Environmental Living Program

** The ELP Website is a work in progress.  We are currently working to edit, update and digitize the entire ELP hardcopy Manual. We estimate there is still about a month until the completion of this project.  We are making printable PDF’s of most pages and adding them to the top of each page, but if you find material that you’d like to print and it doesn’t yet have a printable PDF, email me and I’ll make one pronto! Thank you for your patience and support!**

The Environmental Living Program provides hands-on learning which allows children to experience the joys of history as active participants, exploring the interaction between people and their environment. Immersed for a brief time in the past, students learn about the many cultures and lifestyles present at Settlement Ross. Through performing some of the tasks that were a part of daily life at Fort Ross such as cooking all their meals in an outdoor kitchen, fishing and ‘hunting’ for their food, gardening, making candles, collecting and stacking firewood, guarding the perimeter, trading, practicing artisanal crafts, dancing, and generally working hard for the company, children gain a better understanding of history and their relationship to it. Students, parents, and teachers sleep inside the historic compound buildings.

Students, parents, and teachers research and take on specific characters who lived at Fort Ross, and come in costume prepared to role play that character during their stay. Students become Employees, parents become Officers, and teachers become Managers. Each historic character is someone who lived and worked at Fort Ross, for the Russian American Company.

It is you, the teacher and parents, who make the ELP work. Your enthusiasm, creative interest, and pre-site planning will inspire the students’ interest and give them the unforgettable learning experience the Fort Ross ELP can provide. The purpose of this website is to help you plan for your on-site program. Planning a big trip like this may seem a bit daunting, but take heart, read on.  It will work out.

The FRC ELP Manager works with the teacher from registration until the day of their ELP session. An ELP Instructor works alongside the group during daylight hours at Fort Ross, offering guidance and support.  The curriculum is aligned with 3rd through 5th grade California state standards.  


ELP Website Essentials – What is the ELP, how do I create a successful program?  The website follows a logical sequence of preparations for the Fort Ross Environmental Living Program.  We suggest starting with this helpful and necessary list.


ELP (Overnight) or ELDP (Day-Only) – We offer an ELP overnight program on Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday, and a single day ELDP program on Wednesdays. Contact us if you’re interested in weekends.


Homeschool/Other Groups – Our ELP program is available year-round, and is great fun for homeschooling families, older students, and even adults! Who wouldn’t want to sleep in an eight-sided blockhouse and make borscht in a thirty-pound cast iron pot on an open fire?


Teacher Training – Teacher Training is critical to a successful program. Every teacher must attend this training every 3 years.  Trainings are scheduled 3 times a year during the ELP season. Contact Song Hunter for more information. The teacher on the reservation form MUST be the teacher on-site for the program. Absolutely no substitutions are allowed. The class must have a teacher trained during one of our ELP Teacher Trainings on-site in order to participate in the overnight program.


ELP Program Fees$40/participant (chaperones included), there is no fee for teachers.  Once you have received your ELP Date Confirmation letter, you are expected to send in your $200 Commitment Fee within 2 weeks. If we do not receive your commitment fee we will assume you are no longer interested and assign your date to others on the waiting list. The commitment fee is non refundable but is applied toward the total session fees. The remainder of the session fees will be due one month prior to your date unless you make other arrangements with the ELP Manager.


ELDP Program Fees – $20/participant (chaperones included), there is no fee for teachers.  Once you have received your ELP Date Confirmation letter, you are expected to send in your $200 Commitment Fee within 2 weeks. If we do not receive your commitment fee we will assume you are no longer interested and assign your date to others on the waiting list. The commitment fee is non refundable but is applied toward the total session fees. The remainder of the student fees will be due one month prior to your date unless you make other arrangements with the ELP Manager.


Forms – All students (Employees) and parents (Officers) must complete and submit our Liability and Heath Waiver as well as our Media Waiver before attending the ELP or ELDP.


How to Apply – Open Enrollment for the Fort Ross Environmental Living Program (ELP/ELDP) start April 1st.  Applications submitted before April 1st for the following school year will not be considered.  All applications are accepted on a first come first serve basis according to space availability.


Cancellations – The following is Fort Ross Conservancy’s policy for cancellation of an ELP or ELDP.  Your commitment fee of $200 is non refundable.  

  • If the ELP Manager cancels your program we will do everything possible to offer you another date or will refund your commitment fee and any program fees paid. Cancellations by FRC occur under these circumstances: when conditions occur that California State Parks considers unsafe, e.g. weather, road conditions or operational issues that will detract from the learning experience. The ELP Manager and Instructors follow current weather predictions from the National Weather Service. If the weather is threatening, the ELP Manager or Instructor will phone you the day before the program to discuss the situation. Final decisions on weather cancellations are generally made over the phone early on the morning of the program.
  • If Applicant School requests to reschedule the program date more than 30 days ahead, FRC will make every effort to reschedule and will transfer your deposit towards the newly scheduled session.  
  • If the request to reschedule happens less than 30 days before your session date, your Commitment Fee will not be refundable.
  • Make checks payable to FRC-ELP.  We also accept CC & PayPal.

FRC believes all students should have access to quality outdoor education. If you believe your school qualifies for a scholarship, please Apply for an FRC Scholarship.

For all questions, contact Director of Programs, Song Hunter at songh@fortross.org