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Schedules and Arrival

Schedules and Arrival


Planning Your Onsite Activities – We strongly suggest you consider using one of the Sample Schedules. The program flow of these schedules has proven most efficient and effective over the many years the program has been in operation. 

If you want to create a custom schedule, it’s important to work with your ELP Instructor to create a schedule that will better meet the particular needs of your group. You are welcome to use your own and your students’ creative ideas to augment the onsite program. However, it is important that you be in communication with your ELP Instructor so that your changes can be assessed for their viability and agreed upon prior to your arrival. 

Keep in mind that short winter days will require that you use a different schedule from long fall or spring days, use the Early Sunset schedule samples. Try to strike a balance within your schedule. You want your students to be active and involved as much of the time as possible, but not so much that the group begins experiencing widespread ‘meltdowns’ from not having enough quiet time.

As the head of the program, Teachers will need to float from Activity Group to Activity Group, helping out where needed. Your ELP Instructor will also be available to help where needed but will not remain with any one Activity Group for any extended period of time.

It is really important to have activities planned for your entire visit. The time right before dinner and right after dinner can be a time when parents tend to ‘let loose’ and socialize. Students tend to start having a new surge of energy. Please monitor this. Before dinner, have journal writing time, drawing time, or structured game time with the entire class. Right after dinner is also a very good time for teachers to take the students on a walk to visit the windmill and view the sunset. This allows the parents to have some down time, time to socialize, and gives them a renewed interest as the students come back to them.

Rotation of Activity Groups – Please remember that rotation of individual students through different Activity Groups is not how this program is designed. 

Sleeping Arrangements – Traditionally, Activity Groups remain together throughout their entire visit to Metini / Fort Ross, and sleep co-ed. It is important that you have more than one adult in each sleeping area. Parent Leads must sleep in the same area as their assigned Activity Group so they can get their students off to night watch quickly and quietly. If you, your Parent Leads or your district require separate sleeping quarters for girls and boys, please let your ELP Instructor know.

Arrival Protocol – Your class’s arrival at Metini / Fort Ross plays a big role in how smooth the program will go from start to finish. Please read through ALL of the Arrival Protocol information carefully, and thoroughly discuss your arrival scenario with all of your parents!

  • Do not arrive at the Fort Compound before 10 am unless agreed upon beforehand with your ELP Instructor. 
  • Walking In From Reef Campground – The easiest way to coordinate the hike is to have all cars rendezvous at Reef Campground entrance. The campground is about ten miles north of Jenner (and about a mile south of the main entrance to Fort Ross State Historic Park). It is a good idea to plan for a snack when you arrive at the Reef Campground entrance. As there are no toilets available at the campground, please consider using the public bathroom near the post office in Jenner. When everybody has arrived, have the driving parents take a few parent-helpers and drive to the fort (ocean gate) to quickly unload the gear, leaving behind the Teacher, students, and enough parents to make the walk safely. Do not leave any cars behind at Reef.
  • To Make the Hike from Reef – We encourage you to have your students “fox walk” during this hike. From the area around the kiosk/entrance station walk downhill through the campground until you get to the parking area/turn-around at the bottom of the road where you will come upon a large sink hole – the reason for the park’s current closure. Look up the hill to the north (right) for the trail to (Metini) Fort Ross. The trail is marked. (Watch out for the poison oak near this trailhead.) Following the trail along the bluffs to Sandy Cove, descend to the sand, cross the creek, and continue up the gravel road up to the fort. The full hike takes a minimum of 30 minutes. Don’t rush the hike. Encourage them to ask questions. Look at the local flora and fauna on the marine terrace and out to the sea for ships or whales. Taking your time to enjoy and learn gives the drivers more time to unload. If the cars are still unloading in front of the fort then slow your walk or spend some time at the cove.
  • WARNING – On very rainy days or on days just after heavy rains, the creek along the Reef hike may be impassable. If it has been raining, please email us at the fort a day or so before your program date to ask if it is possible to safely cross the creek. You will be in contact with your ELP Instructor at this point and can discuss with them the best arrival protocol to follow, as you get closer to your program date.
  • IMPORTANT – The front gate at Fort Ross SHP entrance may be locked at various times of the year, if we are closed to the public. When applicable, the gate code will be shared with you when we contact you before your arrival. Please convey to all drivers that this gate must be locked after coming into the park and when leaving, on days that the Park is closed to the public.
  • Parents Drive and Drop Off Gear – Drive from the campground a few miles north to the main park entrance. Have your parking passes ready to show. Proceed past the kiosk/entrance station slowly and drive to the dirt road at the end of the parking lot. Follow this road to the left and then down to the fort itself (ocean gate). The speed limit on this road is 10 mph. 
  • Unloading Gear – Please check in with the ELP Instructor in the Officials’ Quarters or Officers Barracks (OB) before unloading to receive instructions. It works best to take sleeping and personal gear out of the cars, and place it on a tarp, or the benches, just inside the fort wall to the left. Put lunch bags on the picnic tables inside the fort. If it is raining, all the sleeping and personal gear will go in storage downstairs in the Southeast Blockhouse for the day. Your ELP Instructor will let you know where to put lunches, in the event of rain. Do not put gear into any of the buildings in which the students and parents will be sleeping. Everyone will receive directions from the ELP Instructor when it is time to set up personal gear in sleeping quarters AFTER their activity work is cleaned up on Day 1. Food and kitchen gear can be carried to the tables in the kitchen area by the fire pits behind the OB. You will need to unload as quickly as possible to ensure that drivers have time to park by the windmill and return to the fort in time to greet the hiking students. 
  • Cars must remain in the upper parking lot throughout your visit! Make sure to place the ELP parking pass on the dash of each car. The next morning when you are ready to leave Metini / Fort Ross, you may bring cars to the front gate of the fort to load supplies. If you are remaining in the park that day, your cars will need to be returned to the upper parking lot.
  • If your group is unable to hike in from Reef Campground – In the case of rain or if your ELP Instructor has determined the creek is too high, drive straight to Fort Ross SHP. Unload supervised students at the Visitor Center where restrooms will be open. Plan for this contingency with your ELP Instructor. Parents with equipment drive the cars down to the fort, unload gear, and then return to the upper parking area. When everyone has reunited, walk to the fort compound together to be greeted by the ELP Instructor. Only if it is raining hard would you drive directly to the Fort to unload students and gear.

Leaving Metini / Fort Ross – When leaving Metini / Fort Ross, we highly recommend a visit to the Fort Ross Visitor Center, Museum and Bookshop. There is much to learn from the museum and many interpretive items, nature guides, and historical resources available to buy to continue their education. If you would like to schedule this into your program, please let your ELP Instructor know when you email them your schedule.

Approximate Driving Times –

From Santa Rosa – 1 ½ hours

From Petaluma – 1 ½ hours

From San Francisco – 2 ½ hours

From Sacramento – 3 ½ hours

From Fort Bragg – 2 hours

Please keep in mind that these driving times do not account for changing road conditions. Check here for any road work and plan accordingly: