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Watershed Explorers

Connecting Kids with Nature

Watershed Explorers is an all-expenses-paid summer day camp for children to explore nature at locations up and down the San Dieguito River watershed. The final location, at the Surprise Farm Retreat Center in Ramona, includes an overnight stay. The free camp provides transportation, lunch and supplies to all attendees.

Participants include two-dozen children ages 12 to 18 from underserved communities in Escondido and staff from San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, Volcan Mountain Foundation, Surprise Farm Retreat Center, Escondido Public Library and other partner organizations.

In 2024, the Watershed Explorers session included visits to Volcan Mountain (near Julian); Sikes Adobe (South Escondido); San Diego Archaeological Center (San Pasqual Valley); Lake Hodges (West Escondido); San Dieguito Lagoon (Del Mar); Surprise Farm Retreat Center (Ramona).

The 2024 session was featured in an article in The Coast News.

Established in 2015, Watershed Explorers is in its second year of focusing on underserved communities in Escondido thanks to an Outdoor Equity Grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

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FIELD TRIP INFORMATION

Watershed Explorers is a “passport” style program that takes youth on a journey of the San Dieguito Watershed through a series of 5 separate field trips to the following sites:

  • Volcan Mountain

  • Lake Hodges

  • San Diego Archaeological Center

  • Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead

  • San Dieguito Lagoon

 

Field trips are offered throughout the week starting at 9:00 am. Site activities vary and typically run between 2 to 4 hours (location dependent).

Upon completion of the 5 field trips, participants earn the title of “Watershed Explorer” and receive the following to inspire them to continue to get outdoors and explore:

  • Watershed Explorers string backpack

  • Watershed Explorers hat

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Travel-size sunscreen

 

Target Grade Levels: 3rd — 5th


Maximum Class Size: 26 students


Chaperone Ratio: 1 chaperone per 8 students


Transportation: Two 15-passenger vans are available to transport students


Suggested Donation: $5 per participant per field trip
Donations are accepted to support the cost of educational materials, transportation and program administration. If needed, the program may be offered free of charge to any school or organization that inquires.

Request a Field Trip

Click HERE to make a donation.

DONORS/FUNDERS

ACTIVITIES AT VOLCAN MOUNTAIN

Led by the Volcan Mountain Foundation (VMF), activities at the Volcan Mountain Nature Center include an interactive, hands-on, 3D-map where students create a “rainstorm” to reveal how water flows into rivers and how pollutants effect all life along the watershed. Students then test the water quality outdoors at our year-round steam to determine its ability to support life. The day culminates with a hike to the top of our Sky Island Trail where they explore the Oak-Pine Woodland and can view the watershed from a mile high.

Teacher resources:

 

Download site curriculum here.

 

Volcan Mountain site visit video available here.

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ACTIVITIES AT LAKE HODGES

Activities at Lake Hodges are led by the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy . Students will learn about the importance of this area to overall watershed vitality and health. They will be introduced to monitoring and management efforts being conducted within the San Dieguito watershed and become citizen scientists for the day collecting valuable data for the SDRP. Specifically, they will get hands on experience with water quality testing and bird surveys.

Teacher resources:

 

Download site curriculum

 

Lake Hodges site visit video available here.

ACTIVITIES AT THE SAN DIEGO ARCHAEOLOGICAL CENTER

At the San Diego Archaeological Center, students are introduced to the cultural history of the region, including the use of natural resources in the valley. An important scientific tool (observation and inference) will be taught and practiced. The importance of preserving and protecting archaeological sites will be emphasized.

Teacher resources:

Download site curriculum here.

San Diego Archaeological Center site video available here.

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ACTIVITIES AT THE SIKES ADOBE HISTORIC FARMSTEAD

Guided by the San Dieguito River Park, students will learn what it was like to be a pioneering family, how the community functioned through crop production, trading and animals that provided food and milk, and the importance of the natural environment in daily living.

Teacher resources:

Download site curriculum here.

Sikes Adobe Historical Farmstead site visit video available here.

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ACTIVITIES AT SAN DIEGUITO LAGOON

Led by the San Dieguito River Park, participants will go on an interactive, ranger-led hike along the San Dieguito Lagoon Trail learning about the importance and diversity of the lagoon. There will be serval stops along the hike, including bird watching and conducting water quality testing at the storm water treatment ponds.

Teacher resources:

Download site curriculum here.

San Dieguito Lagoon site visit video available here.

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VOLUNTEER

VOLUNTEER IN SAN DIEGUITO RIVER VALLEY, CA

Join us as we spread our enthusiasm and knowledge to the next generation of citizens and stewards of the outdoors with our volunteer research in San Dieguito River Valley.

The Watershed Explorers Program is seeking volunteers to be Watershed Educators interested in the distinctive nature, history, and culture of the San Dieguito River Watershed stretching 55 miles from Volcan Mountain west to Del Mar.

Watershed Educators will inspire youth in grades 3-5 to value and protect the natural and cultural resources in this and other watersheds through educational activities and hikes. Training and access to exclusive events will be provided to Watershed Educators, ensuring their ability to create a welcoming and safe environment for visitors and prepare and deliver planned and impromptu lessons.

See duties for Watershed Educator.

SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER!

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