The unique Tender Tracks Forest outdoor preschool program honors and respects the inherent need for young children to have ample time with nature, in order to develop a healthy bond and relationship to the natural world and all who dwell therein. Through stories, songs and explorations, children go on playful adventures into the heart of nature.
One of the strong components of Tender Tracks is it’s focus on loving presence with the children. The staff take the time that is needed to tend to the emotional, social, physical, mental and spiritual needs of each individual child and the group as they playfully receive the support, guidance and wisdom from Earth and Sky.
Photo: Coastal Camp in the Marin Headlands, courtesy NatureBridge
Living in Marin, you don't have to look far for a summer camp that takes advantage of some of the amazing natural resources we have right in our own backyard. Parents have several outstanding nature and outdoors oriented summer camps to choose from. Here is a selection of some of our favorite day camps in Marin that have an emphasis on the outdoors and the natural world around us for ages 4 to 18. To find more fantastic summer camps, visit our 2017 Marin Summer Camp Guide.
Audubon Youth Programs
Location: Richardson Bay Audubon Center, Tiburon
Dates: June 5–August 11
Cost: $320–$400 per week
Audubon Adventures Camp for kids in pre-K–3rd grade includes themes like Water Detectives, Living on the Bay, Shoreline Survivors, and Shark Week. Expedition Camp and On the Fly Camp are for children in grades 4–6, where campers deliver a little deeper into the varied habitats of Marin County and visit environments like the bay, ocean, redwood forest, and more. They also offer Youth Leaders for ages 11–17. Monday-Friday, 9 am–2 pm or 9 am–3 pm; extended hours untiil 5 pm are available for an additional cost. Register here.
Registration is now open for Marin's popular Slide Ranch Summer Day Camp, with sessions taking place from June 12 through August 18, 2017 at their spectacular seaside location in Muir Beach. Camps at Slide Ranch give kids a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience on a working farm and also explore the natural world surrounding the ranch.
Slide Ranch offers 10 nature-based camps geared for all different age groups including Ranch Rangers (ages 5 to 13), Slide Explorers (ages 5 to 8), and Junior Farmers (ages 8 to 13). Slide Ranch also offers three Junior Camp Counselor weeks for teens ages 14–18, where they attend and help teach at the camp.
Spending time in the outdoors as a family this fall can be both fun and educational: get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks and open space preserves, take advantage of our often lovely fall weather, and learn about the natural wonders that can be found all around us. A fantastic and eye-opening way to get out and experience nature in Marin is to take part in one of the naturalist-led family outings offered by Marin County Parks.
The parks department's Nature for Kids outings take place at Marin's many open space areas, and feature a leisurely, kid-paced hike with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. The hikes are informal and unstructured, and perfect for kids of all ages, although they seem geared for kids ages 3 to 12.
Bioneers is bringing back their popular Family Fair on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Marin County Fairgrounds in San Rafael. This unique learning-and-play program is free for families with kids 12 and under. Come learn from some of the country’s top nature-inspired education masters and have fun exploring a wide array of experiential education activities.
Attendance to the Family Fair is free for families, or check out the Bioneers Conference with a Tandem Ticket, allowing the kids to do kid things while two adults trade off experiencing the conference and hanging with kids at Family Fair.
Muir Beach's Slide Ranch is one of Marin's favorite family destinations for educational programs, camps, and more. But did you know you can visit the ranch's spectacular grounds any time you like? Since Slide Ranch is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it's open to the public every day, with no admission fee.
It's truly an amazing place, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, hiking trails, tidepools, a farm to explore, and one of the most amazing picnic areas we've ever encountered. It's a great place to visit even if there are no programs going on. Pack up the kids and a picnic and make a day of it!
Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Half Acre Woods, a new outdoor enrichment class for kids ages 2 to 7 in Marin.
Bugs, birds, seeds, and science make up the wonderful world of Half Acre Woods! We are a new outdoor enrichment class designed to engage kids, from the ages of two through seven, in the skills and practice of science. Exploring the world with our senses we smell bay leaves and mint, listen to the crackling of madrone bark, watch for woodpeckers and fence lizards, and touch anything we can get our hands on! (Except for poison oak that is.) Based on the new Next Generation Science Standards that California adopted in 2013, we strive to provide a strong basis for success with science in the classroom while enjoying all the benefits of outdoor education.
The majority of our day is spent observing natural phenomena, like quail families scurrying along in a line, and discussing our findings as we explore. Our approach focuses on the fundamentals of observation, evidence based argument, and construction of explanations. Our dedication to science practice and skills is steeped in a deep understanding and appreciation for positive social emotional development. As we explore we discover opportunities to practice sharing, volunteering, and considerate communication as well as working to build an understanding of the connections between our feelings, our actions, and the natural world.
Earth Day 2016 takes place on Friday, April 22. It’s a great time to celebrate and teach our children the importance of preserving our planet’s resources. Families will find plenty of ways to observe the occasion here in Marin County and the Bay Area, and we've created a list of local events that either celebrate Earth Day or help families learn about nature and the planet.
Fun Events for Earth Day
STEAM Saturday: Earth Day
San Rafael Public Library
Saturday, April 16, 11–11:45 am
STEAM powered stories, rhymes, songs, crafts, experiments, and sensory experiences for preschool children ages 3–6 and their caregivers. Please wear comfy clothes that are OK to get messy!Register at the Children’s Reference Desk, or at (415) 485-3322. Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
Spring is here, and it's time to enjoy a day on the farm! We're lucky to live in an area that's surrounded by some of the country's top agricultural producers, and some of them offer farm tours for the whole family. On a tour, you can meet animals, learn where your food comes from, and find out about the efforts that local farmers take to provide us with high quality food. My kids love to visit farms, especially at this time of year when there are plenty of baby animals to see.
Here are some of the farms in Marin and Sonoma County that offer public tours. Some are free, and some require advance reservations. Please keep in mind that these are all real working farms, some of which raise animals for human consumption. All these tours are suitable for families.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1, 2016, Sonoma County Farm Trails offers its annual Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies event, where farm hosts will offer tours, activiites, demonstrations, animal petting, crafts for kids, and more. Some farms will offer snacks, lunches, and picnic sites. Admission is free. Learn more and register here.