During our Oak Woodland lesson, students challenge themselves to hike to the top of the mountain exploring each plant community along the way. At the top of the mountain, 650-feet, students can see the ocean and the mountain range known as the Nine Sisters, from Bishop’s Peak to Morro Rock. While studying the riparian ecosystem, students learn about invertebrates and other fascinating plants and animals that can be found in this magical part of our campus. Just like scientists, students will learn to record their findings in their field journals. After exploring what lives here, students investigate decomposition in action, gaining a deeper understanding of all the ecological processes occurring on our beautiful campus.
Open Coast Day
Tidepools and Beach Day
Students visit the intertidal (tide pools) and beach ecosystems where they traverse over a rocky and sandy coastline and discover how creatures above and below ground survive in the face of the changing tides. Students compare and contrast algae and invertebrates learning about structural and behavioral adaptations organisms use to stay alive. Students can also touch and compare seaweeds such as bull kelp, rockweed, and giant kelp. In the tide pools, students can hold and study turban snails, hermit crabs, limpets, shore crabs, sea stars, sea anemones and more. On the beach, students participate in a focused study of what structural and behavioral adaptations beach hoppers use to survive. Students will also visit our Marine Center where they can hold animals in our touch tank and investigate the bones and fur of marine mammals.
- 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Wake-up, get ready for the day, and eat breakfast. Students fill out their daily activity journal.
- 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Nature walk to Tidepools/Beach, Estuary, or Woodland Creek Discovery.
- 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Nature walk: Tidepools/Beach, Estuary, or Woodland Creek Discovery.
- 3:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
During this time, students enjoy and afternoon snack while 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. – 9:30 p.m.
Evening program and bedtime. Students work together playing various science games. Games are followed by a campfire, songs, and stories. After campfire, students prepare for the next day and for a good night’s sleep.
Quick Links - KEEP By the Sea
A few quick guides before coming to KEEP
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