Frequently asked questions
Where are you located?
We are one hour North of San Francisco, tucked in between the towns of Petaluma and Marshall. Our address is 1700 Marshall-Petaluma Road.
Who supervises the students?
At all times, students are supervised by Naturalists, teachers, or cabin leaders. We want to make sure everyone stays safe and has the support they need.
Can I contact my child during their program?
Students here get a chance to grow their independence and have some distance from their normal routine and home. Teachers, Naturalists, and cabin leaders are with students at all times, and students are quite busy during their week here. Parents and guardians are welcome and encouraged to send mail to their child. Unless under extenuating circumstances, we ask that parents and guardians do not call or expect to speak with their child. We understand that this can be difficult! We also believe it is in the students’ best interest to gain self-reliance and confidence here, and phone calls distract from the flow of the week.
How far is the health center from the teacher’s lodge?
These two facilities are in the same building. This makes it easy for teachers to be available 24/7 for visiting students who need medication and additional support.
Is there wifi on campus?
Yes. We ask for everyone here to make sure their phone is not used in front of students, besides for taking the occasional photo. During breaks, teachers and cabin leaders are welcome to use their phone in select areas, if needed.
What is the emergency protocol?
Hicks Valley Fire Department would be called in the event of an emergency. Our staff are well-trained in incident-command systems and there are four certified EMTs who are “on call” if needed.
What’s the food like?
Our kitchen prepares food with care, and ensures that each student has meals that meet their dietary needs. The meals offer variety, including classics like taco night and pasta night. Guests serve themselves from the buffet line according to recommended portions. You can see our
sample menu for more details.
What about students with allergies?
Our kitchen staff are well-versed in allergy and food safety, especially regarding tree and peanut allergies. Because of the increasing prevalence of nut allergies, we are a nut-free facility. We can also accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets. If you have further questions, please contact our food service manager, Eric Briggs.
How do showers work?
Every cabin group has an assigned shower time for the full days they are here. For example, on a 5-day week, students would shower Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Cabin leaders help time their group for a 15-minute shower block. Cabin leaders also have a seperate and private time to shower later in the day during their one-hour break.
How much “off time” do I have?
We understand that it can be hard to balance recharge time while also being available to meet the needs of students. As cabin leaders, you will always have an evening break, usually from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM. When not on break, we do ask that cabin leaders and teachers are available and present for each student’s needs.
What are the hikes like?
On the arrival day, students have a short and relatively easy walk, complete with ample time for lunch and a few activities on trail. The rest of the week, the hikes vary in scope and include a 5-mile hike to Walker Peak where students enjoy a picnic lunch as a mid-day break on their adventure.
Will other schools be there?
Depending on the week, there may be one or more schools attending Walker Creek at the same time. Teachers decide in advance if the students’ trail groups will be mixed with children from other schools or remain separate.
Who makes the groups of students for cabins?
Teachers make the trail groups, which consist of two cabins. Students are often placed with at least one of their “top requests,” and teachers do their best to make groups that are cohesive, while also allowing new friendships to form.
What if it’s raining?
During the winter months, rain is a likely occurrence that brings lots of life to our bay forests. Newts, banana slugs, and rainbows are frequent sightings! If possible, we ask that students bring plenty of warm layers and rain gear, especially during the winter. We also provide ponchos as needed!
If I’m not a cabin leader, can I come during the week?
You are welcome to come during our arrival or departure day, if you can! On arrival days, students have a campus tour, lunch, an opening ceremony, and a “welcome walk” in nature. Afterwards, at 2:30 PM, students say goodbye to any parents or guardians visiting that day, and continue their packed week. On departure days, you are welcome to arrive. We recommend a prompt 10:30 AM arrival so you can witness the closing ceremony! If attending either of these days, you will need to sign-in at our office. Other than those times, we ask that you do not visit, as gaining independence is a key part of each student’s week.