FAQ

What is the food like?

We serve three nutritious kid-friendly meals a day. Our dinner menu features pizza, spaghetti, burgers, and a make-your-own burrito bar. Breakfasts include homemade biscuits, pancakes, eggs, and cereal. Lunches consist of sandwiches, fruit, and carrots. There are always vegetarian options available and our staff has a ready supply of trail mix, fruit, carrots, and pretzels for snacks throughout the day. Our incredible chefs are committed to accommodating allergies and special dietary needs as well as baking fresh bread and cookies.

What are the sleeping arrangements?
We house 5-10 kids in each single-gender cabin. We also offer a gender neutral cabin when requested. You can note your preference when registering your child for the Outdoor Project. We intentionally mix children from different schools but do our best to ensure that each cabin has at least two students from the same school community. All cabins have full electricity and feature bunk-beds.
What type of medical support do you have?
We have local doctors on call for us 24 hours a day. The Mosaic Project has staff who are trained in First Aid and CPR. Some hold advanced certifications such as Wilderness First Responder.
How far away is the nearest hospital?
The nearest hospital is in Santa Cruz which is 20 minutes away from our Outdoor Project site.
Is there a certified lifeguard at the swimming pool?
Yes, The Mosaic Project currently has four certified lifeguards on our year-round team who attend the Outdoor Project. In addition, we offer seasonal Outdoor Project Facilitators and senior Youth Leaders the opportunity to attend lifeguard training to get certified and help during the season. All staff that are present while students are swimming are instructed to be attentive and serve as “watchers” as children swim.
How are children supervised? What is the adult/student ratio?
The students’ physical and emotional safety and well-being are our primary concerns. Students are supervised 24 hours a day. Cabin Leaders sleep in the cabins every night. Our staff to student ratio is approximately 1 to 6.
Who are your staff? How are your staff screened?
Staff Facilitators: We pride ourselves on the diversity of our staff. Our staff facilitators are generally between 24 and 50 years old. They have extensive experience working with children in outdoor settings as well as in diversity and conflict resolution training. We provide an intensive week-long staff training and are constantly engaged in professional development. All staff members have undergone a rigorous screening process/background check that includes finger printing, consultation with at least three professional references, and a three-hour interview with the Executive Director.

Youth Leaders: Our Youth Leaders are between the ages of 15 and 23 and hail from more than a dozen Bay Area high schools and colleges. They undergo their own intensive, weekend-long (2-day, 2-night), leadership training that takes place in Napa at the Outdoor School site. The competitive application process includes essays, references and a personal interview with our Youth Leadership Project Director.

Can my child call home during the program?

Except under the most unusual circumstances, we do not permit calls home. Please do NOT send a cell phone or smart watch with your child. This is purely for the children’s wellbeing. Over 20 years of experience working with children who are away from home for the very first time has shown us that calls home increase homesickness. We are not alone in this – many camps and outdoor schools discourage calls home for the same reason.

The way Mosaic breaks down homesickness is that it’s like having one foot in the program and one foot back at home. We support the students in bringing both feet to the program and being fully present. A call home delays the student’s adjustment and may very well bring both feet back home. Additionally, when one student talks to their family and the word spreads that they have done so, homesickness can spread throughout the entire community. Homesickness is contagious!  Of course, it also isn’t logistically possible for all 90 students to call home each evening, and equity is central to Mosaic’s mission.

We do find messages of encouragement from parents to be helpful, and teachers are happy to share messages to/from your child each night if you like.  We also provide  tools for you to help prepare your child and yourselves prior to the experience. Please see https://mosaicproject.org/wp-content/uploads/minimizing-homesickness.pdf.

If you do choose to send your children, it is important that they come with the intention and a plan to complete the program. We have found that when students come knowing that their parents will pick them up at any time if they get homesick, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The students tend to focus on whether or not they should go home and are unable to be fully present and give the program a chance. That anxiety often spreads to the other students. When students go home early, it is hard on them as well as on the students around them. We want to set your child, as well as all the children, up for success.

What educational activities will my child do?
You can read all about our curriculum here. We are constantly refining our activities, and every educator with whom we have worked has contributed to its evolution since we held our first focus groups in 2001. In addition to our Teachers Wisdom Council, we are advised by psychologists on our Board of Directors and Advisory Board who observe our programs.
How do you deal with homesickness?
Missing home, family, and even pets, is natural for children, especially when it is their first time away from home. Most students experience a short adjustment period to the Outdoor Project. Soon, they get caught up in the excitement of new friends, activities, and adventures. Our staff are experts in supporting students as they adjust to life at The Mosaic Project. Often the secret ingredient in helping students to overcome a bout of homesickness is preparation by their parents. Check out the minimizing homesickness tips.
How do you deal with discipline issues?
Positive discipline is intrinsic to our philosophy. If we are unable to support a child in having a successful experience at The Mosaic Project, we will notify the parents or guardian and may require that the child is picked up from the Outdoor Project. That said, in over a decade of serving thousands of children, we have very rarely had to send students home. Oftentimes, children who may struggle at home or in school excel at The Mosaic Project.
What should my child bring (and NOT bring) to The Mosaic Project?
We always hope to have warm weather in Felton, however the weather can be quite variable. Evenings may be very cool. Students should be prepared for everything, including rain! Clothing that is comfortable and functional is important. Please follow our packing list closely. Children will carry their own luggage; please pack everything in only ONE suitcase or duffel bag (sleeping bag can be carried separately). Most importantly, be sure to LABEL EVERYTHING including disposable cameras. See our detailed list of what to bring.
Why are you requiring vaccinations against COVID-19?
As you can imagine, this is a very challenging and complicated situation we find ourselves in. There is no easy solution. Over the past 2½ years of the pandemic, 2,500 children have had to miss out on the Mosaic Outdoor Project experience. We are trying to make sure that as many students as possible can safely have this experience moving forward.

Our Board of Directors had extensive conversations before coming to the decision to require vaccinations. Here are the main points which influenced the decision:

  • The large majority of our partner schools are supportive of the vaccination requirement. The majority of their students are vaccinated and they have reported that they have many families who will not send their children to Mosaic without the vaccination requirement. Some schools would not send any of their students without it. Either way, unfortunately some students will not be able to attend our program. Through the family/school surveys, it became clear that more students would be able to attend if we required vaccinations.
  • After consulting with medical professionals, we decided that the vaccination requirement was best for the safety of our students and their adult caretakers for these reasons:
    • Since the core of our program is mixing students from different schools in their learning groups, including in the cabins where they sleep, having unvaccinated students is especially risky. We are concerned not only about spreading the virus to children from different schools, but also about the children bringing it home and infecting their adult caretakers. Even with daily testing, by the time a student tested positive they could very well have already spent a night (or several nights) in the cabin exposing other kids from their own and other schools. These students may then take COVID-19 home to expose their caretakers and other family members. Many of our students live in multi-generational homes with elderly family members that are especially vulnerable.
    • On this CDC webpage https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/why-vaccinate-children-teens.html about why children should get vaccinated, you will find information about multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children which disproportionally affects [email protected] and Black children. Vaccinations reduce the likelihood of MIS-C by 91% in children ages 12-18 and studies are showing similar results in children under 12 as well. Yes, we know vaccinated people can still get COVID-19 – AND the evidence continues to show that vaccines prevent serious illness in both adults and children. Even students who have received one vaccination within the month who have not yet had their second are provided some protection.

The Board’s decision comes down to making the choice to provide this experience to as many children as possible in the safest way possible. Thank you so much for your understanding during these challenging times.