Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center’s Jawbone Flats campus serves as a multi-purpose learning venue for diverse groups of children and adults. Throughout our season (mid-April through mid-November), education groups can book overnight programs of varying lengths. We work with the teacher or group leader to customize each program to best suit the educational focus of the group. In general our programs focus on Ancient Forest Ecology, Watersheds, Water Quality, Northwest Geology, Wildlife Ecology, and Sustainability.
Our onsite Science Instructors are all college graduates with degrees in one of the natural sciences or education fields. Many are certified Wilderness First Responders and undergo extensive training in outdoor teaching methods and safety procedures. Opal Creek attracts great people, and we are fortunate to have such a professional teaching staff assembled.
A typical group stay at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center begins with an interpretive hike along the Opal Creek trail, serving as an introduction to the ancient forest. Our Science Instructors lead participants on a three-mile journey to Jawbone Flats, telling the story of the natural and cultural history and introducing students to some of the forest’s inhabitants through hands-on activities.
Upon arriving in Jawbone Flats, group participants are given an orientation of the site and a tour of town. They then check in to their accommodations. Depending on arrival time, there is often time for another focused activity before dinner. Three hearty, healthy vegetarian meals are prepared by our full-time cooking staff with each overnight stay. After dinner, the evening continues with various educational programs chosen by the group leader ahead of time.
Our solar powered education building, “the commissary,” provides an excellent lab for students to take their field investigations to the next level. After learning about the larger forces at work in the forest, soil samples under the microscope provide a glimpse of the many other unseen forces at work.
We are aware that many schools struggle to provide onsite environmental educational opportunities for their students. To this end, we work hard to keep our costs low and subsidize all school programming through grants. This reduces the cost to schools by about 50%. Our current fees for educational programming are $55 per participant per night for grades K-12, and $60 per participant per night for college and university groups. These fees cover all instruction, meals, gear shuttles and lodging. If you are interested in booking a program, please contact Gabby at (503) 892-2782. Please be aware that upon booking a field trip to Opal Creek, you are agreeing to our reservation policies, available here.