The camping branch of the YMCA of Silicon Valley
YMCA Camp Campbell

Outdoor Education

Education comes to life at our Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School (CCOSS) where 5th and 6th grade students experience the thrills of nature through hands-on lessons and activities. We foster a love for nature and the outdoors, and the development of attitudes and practices that build character and awareness for the environment—all amidst the fun of campfires, songs, and meaningful relationships.

At Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School, students will:

  • Experience a hands-on “living” curriculum in an outdoor setting
  • Develop an understanding of their role in the environment
  • Gain independence as they spend 4 days and 3 nights away from home in an atmosphere committed to building healthy youth through asset development.
  • Learn responsibility as they take care of themselves and their belongings
  • Gain respect for others as they share a living space with fellow students

Students also participate in traditional camp activities like sing-a-longs, bouldering/climbing wall, skit nights, arts & crafts, group games, BBQs, and science-based night hikes.

Participate in Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School.
Contact us at redwoods@ymcasv.org or 831-338-2128, or to schedule a tour, please click here.


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Environmental education at Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School is an extension of classroom curriculum. Just as students go to the lab to study chemistry or to the gym to study physical education, students need to go the outdoors to learn best how the environment operates. Students see, feel, hear, and smell the realities of nature.

Our program goals:

  • Enhance concepts learned in the classroom
  • Develop an understanding and appreciation of the functioning ecosystems
  • Develop an understanding of the interdependence between humans and the environment
  • Provide a quality experiential learning adventure in an outdoor setting
  • Develop respect for self, others, and the environment
  • Increase students’ sense of self-worth through successful learning


While lessons vary according to individual field teachers, weather conditions, specific class needs, and inspiration of the moment, these core concepts are common to the experience of all students:

  • Adaptation
  • Interdependence
  • Cycles/Changes
  • Community
  • Ecological Responsibility
  • Conservation

Functioning ecosystems investigated:

  • Riparian and lotic aspects of the San Lorenzo River, and the unique characteristics of the redwood forest, mixed evergreen forest, chaparral and meadow communities.
  • Experiential strategies and activities like observation, measurement, sampling, sensory experience and interpretation, and comparative investigations.
  • Fundamental ecology and resource management concepts in ever field study.

Variety of teaching techniques:

  • Each field group participates in a daylong hike, approximately 3-5 miles round trip, traveling through several eco-communities.
  • Students experience a night hike and astronomy study that emphasizes nocturnal animal life and nighttime sensory awareness.
  • Students participate in a campfire where each cabin group presents a skit about concepts learned during the week.

Social Benefits

At YMCA Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School, students and their teachers create a common bond in the outdoor experience that they bring back into the classroom to expand and build upon.

  • Students see their teachers in a whole new light as teachers step back from the teaching role to interact with their students.
  • Teachers see students, who may normally struggle in the classroom setting, thrive in our hands-on, outdoor environment.

We have several different schools onsite weekly. Students are integrated from each school into cabin and field groups, allowing students to make new friends and learn about others from different cultures and backgrounds.


Field Teachers
Our qualified staff of California credentialed field teachers and naturalists lead students through our curriculum. Our field teachers and naturalists are experienced in the special structure and teaching skills required by an outdoor classroom setting. All naturalists have completed an 8 week intensive internship program.

Cabin Leaders

  • Students are supervised in the cabins by mature and responsible high school student volunteers who are at camp as part of a teen leadership program.
  • Cabin leaders are in good academic standing and must obtain a signature from all of their teachers as a reference that they are a good role model for younger children.
  • Cabin leaders participate in extensive training where they learn behavior management, child abuse prevention, appropriate games to play and stories to tell, and much more.
  • Each cabin leader is guided and supervised throughout the week by a field teacher.

Schools may bring their own cabin leaders, or assist our Cabin Leader Coordinator with recruiting leaders from high schools in the school’s district.

Health Service

CCOSS Teacher Guide
Parent Forms (english)
Parent Forms (spanish)
YMCA Camp Campbell Facility Map
Directions to Camp
Health History Form
(english) (spanish)
Liability Waiver
(english) (spanish)
Ropes Course Waiver
(english) (spanish)

YMCA Camp Campbell
16275 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

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