Teachers Get Ready!

The Environmental Living Program provides students, parents, and teachers with a wonderful opportunity to learn about an unusual chapter in California history through hands-on participation.  For a successful and stress-free ELP or ELDP, carefully read through, ALL of the tabs on the Teachers – Get Ready! drop down menu. Then look through the following pages carefully to continue your preparations:

  • Dedicate at least 6 weeks of classroom time to prepare for your overnight stay
  • Study the ELP Website and be prepared to incorporate it into your classroom curriculum

Open Enrollment/Applications – 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. Fill out our ELP/ELDP Online Calendar here.

If a school has multiple classes coming, each teacher must fill out his or her own reservation form.


Class Size – Reservations will be granted for one program for one class or two classes if the total number of students is 40 or fewer. Teachers who team-teach will need to split the class into

two groups if the two classes total more than forty students; each teacher will have to submit a separate application. Teachers who team-teach a total student count fewer than forty may apply using one application.


Teacher in Charge – Each class must have a teacher on site that has completed the Fort Ross ELP Teacher Training in order to participate in the overnight program. The teacher on the reservation form MUST be the teacher on-site for the program –absolutely no substitutions are allowed. Reservations are issued to an individual teacher and are not transferable between teachers.The teacher and all parents MUST stay onsite throughout the entire ELP session.


Preparation –


Parents — Your Onsite Officers One of the first things you need to do is to find the parents who will help either in planning the trip or with the on-site activities. Some parents may be able to do both. Most teachers find that parents are very willing to help and are a tremendous resource.

It is important to direct the parent who is assigned a role group the Role Group link. Make sure that the parents who sign-up to help know what they are committing to and that they will be responsible enough to carry-through on any pre-site projects you give them. Also make sure that any parents who sign-on understand that they will have an important and responsible job on-site. Parents cannot expect to “do their own thing” while they are here. Parents will be with the children constantly while they are on-site. They are responsible for the welfare of the students.

A copy of the Teacher, Parent and Student contracts are included at the end of the Teacher’s Section. They must be agreed upon and signed as part of “entering the Fort Ross Company” and presented to the ELP Instructor upon arrival at the Fort gate.  We strongly recommend making this into a fun project, like making a passport or scroll all ‘employees’ could sign instead of a sheet of paper per person. Let’s go green!

Send out a letter telling parents about the program, describing groups and activities and ask how their skills may be of help. If you are lucky, you will find that you have a professional seamstress, a caterer, a gardener, an avid ocean-fisherman, an historical re-enactor experienced with flintlock muskets, and a cabinetmaker right there in your classroom. OK, that line-up would be pretty lucky. Even if you find that you don’t have any parents with the skills listed above, your trip to Fort Ross will go smoothly and be lots of fun as long as everybody pitches in. The number of parents you will need for the on-site program will, of course, depend on your class size. However there should never be more than 14 adults (Officers) plus teacher (Manager) to total 15.


Teacher’s Meeting with Parents – You will need to get all of the parents who want to be involved in the ELP together at a meeting as early as possible, a minimum of four weeks before your ELP date. At the meeting, you will need to explain what the program is about and encourage them with your enthusiasm. At Fort Ross you will need parent chaperones to help with each of the role groups: Artisans, Cooks, Hunters, Militia, Clerks and Gardeners or Gatherers. You will need two, or more likely, three parents for the cooks’ area. It is great if one of them has some camping and/or wood fire experience. All other groups should have two adults with them. You may also find it helpful to assign one parent to photo-duty for the day and one rover. Together with the students, parents may be able to almost completely take over the planning for their role group’s activities. Make sure you have copies of Role Group Sections and any other sections of this website pertinent to their job to hand out to the parents at your first meeting or the links in this website to send them to. If you can’t find enough parents to help out on-site, you may need to consider dropping out of the ELP for that year. Trying to handle all of the students, projects and activities without enough help can be very difficult.


Be Sure to Advise Parents –

  • The students are the employees; the parents are the officers who supervise
  • Parents must understand their responsibilities on-site
  • Parents must keep the employees on task
  • Parents are to know where their students are at all times and therefore allow no unsupervised wandering
  • Parents’ involvement in directing a quick and successful clean up is a must
  • Parents must sign the Parent Contract
  • Costumes –  Mandatory for students and parents

On Class Size and Parent Officer Numbers – There can be too many parents on site. We have found that if the ratio of students to parents is too high, the students focus more on the adults than on their independent learning experience. The intent of this program is for students to gain cultural, historical, and natural education and a sense of independence. If you are lucky enough to have a whole classroom of parents that want to get involved it can be difficult to turn down parents’ help. Please try to keep the ratio of 1 parent to 3 students with each role group depending on group size and activities.

When groups get too large there can be a space problem. In rainy weather cooking can be done in the Officials’ Quarters on camping stoves and/or in the brick oven. Seating for meals is limited. Going beyond the maximum of 40 students and 14 adults can make your experience more difficult to handle. It also imposes added stress to the site and to the ELP Instructor. Please use the following examples as strict guidelines for officer numbers and note that you may be turned away at the gate if you have brought too many officers. To avoid this, please discuss any questions or concerns with the ELP Manager and your ELP Instructor ahead of time.


For 40 students, and all 6 role groups, you will need a maximum of 14 adults, plus teacher

  • 2 Parent Officers for Militia
  • 2 Parent Officers for Hunters
  • 3 Parent Officers for Cooks
  • 2 Parent Officers for Gardeners or Gatherers
  • 2 Parent Officers for Artisans
  • 2 Parent Officers for Clerks
  • 1 photographer (optional)

For 20 students, and all 6 role groups, you will need a maximum of 11 adults, plus teacher (smaller classes that opt to enact fewer role groups, should adjust their number of Parent Officers accordingly) –

  • 2 Parent Officers for Militia
  • 2 Parent Officers for Hunters
  • 2 Parent Officers for Cooks
  • 2 Parent Officers for Artisans
  • 2 Parent Officers for Clerks
  • 1 Parent Officer for Gardeners or Gatherers (optional) 
  • 1 photographer (optional)

Note: The Photographer often sleeps with the Gardeners or Gatherers group, or in extra bedroom in the Officials’ Quarters.