Sixth Grade Camp


Ask local sixth graders to name a favorite school year activity, and many will, without hesitation, mention “sixth grade camp.”  Within the Santa Barbara community, the popular outdoor education programs have become an eagerly anticipated highlight of the elementary school experience, and since 1989, high school students from Anacapa School have played an important role in giving sixth graders a positive camp experience.

This year, Anacapa served three schools:  Peabody Charter School (October 19-22), Montecito Union School (April 5-8), and Washington/Adams Schools (May 3-6).  Managing this unique program requires a number of key steps, all of which contribute to a successful camp experience for everyone—the sixth grade students and their teachers, the camp staff, and the Anacapa Cabin Leaders themselves.

Required:  Leadership and Academic Excellence

The Anacapa Cabin Leader program is well-tuned. Students are selected based on their leadership skills and academic achievements.  Each Cabin Leader is in charge of his or her own cabin of sixth graders, day and night throughout the four days, a job that requires that they be comfortable in a leadership role.  Cabin Leaders also assist camp naturalists with different activities and hikes.  Because Cabin Leaders miss four days of regular classes at Anacapa, they also have to be strong students in order to make up their work when they return from camp.

Preparing to Take Charge

Students are first selected by the Headmaster and Faculty for each of the schools. The students and their parents are then consulted to make sure the students can commit to the week. Just before going, the director of the camp has an introductory meeting on the Anacapa campus to meet the Cabin Leaders and review expectations. After that meeting, another meeting is scheduled with the sixth grade teachers coming to Anacapa after school to meet with the students. On the day before leaving for camp, the Anacapa Headmaster goes over last-minute details with the students.  He also makes a visit to camp during the week to see how things are going.

Celebrating With Camp Stories and Ice Cream

When the students return to Anacapa on Friday afternoon, the entire school turns out to welcome them back and to hear from each one about their experiences.  Cabin Leaders take center stage at an all-school get-together, where they are asked to recount what was positive and negative about their week, as well as something important that they learned. The younger Anacapa students pay close attention to these testimonials and begin to envision being a Cabin Leader themselves someday. After this all-school meeting, the Anacapa Senate hosts a traditional “ice cream social” with Cabin Leaders going first in line.

Happy Reunions With the Sixth Graders

For the final touch, each elementary school hosts a special luncheon on their campus to honor the Anacapa Cabin Leaders. The sixth graders are always thrilled to see their Cabin Leaders again, and the feeling is mutual.  Excitement, laughter, and memories abound at these reunions!

This year, we innovated yet another way to serve our schools. One day a week, Anacapa tutors travel to the elementary school campuses for their after-school homework clubs to help the younger students in math. Students and teachers greatly appreciate their academic assistance.

Special Thanks to This Year’s Cabin Leaders:

Julio Bernal (Brown Bear), Henry Johnston (Kodiak), Esai Macario (Penguin), Isaac Macario (Ram), Brenda Gutierrez (Firefly), Maria Petraitis (Kiwi), Corrina Roberts (Cricket), Haley Yuhasz (Sunny), Grayson Baggiolini (Rooster), Chris Eckert (Eagle), Connor Proctor (Cactus), Caitlin Mackie-Burke (Liger), Ila Rutten (Acorn), Libby Tuomi (Tulip), Patrick Alcerro (Weta), Mateus Elomaa (Polar Bear), Ryan Reish (Rhino), Sophie Crane (Willow), Genn Hatfield (Wallaby), Emily Johnson (Clover), Brenda Renteria (Bumble Bee), and Kiara Trujillo (Honey). Job well done!


In Their Own Words

Testimonials from Sixth Grade Teachers

“Anacapa School sends us a number of their students to fill the role of cabin leaders when the Montecito Union 6th grade classes attend our week-long environmental education camp in the Santa Ynez Mountains. We have enjoyed this relationship for over 20 years now. So what makes this
partnership so successful? Well, it comes down to the fact that Anacapa students are so capable and kind. They take their job seriously while connecting well with our 6th graders. As cabin leaders, they work as hard as anyone in the program. Their day begins early in the morning in a cabin of 6th grade boys or girls. Following wake-up and cabin duties, they escort their group to the dining hall for breakfast. Then, it’s off to activities where each high schooler has been assigned to a “trail group” with a naturalist whom they assist throughout the week. The busy day continues, with only one short break, until “lights out” around 10:00 PM. It’s exhausting, but you wouldn’t know it by the nearly ever-present smiles on the faces of the cabin leaders. Something that we have always appreciated is that the Anacapa kids are willing to take on nearly any task; they also develop strong bonds with our students while maintaining a balance between being a friend and an authority figure. By the time the week ends, our 6th graders feel sad to say goodbye, but are so grateful for the connection they have made with these wonderful high school students. Over the years, the Anacapa students have truly touched the hearts of many Montecito Union kids, and for that, we are so very grateful!”

