Mark Day School
39 Trellis Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Outdoor Education

The Outdoor Education program, for grades 3-8, allows students opportunities to explore the natural world during unique and rewarding field experiences. Outdoor Education trips are invaluable in strengthening students' relationships, both with one another and with their teachers. Students develop self-reliance, independence, cooperation, and trust. They gain an appreciation of wilderness areas, insight into human interdependence with the environment, and awareness of the delicate ecological balance. Trained outdoor educators lead the students in fun and challenging activities. Where relevant, teachers integrate students' outdoor experience with the science and history curricula.

Third grade students venture on a two-day trip to Walker Creek in West Marin. Naturalists lead them on short nature hikes to study garden, pond, creek, and bay forest ecosystems. The 4th grade spends three days at Coloma Outdoor Discovery School, near an historic mining town, complementing their study of California history. Fifth graders camp for three days at Point Reyes, where they explore the history and habitat of the area. Sixth grade students camp at Pinnacles National Monument for four days, rock climbing and discovering the area's geology and ecosystems. The 7th grade spends five days in Yosemite, which presents them with the challenges of wilderness backpacking. In 8th grade, students travel to Oregon for a week-long white water river rafting trip down the Deschutes River.

Featured Trip: 7th Grade Backpacking in Yosemite

Seventh graders travel to Yosemite National Park for Outdoor Education, where they confront the challenges of wilderness backpacking, learn about the natural habitat, and work together to prepare camp.

As part of the Outdoor Education program, 7th graders depart for Yosemite to experience backpacking, group building, and the natural and human history of the area. They meet in Tuolumne campground, where they learn how to set up camp and begin backpack preparation and personal gear inspection. The following day, students are separated into groups and dropped off at different trailheads to begin backpacking. Along the way, they are trained in footcare/blister dressing, wilderness first aid, navigation, and astronomy. On the final day of their trip, students hike Vernal Falls and explore the Spider Caves.

Featured Trip: 4th Grade Visits Coloma Outdoor Discovery School

As part of the outdoor education program, 4th graders travel to an historic mining town to participate in hands-on activities relating to their study of California history.

During a unit on the gold rush, students travel to Coloma, where they meet naturalists, partake in outdoor excursions to real gold mining sites, visit a general store to purchase ingredients to make cornbread from scratch, and learn square dancing. A Native American speaker visits to discuss the environmental effects of gold mining and how students can get involved in changing the world for the better. The lesson culminates in an on-campus family event where students tell their miners' tales and show off their new skills on the dance floor.