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 Sharing the 6th Grade Camp Story

It's been a whirlwind year at Cuyamaca Outdoor School since the launch last March of Campiversary, the yearlong celebration of the 70th anniversary of 6th Grade Camp.

San Diego County Office of Education teams from the Outdoor Education and Communications departments worked together to share the 6th Grade Camp story, resulting in numerous media mentions, the launch of a camp newsletter, record-breaking attendance at the open house, and a renewed sense of purpose. Perhaps most importantly, thousands more San Diego County children were connected to science and nature.

"Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Cuyamaca Outdoor School has been an awesome experience," Principal Greg Schuett said. "Music Watson, Michelle Breier, and the rest of the Communications team have done an amazing job of helping the outdoor school staff get the word out via newsletters, media events, newspaper articles, and TV highlights, that more than 1 million children from San Diego have attended 6th Grade Camp and that we are still going strong, serving more than 11,000 students annually."

The San Diego Union-Tribune highlighted 6th Grade Camp with a front-page article and bonus online features such as a video and photo gallery. KPBS reporter Megan Burks started a conversation about camp on Twitter that led to a lively feature that also wins headline of the year honors: "70 years of Awkward Showers and Fun Hikes." Camp also was featured in San Diego Family Magazine and on esteemed education news website EdSource. Lively TV news spots aired on CBS News 8 and KUSI.

Cuyamaca Outdoor School celebrated one of its award- winning teachers, Doug Connor, who was named a 2017 County Teacher of the Year finalist in September.

Camp teachers and specialists made sure students attending camp over Halloween didn't miss out on candy and trick-or-treating. And in January, when storms brought snow to the local mountains, the team ensured a winter wonderland of fun for the 400 Poway Unified students visiting at the time. San Diego kids in the snow was a big draw for TV news — three local stations made the trek to capture the magic, including CBS News 8.

The celebration may be winding down, but the work is far from over. The Cuyamaca Outdoor School team kicked off 2017 with a two-day retreat to launch a five-year strategic plan that will be a guide to accomplish even more in the areas of marketing, enrolling students, program enhancements, staffing, and funding, Schuett said.

"Our goal is to serve all students in the county and connect them to science through nature with this once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said.

Cuyamaca is unlike any other outdoor school, and the team aims to capitalize on that, said Bob Mueller, interim senior director of Outdoor Education and Student Support Services.

"We are the largest and the longest continually operating outdoor school in California, and San Diego County's original 6th Grade Camp," Mueller said. "We are determined to make the best even better, and make sure every school knows about us and wants to send their students to our 6th Grade Camp."