– Carter Morgan, 6th grade teacher, Montecito Union School

“Anacapa students who volunteer to be cabin leaders for Peabody’s science camp make a huge impact on our students.  Anacapa students provide emotional support to the sixth graders when they are far away from home, creating a positive environment and actively building a sense of community within the cabins. Anacapa students have enthusiasm and energy that is contagious.   They are active participants in all activities, providing Peabody sixth graders with positive role models.   We truly value the tremendous impact Anacapa students make on our sixth graders’ experience at science camp.”

-Lauren Rodriguez, 6th grade teacher, Peabody Charter School

“Anacapa students make personal connections with the students they mentor.  The impact of these connections remains one of the fondest memories of our sixth graders, even months after the camp experience has ended.  The quality of the Anacapa students’ academic knowledge and the degree of their social responsibility is exceptional, and we look forward to working with them in years to come.”

– Christy Earls Shaefer, 6th grade teacher, Peabody Charter School

“The cabin leaders from Anacapa are the key to making our experience at Outdoor Camp the best it can be.  The Cabin leaders set the positive tone.  The students from Anacapa carry themselves with confidence and take on their responsibilities with an enthusiasm that carries on to the sixth graders they camp with.  They make a strong, positive impression on our students and forge a bond that our students will remember for years to come.  We are incredibly grateful to Anacapa School for allowing their students to join us in our Outdoor Camp experience and we greatly appreciate the cabin leaders as the best example of good role models for our students to aspire to be.”

– Bridget Gankas, 6th grade teacher, Washington School

“We were so very impressed with the group of Cabin Leaders this year. The Cabin Leaders were respectful, fun, and most importantly, kind to our students. The Cabin Leaders showed concern and caring for our students during the day, but were most impressive at night when the students began to get homesick. They provided them with a safe, positive environment away from their home and family. They were great role models, showing our students what their future can bring. The Cabin Leaders quickly became family to our students. Many of our 6th grade students bonded with their leaders and would like to keep in touch. We appreciated all their kind words and efforts to comfort the students. We, as teachers, enjoyed watching the Cabin Leaders’ excitement about the outdoors, and this enthusiasm was transferred to our 6th grade students.  This group of Cabin Leaders made a lasting impression on our students. We hope to see them again next year.”

– Cathy Borden, 6th grade teacher, Adams School

Testimonials from Sixth Grade Students

“Oh my gosh! We were all honored to have you guys as our cabin leaders. I had so much fun! I couldn’t have asked for better cabin leaders. I was so glad to see you guys at our lunch celebration, and I hope to see you around town or tutoring me in math. Love Ya!”

– MUS student

“Thank you so much for being our cabin leader. I had a great time at Outdoor School with you. I’m glad we all finally got to sleep the last night. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us!”

–  Washington School student

“You were awesome, and I can’t wait until I get to see you at the picnic. I really enjoyed all the laughs we shared and finally getting to bed on time.”

–  Washington School student

“You and all the other cabin leaders really encouraged me on wanting to be a cabin leader in high school.”

– Adams School student

“I would like to thank you for being our cabin leader.  I know it was hard with 13 energetic 12-year-old girls running around!”

– Adams School student

“One day I want to be a cabin leader like you!”

– Adams School student

Testimonials from Anacapa Cabin Leaders

“Even though watching a bunch of sixth graders might sound terrifying, it’s opened my eyes to think about a career in teaching.  I highly recommend this opportunity to everyone.”

– Emily Johnson, 11th grader at Anacapa

“Attending sixth grade camp as a Cabin Leader is a learning experience for both the children and the leaders.  It is a great way to introduce high school students to careers that involve working with children.  As a Cabin Leader, I can honestly say that sixth grade camp has broadened my post-high school ideas.  I would like to go into teaching someday.”

– Chris Eckert, 10th grader at Anacapa