Catalina’s close proximity to one of the country’s largest Metropolitan areas has presented many conservation challenges. However, with the Wrigley families foresight in establishing the countries oldest and largest private land trust which encompasses over 85% of the island, and with the institution of the Catalina Island Conservancy in 1972, Catalina has become a microcosm of scientific study of the impact of humans and invasive species on the ecology of a offshore desert island. The programs listed below allow students to experience firsthand some of Catalina’s ecological treasures and to discuss the ancient and modern human impacts on this fragile ecosystem.

Terrestrial Ecology Lab

Similar to Darwin’s discoveries on the Galapagos, Catalina Island has a variety of unique and endemic species due to its isolated location 25 miles from mainland California. In this laboratory, the students are exposed to many of Catalina’s flora and fauna. Through a series of learning stations, the students will see or handle Native American artifacts, live snakes, various minerals, skulls, bones, skins, and rocks. The laboratory has several terrariums with live reptiles (gopher and king snakes, amphibians, and lizards). In addition, there are mounted goats, deer, pigs, bison, and various birds. This is a great introduction to island ecology.

  • 4th Grade: 2a,b,3a-c,4a,5a,c
  • 5th Grade: 6a
  • 6th Grade: 1a-f,2a-d,5a
  • 7th Grade: 4a-f


There are several trails within our canyons that are perfect for all ages and skill levels. Students will see, touch, smell, and possibly taste a variety of plants on the island. Typical hikes cover edible and useful plants, streambed ecology, feral animals, and scatology. Students will explore methods of colonization by plants and animals, discuss the reasons islands are unique, and learn about the Native American history here on Santa Catalina. This is always a great learning experience!

  • 4th Grade: 2a,b,3a-c,4a,5a,c
  • 5th Grade: 2e-g,6a
  • 6th Grade: 1a-f,2a-d,5a
  • 7th Grade: 4a-f

Full Day Hike (Five day groups only)

Five day groups have a chance for a longer instructor-guided hike. During the day-long excursion, the group will hike to a local lake where they will be able to explore and take in great views of the camp and Catalina Island. They will eat a picnic lunch before returning to Toyon Bay.

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