*Note that these answers may vary by region and season – please direct questions to regional program directors where your child(ren) will be joining Biocitizen programs!
Biocitizen’s programs are sometimes structured around our local weather conditions and this sometimes requires some flexibility with our outdoor classrooms.
All registration forms, medical history, up-to-date immunization forms are required before your child attends a Biocitizen class or camp..
Lunch and Snacks
Campers bring their own lunch (pack for a regular school day) and must be ready-made. We do don’t carry any cooking or food prep equipment.
We do request that parents please refrain from sending any peanut products in order to limit possible exposure for campers with peanut/nut allergies.
We often carry extra water, but each child should have their own supply of water for the day.
Clothing, Shoes and Hats
The campers learn environmental philosophy by visiting sites that are brimming with natural and/or culture history. Programs are always designed to be a fun exploration, so comfortable clothing is best. For cooler weather or hikes in our canyons, plan on layers so that your child stays warm but can also cool off throughout the day.
Comfortable gym or tennis shoes are best for our program, whether an urban excursion or a canyon hike. We do visit places with streams, as well as our beaches and tide pools. Water shoes are great for these days; or your child can bring a second pair of shoes and socks to change into after splashing in the water.
Hats are always helpful for sunny California days.
Please send your child with sunscreen already applied, as well as additional sunscreen for reapplication. Label your child’s sunscreen with their name.
Sometimes our group will stop for ice cream or some other kind of treat at a local, neighborhood shop. We encourage you to limit your child to $5 for a treat.
Some days are very active and immersive; and keep in mind that your child will be carrying their own backpack and lunch. Some campers bring small sketchbooks or notebooks and pens/pencils, binoculars and other tools to observe and record their surroundings and discoveries.
Medication – Illness and Allergies
Please see the Biocitizen Policies and Procedures document regarding Medication.
Biocitizen programs do not require your child to bring extra money.
Sometimes the group will stop for ice cream or some other kind of treat at a local, neighborhood shop.
We encourage you to limit your child to $5 for a treat.
Biocitizen may offer students swimming in the context of natural and cultural history investigations, or for cooling off during a warm hike, accessing information or experiencing an educational subject.
Biocitizen does not provide swimming instruction; it is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to ensure their child can swim. It is also the responsibility of the parent/guardian to inform the Biocitizen Director and/or instructors that their child is unable to swim.
Students are not compelled to swim; it is entirely their option, providing they already know how to swim or whether their parents/guardians prefer them to or not to. Non-swimming students will always be provided with other explorations and interesting activities while their peers swim.
Should the need arise for life-jackets, Biocitizen LA will provide them, unless we are partnering with a third party company (for instance, a kayaking program), in which case, that company will provide life-jackets.
Biocitizen does not offer make-up classes, rescheduling, refunds or credit due to absences.
Please refer to your local school’s FAQ page for their cancellation policy.
Not as a standard practice, but can be arranged if necessary. Please inquire.
The word “biocitizen” is a contraction of “biotic citizen,” a term Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) used in A Sand County Almanac. One of our nation’s first wildlife managers, Leopold co-founded the Wilderness Society and is widely celebrated for conceiving the “land ethic“:
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
Leopold reached this conclusion while serving as the Forest Supervisor of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico. Following the standard game management practices of the early 20th century, he exterminated wolves to increase the deer population for hunters. Without predators, the deer population skyrocketed—and crashed due to overgrazing and desertification. Leopold was shocked to see what he had done. When the thunderstorms came, he watched fertile topsoils wash down from the mountains into the rivers, there being no living plants to stop the erosion. Knowing the management strategies he learned at Yale had failed, a chastened Leopold looked upon the wolf with profound respect, appreciative of its key role in sustaining the “biotic community” he was paid to care for. The wolf, he realized, was a better wildlife manager than he was!
This discovery (made outside, not inside) led him thereafter to question untested assumptions about how humanity fits into the designs of nature. He used what he learned to help his culture to discover and value biodiversity, and the larger family of life on earth that we belong to.
Leopold distinguished between two ways Americans relate to nature, one typical of pioneer culture and one newly emerging that is dedicated to inhabiting land sustainably. We “see repeated the same basic paradoxes: man the conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; science the sharpener of his sword versus science the searchlight on his universe; land the slave and the servant versus land the collective organism.”
His biotic citizen is our biocitizen, a person who enacts the land ethic in everyday life, behaving as a “plain member and citizen” of a biotic community that “include[s] soils, waters, plants, animals, or collectively: the land.”
Drawing upon Leopold’s legacy of ideas and intentions, which in turn are rooted deeply in Western philosophy, Biocitizen provides students a hands-on introduction to the “ecological interpretation of history” at sites where they can perceive themselves and the land as a “collective organism.”