School Programs: Fall 2017

Westminster Woods School Programs “fosters the development of character, community, and science literacy in students through experiential outdoor education.” During the fall of 2017, School Programs provided programming to nearly 2,500 students from 50 different schools! From the first week of September through the middle of December, students came to The Woods to participate in forest ecology hikes, watershed ecology studies, and challenge course experiences. Whether they were studying macroinvertebrates in our brand new microscope lab, working together to solve team challenges, or singing songs around the campfire, students were able to connect with their classmates and learn about their natural environment in an exciting camp setting. Check out the School Programs infographic below for more data on the reach and impact from fall 2017!

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Westminster Woods has a New Logo!

Dear Friends of The Woods,

Westminster Woods has been serving the community for over 70 years and a lot has changed and evolved during that time. As we grow, it is important that our logo continues to represent our ever-adapting organization. You may have already noticed our new website and social media presence, and we are thrilled to debut our new logo as another unifying visual representation of The Woods.


The administrative staff and board members discussed the values of Westminster Woods - from their perspective and their campers' - and developed elements that would best represent those values in a logo. The elements you may notice include:

  • Three trees: In likeness to the stunning forest that spans our 200 acre campus, and to represent the Holy Trinity, three redwoods were incorporated.
  • Circle: To represent both the everlasting love of God and our commitment to serving our community, the trees were wrapped in a circle.

After weeks of collaborative design, line tweaking, and font choosing, we finished our new logo! I want to extend a special thanks to Katie O'Brien, our new Communications Coordinator for her leadership during the process, and Jonny Angulo, one of our new Teacher Naturalists for his computer design skills. 


You will see our new logo in various places including our website, social media channels, and the summer camp brochure (hitting doorsteps any day!). Stay tuned for future communication and camp store merchandise with the new design. 

In Faith,

Chris Rhodes, Executive Director

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Ping Microscope Lab

School groups come to Westminster Woods to engage in hands-on, experiential education in our 200 acre outdoor classroom . While here, our professional Teacher Naturalists design lessons to inspire curiosity, student collaboration and investigation. Students engage in redwood ecology hikes, challenge course adventures, and stream studies in Dutch Bill Creek. To further enhance this exceptional experience, we have added a new microscope lab! This lab allows students to explore the world around them on a new level: the microscopic level!

Students might collect benthic macro invertebrates in the creek and then use the microscopes to observe the structure and function of a dragonfly nymph. Students may conduct a lichen investigation and then use the microscopes to compare the structure within different lichens. Students might use the microscopes to make observations of patterns within redwood cones and then utilize their journals to make detailed scientific drawings. Students may investigate decomposition within soil and discuss their findings with peers.  

The microscope lab was built to support our teaching of Next Generation Science Standards and has already been a hit with students!  Students have been able to discover a whole other world within natural objects they observed while hiking and exploring throughout Westminster Woods. Their curiosity and enjoyment can be witnessed as students interact with the microscopes. Exclamations of “I’m a scientist!” and “this is so cool, can we come back again, later?” can be heard as students react with wonder and awe of their new discoveries. 

We are grateful to the generosity of the Margaret V. Ping Foundation and excited to use our microscopes as tools to bring science and learning alive.  


Giving Back

November 2017

Dear Friends of The Woods,
Sonoma County and other areas of the North Bay are just starting to recover from last month’s devastating wildfires, which will have wide, long-lasting effects. We are extremely grateful that Westminster Woods was spared from any fire damage and all of our staff members are safe.  
This crisis has impacted so many in our area, and we have been reminded of the role we can fill in helping people deal with loss. In response to the fires, we opened our beautiful campus to members of the affected community for Free Open Space Play Days while the fires were still active. Several hundred liberated kids and their grateful parents came to play outside and enjoy a respite from the toxic air closer to the fires.   
Our School Programs department proudly serves over 15 schools from the Santa Rosa area, but many of those have had to cancel their annual outdoor education trips due to the fires. As a result, we are now offering any available space to other schools in the areas affected by the fires as a place to gather and spend time in nature. We are blessed to be able to support our community during this unprecedented, challenging time.
We know that many of you have already made significant contributions toward helping those in need during this time. While The Woods has lost significant income as a result of the fires, we are confident that, with the support of our community, we will finish the year strong and have our best year yet in 2018. Please consider making a donation to help us continue to provide a sanctuary for transformative experiences to our guests.  
If you would like to make an online donation, visit our Give Back page. If you prefer to send a donation by check, our address is:

Westminster Woods
6510 Bohemian Hwy.
Occidental, CA 95465

Thank you for your support of The Woods. 
In Faith,

Chris Rhodes, Executive Director

Post-Fire Community Gathering Space

Post-Fire Community Gathering Space
Monday – Thursday
10:00 – 4:00
October 25 – December 14

Westminster Woods
6510 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, California 95465 
707-874-2426 x623

School communities that were affected by 2017 wildfires are invited to come together at Westminster Woods.

We welcome groups of up to 120 people to meet on our beautiful campus in Occidental. Your space will include one indoor meeting room as well as access to our outdoor playground, grass field, and redwood picnic grove. We are excited to share our space with as many schools as possible, but unfortunately reservations will be subject to availability.

Teachers can inquire by emailing the following information to Paige (

  • Coordinating teacher name and email
  • School name
  • Expected number of participants
  • Desired date range (if any)

Please note that this offer is available 10:00 – 4:00, Monday – Thursday through December 14, 2017. Groups must bring their own food (as needed), and are asked to help clean up their area before departure.

Westminster Woods Camp and Conference Center is nestled amid a forest of coastal redwoods and offers year-round opportunities for connection, reflection, discovery, and growth. Learn more at

Westminster Woods Open Space Play Days

Westminster Woods Open Space Play Days
Friday 10/13 – Friday 10/20
9 am – 4 pm

Westminster Woods is offering free Open Space Play Days through Friday 10/20.  Though we are typically closed to the public, in response to the wildfires, we welcome our community to come to play and rest on our beautiful campus in the redwoods. 

We are located at 6510 Bohemian Hwy, between Occidental and Monte Rio – see our driving directions on our website. When you arrive, proceed across the bridge and follow signs to parking. Please check in at the Main Office; all guests will be required to sign a liability waiver upon arrival. RSVPs are not needed.

Dogs on leashes are welcome. Please feel free to bring your own picnic or snacks (there are several food options in Occidental). Please check the air quality forecast and make the best decision for your family based on the current conditions. 

Learn more about Westminster Woods at

Driving directions:

Westminster Woods
6510 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, California 95465