El Capitan Canyon, California

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This Ambassadors of the Environment program takes place at the beautiful El Capitan Canyon Ranch located on the Central California coast just north of Santa Barbara. School groups can sign up for 2-5 day programs in which participants stay overnight at the El Capitan campground in comfortable eco cabins. The program highlights a remarkable diversity of ecosystems, including the beautiful coastal chaparral, kelp beds, riparian zone, sandy beach and rocky intertidal zone. During the summer, Ambassadors of the Environment staff offer teacher workshops that highlight the environmental education curriculum used during the student programs.

We emphasize hands-on, experience-based learning activities that are balanced with team-building games, climbing wall challenges, and discussion sessions. The curriculum is infused with lessons about sustainable living, renewable energy, and community-based action, empowering participants to make a difference in their own lives as well as change their local community. A Native American Chumash representative presents insights about how the Chumash lived along this coast sustainably for thousands of years before outside interference. Students discover that important lessons for contemporary living are embodied in the wisdom of this ancient culture. This enriching experience leave students with what they cannot find in a classroom- the chance to study natural ecosystems, cultural history, and sustainable living firsthand.

The educational program is closely lined to National and State of California Department of Education science and social science curricula standards and geared for 3rd – 12th grades. The program at El Capitan is flexible and can be adjusted to the special interests of private schools and groups.

All of our instructors have a college degree in natural or environmental science, are over age 21, have had experience working with young people, and are First Aid/CPR certified. All waterfront staff have life guarding certificates as well. Staff are qualified by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s education team, and instructor to camper ratio is a maximum of 1:10.

Students and groups stay in El Capitan Canyon's wooden bunk cabins (sleep 4-5 students and 1 teacher/chaperon). School groups are required to have 1 teacher/chaperon of the appropriate gender in each cabin with the students.

Our Ambassadors of the Environment team also sets up our community with our own organic outdoor chef, outdoor kitchen, and picnic area providing all the meals and snacks during our programs. During programs we set up our camps as a sustainable community- eating organic local foods, composting waste and feeding our camp worms in the vermaculture bin, growing food in an organic garden, recycling, using solar and other renewable energy resources, as well as learning how to build sustainable connections with all the communities that are around us at El Capitan Canyon and back home!


“The program was first class. It was extremely well planned and thought out, very educational and hands-on, and best of all…fun. Kudos to everyone involved...you put on a great program. I think this was life changing for all of us at La Patera School and I feel very fortunate for the experience”.
Amy Jacobs, 4th grade mother

“I really understood that everything was connected.”
Grayson Arango, Carpinteria Middle School

“Great job! I know it was hard to organize and keep track of the all the little things. You all did a great job and should feel really good about what you accomplished.”
Donna Stuart, Principal, Aliso Middle School

“This was an excellent workshop, which exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot scientifically, for living sustainably, as well as felt inspired to implement new things in my classroom/school.”
Krista Beard, El Camino School-Santa Barbara, CA.

“This was a life changing experience! I hope to bring all of the ideas back to my school and inspire others.”
Jessica Kline, Highcrest Middle School teacher- Wilmette, IL.

“I learned a huge amount during all these activities. The concepts I learned can now easily be adapted to my home and curriculum.”
Jenny Brahmstead, Broadway Elementary, Grand Junction, CO.