Full Day Youth Program

A Full Day Youth Program consists of 5 modules: Solar Power, Organic Gardening, Alternative Fuels, Conservation, and Recycling–each approximately 1 hour in length. Below is a detailed schedule of a full day program.

9:00-9:30 Welcome to Mother Lode River Center

  1. Introductions of Staff
  2. Safety Guidelines and Rules, Camp Orientation
  3. Ice breaker games with the introduction of sustainability themes (True Health, Stewardship, Energy and Resources, etc)

9:30-10:30 Solar Power Modules

  1. Wilderness Survival Solar Challenge: Participants are given a scenario in which they must assemble a portable solar array to recharge a dead cell phone battery in order to make an emergency phone call. In the process they will learn the basics of how photovoltaic panels produce electricity and how the electricity is transferred for use.
  2. Power Outage: This energizing group game demonstrates the finite nature of non-renewable resources and the competition that inevitably results as they dwindle. Our facilitators will then lead a debrief discussing the aspects of renewable and non-renewable resources.
  3. Tour of the Solar Energy Exploratorium: Participants will explore the Energy Time Line, where they’ll learn about the carbon cycle, peak oil, affluenza, and solar bio-mimicry. They’ll also check out our thermal solar hot water heater, becoming informed of its superior efficiencies in space and cost. And last but not least, the solar oven will be explained and used to prepare dessert.

10:30-11:30 Organic Gardening Module

  1. From Greenhorn to Green-thumb: Participants will work, experiencing gardening activities (season depending) such as soil preparation, planting seeds or transplanting starts into our solar-heated planter bed, weeding, mulching, pruning, harvesting crops, and composting.
  2. Following will be a science based activity related to the garden task they perform; e.g. dissecting seeds and learning their parts and purposes, soil testing, etc.
  3. Students will learn and discuss aspects of organic gardening, from its practicality to its impact on the environment compared to conventional large scale farming.
  4. Before leaving the garden, participants will get to help water and be watered themselves (temperature permitting) with the plants before heading off to lunch to eat the fruits of their labor.

11:30-12:30 Lunch

12:30-1:30 Alternative Fuels Module

  1. Next is a tour of our waste vegetable oil refinery…our old fossil fuel powered bus, affectionately referred to as “The Mother-Dome,” where students will learn the process and basic chemistry and physics involved in turning waste oil into fuel..
  2. After learning about the process of converting what was once considered waste into usable fuel, participants will have the opportunity to try this first hand! The fuel they produce will be used to shuttle them down to the trailhead of their conservation hike.

1:30-2:30 Conservation Hike Module

  1. During an afternoon hike through the beautiful rolling hills along the South Fork of the American River and lush riparian habitat of Hastings Creek, students will learn the importance of biodiversity and the difference between macro and micro ecosystem.
  2. A discussion will follow debating human impact and what we can do to help sustain these systems.

2:30-3:15 Recycling and Reuse Module

  1. Creativity is Key: In our Recycling and Reuse challenge, participants will work in small groups to try to find useful ways to recycle and reuse everything they might have thrown away throughout the day. From cover-ups for seedlings to our scarecrow building contest, students’ ingenuity will be put to the test.
  2. Facilitators will also lead a discussion on recycling, where students will learn about different methods, logistics, and impacts of recycling programs.

3:15-3:45 Sustainable Practices Jeopardy!

This wrap up trivia game will involve the whole group as teams compete for the secret grand prize.

3:45-4:00 Final Debrief and Advocacy Challenge.

Our facilitators will lead a deeper, final discussion of the day’s events, processing the problems raised, solutions offered, and questions still left to ponder. Participants will have an opportunity to make a difference through our powerful letter writing campaign, an honored and successful Mother Lode River Center tradition. A new aspect of this program allows students to track the results of their individual efforts through our newsletter updates.

Half Day Youth Program

A Half Day Youth Program consists of 2 modules of your choosing, plus the warm up games at the beginning and the Final Debrief and Advocacy Challenge at the end of the day.

For Multi-Day Trips

The Solar Energy Exploratorium will be open before and after regularly programming, so students and teachers may check out the many books in its library, watch a video, or use the space for their own class exercises.