Outdoor Education


In 2009, due to a very challenging budget situation, the Olympia School Board cut the outdoor overnight 5th grade program called, “Cispus.” The program had been in existence since the 1970’s and is beloved in our community.

It provides hands on learning, team building, outdoor skills, and so much more in a natural environment in Randall, WA. A group of parents through grassroots efforts, were able to raise $59,000 in three months to save the program. When that group of parents reached out to the OSDEF, several leaders in the group were invited to join the Board in order to save the program for perpetuity. As a result, Cispus is a three-legged stool funded through OSDEF-run wreath sells, district allocated funding, and a fee paid for by each family for each child. The fee is waived, with no questions asked, when requested by a family. 


“As I was driving the long, winding road back from Cispus Outdoor Camp tonight, I realized how grateful I am that people enact their passions in life at different times. A few years ago, I was sitting at the school board meeting when Cispus was on the chopping block and I didn’t get it. I really didn’t. There were SO many other things to fund, I thought. At that time, it just wasn’t a passion for me.

Well, after spending a day there with our amazing Boston Harbor 5th graders and their amazing teachers and a myriad of other wonderful teachers and students from three other elementary schools, I get it. I really get it. And I am so grateful for parents and teachers for whom it WAS passion and who advocated for this gem. I sincerely hope that someday the passions I advocate for will pay dividends for you as well.”

– Jennifer West Brotherton
Boston Harbor Principal