Planning Your Onsite Activities – Use one of the sample schedules supplied here (or put together a customized schedule) that will work for your group. It’s important to communicate with ELP staff if creating a custom schedule, in order to get approval on any item changes. You are welcome to use your own and your students’ creative ideas to augment the onsite program. However, any significant variation from the samples MUST be discussed with the ELP Manager or ELP Instructors prior to your visit. Failure to do so can result in dismissal from the Fort Ross ELP. Don’t forget that short winter days will require a different schedule from long fall or spring days, use the Early Sunset schedule samples as needed. Try not to over or under schedule activities for the day.
As the Manager of Colony Ross, Teachers will need to float from group to group helping out where needed. Your ELP Instructor will also be available to help where needed. Please do not plan to have the ELP Instructor with any one role 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. Employees tend to start having a new surge of energy. This is a rough combo. 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 employees come back to them.
Rotation of Groups – Please remember that rotation of individual students through different role groups is not allowed in this program. There are several reasons for this. First, having the students go from place to place does not allow them to fully experience the life routine of their chosen character. Secondly, it is a whirlwind for students and adults alike. The teacher becomes a frantic timekeeper trying to keep the various groups going to the right place at the right time. Thirdly, the students don’t usually have sufficient time to finish any of their projects.
Sleeping Arrangements – Sleeping arrangements can be a difficult issue. It is up to you, the parents, and your administration how you divide boys and girls in the buildings at night. We have never heard of problems arising from mixing boys and girls when letting role groups stay together in the sleeping areas. However, it is something that some parents might be concerned about. It is definitely important to make sure that you have more than one adult in each sleeping area. Parents must sleep in the same area as their assigned role group so they can get their group off to night watch quickly and quietly.
Arrival Protocol – Your company’s arrival at 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. There is a (seasonal) restroom at the top and/or a porta potty at the bottom of the campground area where you catch the trail to the fort. 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 – 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. A porta potty is located here – please allow time for students to use the bathroom. Look up the hill to the north (right) for the trail to Fort Ross. The trail is marked. (Watch out for the poison oak near this trailhead.) Follow the trail to Sandy Cove, descend to the sand, cross the creek, and 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 is often locked, as we are closed at various times in the year. 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. 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. Lunches should separately be placed on the picnic tables in 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 employees and officers will be sleeping. Students and parents will move and set up personal gear in sleeping quarters AFTER their project work is wrapped 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 very quickly to ensure that the cars are moved and drivers are back at the fort before the employees arrive from their walk. This is important in ensuring all officers are back at the fort to welcome the employees as they hike in from their long journey.
- As soon as you are unloaded, drive your car back to the Visitor Center Parking lot. Cars must remain in the parking lot during your visit! Park near the windmill. Make sure to place the ELP parking pass on the dash of each car. Then walk back to the fort for further instructions, prior to arrival of the students. The next morning when you are ready to leave Colony Ross, you may bring cars to the front gate of the fort only long enough to load supplies.
- For groups who cannot walk from the campground – This would be in the case of rain or the creek is too high, drive straight to Fort Ross SHP, skipping Reef all together. Unload supervised employees at the Visitor Center where restrooms will be open (IF you’ve properly planned this morning with your ELP Instructor). It is best not to stop in the Bookshop when you arrive in the morning because it can detract from the historical experience of the fort. Officers drive the cars down to the fort, unload gear, and then drive back to the 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 should you drive directly to the Fort and unload students and gear.
Leaving Colony Ross – When leaving Colony 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: http://roadconditions.sonoma-county.org/