Growing up I recall a song playing on the radio that was a parody of a fictional “Camp Granada” set to the tune of Ponchelli’s Dance of the Hours. This novelty song by Allan Sherman and Lou Busch is said to be based on letters Allan received from his son Robert who was away at camp. The name of the song originates from the first few lyrics. “Hello Muddah, hello Faddah. Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining. And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.”

Sherman’s lyrics go on to tell a comical story about campers gone missing, contracting deadly illnesses, fear of bears, and promises to let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss if allowed to come home. By the end of the song, the rain has stopped and the campers are swimming, sailing, and playing baseball. The camper asks his parents to “kindly disregard this letter”.

The song has been translated into multiple languages and gained popularity globally because many cultures have some type of overnight camp serving as a rite of passage for safe experiences away from the family. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education operates the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor Educational Campus that is tucked away in the hills above San Luis Obispo. These 250 protected acres include a nature preserve, a school campus, a one-room schoolhouse, incredible learning resources, and a regional education conference center. The school provides hands-on learning opportunities for students studying science and ecology in a natural setting. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education has been providing outdoor education to the community for over 40 years. Nearly 300,000 students and 10,000 adults have enjoyed and benefited from the programs and facilities which were previously part of Camp San Luis Obispo.

Nestled between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay off of Highway One, the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School preserve affords some wonderful hiking trails along Pennington Creek, an oak woodland forest, a pond, classrooms, a newly renovated amphitheater courtesy of local Rotary clubs, and Yurt Village #2 was just completed by the Cayucos Rotary Club. Our outdoor education programs bring San Luis Obispo County students closer to nature while providing fun and adventure. When students participate in outdoor education, their understanding of the environment and human communities grow. Stronger environmental attitudes, civic responsibility, and community participation strengthen through outdoor education. These types of schools are one tool in building a solid foundation of stewardship with the next generation.

Outdoor education can connect families and the greater community with our schools. Many times when classrooms are outdoors an entry point for involvement in education is presented. The first time my father became more involved with my schooling was in the late 1960s on an outdoor education field trip. I have many people throughout the county stop me to relay stories about chaperoning for a field trip. Some of the stories have included recollections about sleeping at Rancho El Chorro as a youth. I commend our local, state, and national Rotary Clubs for their dedication