ELP

We are constantly updating the Programs website and our ELP manual. If you have suggestions or corrections, please email us at songh@fortross.org. We want this to be your go-to resource!

The Environmental Living Program provides hands-on learning which allows students 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, processing natural materials that have been gathered according to season, trading, practicing artisanal crafts, dancing, and generally working hard for the company, students gain a better understanding of history and their relationship to it. During an overnight Fort Ross ELP, 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 as that character during their stay. Students become Employees, parents become Officers, and teachers become Managers. This website provides all participants with appropriate historic characters to choose from. Each character is someone who really lived and worked at Fort Ross for the Russian American Company.

It is important to remember that it’s 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 onsite 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 will work with the teacher from registration until the day of their ELP session. Your group will be assigned an ELP Instructor who will send you a welcome letter via email with important information and some questions in order to prepare for your onsite program. During the days you are here at Fort Ross, your ELP Instructor will work alongside you and your group, offering guidance and support.  


ELP Planning Essentials – What is the ELP, how do I create a successful program?  This website is chock-full of information to help teachers and parents prepare for the Fort Ross Environmental Living Program.  To help you get off on the right foot, we put together this list of essentials. We strongly recommend you start with these webpages.


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.


ELP Family Camp – Would you like to experience a day in the life of Colony Ross with friends and family?  This program offers you the chance to experience daily life at Fort Ross with a trained instructor as your guide.


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 spend time on this beautiful stretch of California coastline, spending a starry night sleeping in a historic Russian blockhouse and making borscht or acorn pancakes on an open fire?


Teacher Training – Teacher training is critical to a successful program. Every new teacher must attend a Teacher Training workshop before their onsite program. Returning teachers must attend a refresher training after every three years. These trainings are held at various times during the school year — specific dates to be announced each year. Please note: Every class that comes to Fort Ross for an ELP or ELDP must have a teacher who has completed this training, and the teacher on the reservation form MUST be the teacher who attends the training. Absolutely no substitutions are allowed. Contact Song Hunter for more information.


ELP Program Fees$40/participant (including chaperones), 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. Once your group numbers are confirmed, the ELP Manager will send you an invoice for the remainder of the ELP session fees.


ELDP Program Fees – $20/participant (including chaperones), 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. Once your group numbers are confirmed, the ELP Manager will send you an invoice for the remainder of the ELP session fees.


Forms – Liability Release forms for all program participants (teachers, parents, and students) must be completed and submitted to the ELP Instructor — the media waivers are optional. All participants must read and agree to the rules outlined in their appropriate contract — there is a contract for teachers, one for parents, and one for students. These contracts are required, but you are not required to submit them to your ELP Instructor.


How to Apply – Open Enrollment for the Fort Ross Environmental Living Program (ELP/ELDP) starts 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 served basis, and according to space availability.


Cancellations – The following is Fort Ross Conservancy’s ELP/ELDP cancellation policy.

  • Your commitment fee of $200 is non refundable (see the following exception).  
  • 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 get in touch with you to discuss the situation. Final decisions on weather cancellations might be made over the phone early on the morning of the program.
  • If the Applicant School requests to reschedule the program date more than 30 days ahead, FRC will make every effort to reschedule and will transfer their 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.

Fee Waivers Available!Public lands and outdoor learning experiences should be available to all, irrespective of the cost, and FRC aims to minimize the financial challenges that keep kids from taking important field trips. Thanks to the generous support from our donors we have created the Fort Ross Education Fund to offer program fee waivers and/or transportation subsidies to schools that would otherwise be unable to participate. We welcome teachers of all schools to apply!