Palomar Mountain Home

Palomar Outdoor School

by Ken Wright (

Palomar Outdoor School is a long running program for inner city sixth grade students from San Diego City Schools. At one time it operated as a partner with the county's outdoor education program but since the passing of Prop. 13, it has been independent of the other camp programs. Now the camp is a part of San Diego's O.C.I.L.E program. This stands for off campus integrated learning experience. As 4th graders the students attend the Old Town Program for a week, as 5th graders the Balboa Park Program for a week and as 6th graders they attend Palomar Outdoor School for a week. The 6th grade program is the only one which is residential.The students arrive Monday about 10am and leave for home on Friday about 11am. Each week involves two or more schools from different areas of San Diego. The average camp population for a week is about 230 students, along with visiting teachers and staff. Some weeks the number soars to about 260 students or more, it makes a very busy week. Last year the program serviced over 10,000 sixth graders. For many of the students, this is the first experience away from home. Many have never visited a place with a beautiful natural environment like Palomar Mountain State Park. There is great cultural diversity in San Diego City Schools and this program allows for a fully integrated experience. The goal of the program is to implement a curriculum emphasizing the key concepts of identity, diversity, culture, prejudice, discrimination and confict resolution. Most activities include the inclusion of one or more of these key concepts. The other major emphasis is the appreciation of the natural world. Activities such as hiking, animal and plant study and Native American study are always enjoyed. During the week students experience personal growth in the areas of self responsibility, independence, and comfort in being with other people from different backgrounds. The camp is staffed with a teaching staff of 8 credentials and 16 classified instructors, two nurses which provide 24 hour a day nursing and counseling, a kitchen crew of 6, and a maintenance staff of 4. If you are interested in learning more or visiting the program, please call 760-742-3270.

Palomar Mountain home,