FAQ for Parents
Where are you located?
The Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) is located at 41569 Bear Creek Rd. in Springville. SCICON is operated by the Tulare County Office of Education and located on 1,100 acres.

Why should I send my student to SCICON?
Outdoor schools are an important aspect to the development and growth of your students. Everything the students have learned in the classroom and textbooks are directly observed. Through activities and games, students experience these concepts firsthand, creating lasting memories that enrich their education tenfold. When you send your child to an outdoor school, they will return a new person with more confidence and independence. Getting a chance to try new things, spend quality time with their classmates and friends, your students will come back with memories of a lifetime. Your students will have a stronger connection to what they are learning and to the world they live in. Thank you for giving your students the opportunity to experience, “The week that lasts a lifetime.” and trusting in us to provide the best outdoor experience possible.

How will my child be supervised?
At all times, your child will be supervised by an adult chaperone (sixth-grade teacher and SCICON staff). The chaperones are present at all activities, including classes, meals, cabin time etc. Also, staff members are trained in first aid, carry radios, and will be present or nearby.

Can I call my child?
Your child will not have access to a phone while attending SCICON. If you have a message that must be delivered to your child, you may call the SCICON office, and we will deliver the message to your child's teacher.

Do you have Wi-Fi?
No, sixth-grade students do not have access to Wi-Fi.

What if it rains?
We are an outdoor school and operate year-round in all weather conditions. In extreme weather conditions, we may modify classes to include inside teaching time. Please check the weather forecast and help your child pack accordingly.
Where will my child be sleeping?
SCICON has 28 centrally located cabins on campus; each of them sleeps between 12-15 students. All cabins have bunk beds or single beds. All of the cabins are climate-controlled. 

Are the restrooms and showers private?
Yes, we have fully contained restrooms which include separate private shower stalls.

My child has special needs, can they still participate?
SCICON accommodates students of all abilities. Depending on the student's capabilities, trails may be modified. Any concerns you may have should be addressed with your child's teacher, who will then notify SCICON. Having that information in advance will help us provide a successful experience for your child while at SCICON.

Do you have a nurse? 
Yes, we have a Registered Nurse and LVN who work at SCICON 24/7 while your student is on campus. They will work with your school's nursing services in regard to any medical needs that your school may have while attending SCICON.

How do you handle medical emergencies?
All SCICON staff are trained in first aid and CPR. They all carry first aid kits. 911 will be called for all medical emergencies. We have AEDs and Epi-Pens on-site and a stocked Health Center with basic first aid supplies. The City of Porterville offers both a 24-hour ER and a Prompt Care for daytime emergencies. If your child should need medical attention, all efforts will be made to contact parents/guardians before care or transport.

My child takes medicine, do I need a doctor’s order? 

Yes, per California Education Code §49423(a), all medications, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, drinks (protein shakes, probiotic drinks, etc…), therapies, essential oils, and creams need to be approved by a physician using the backside of the Health Registration Form.  A doctor’s signature is required for SCICON to administer any of these medications.  Failure to provide a signed doctor’s order will result in your child not receiving their medication during their stay at SCICON.

Medications are not allowed in luggage. Please be sure to turn in all medications to your child’s school nurse prior to departing on the bus to SCICON. This applies to all students under the age of 18.  

My child is diabetic, can they attend SCICON?
Absolutely! Please see the sample menu on the Food Services page with carb counts and contact the SCICON Nurse Denae.Yager@tcoe.org for any major menu concerns.  Unless your child is deemed “independent” by their endocrinologist, all insulin calculations are done with the SCICON health staff. Bedtime medications are given between 8:00-8:30 p.m. depending on the nighttime activity.  If your child experiences nighttime lows, please call the SCICON Nurse to discuss options for overnight care.  All orders should be sent to the SCICON Nurse by your school site nurse 2-4 weeks prior to your child’s arrival at SCICON to ensure all orders are complete and sufficient for camp.  

Please be sure to send your child with plenty of extra supplies.  Students tend to experience more hypoglycemic events due to the increase of exercise, so please send plenty of extra strips for testing blood sugar, and some glucose source.  We do provide apple juice for lows, but sending a juice or snack that your child likes ensures that a hypoglycemic event can be managed quickly and efficiently. It is important to note that we are a nut-free campus, so any snacks sent up cannot contain nuts.  

My child has a food allergy and/or special diet, can this be accommodated?
Yes, we can accommodate almost any food allergy and/or special diet, but we do need ample time to make these accommodations.  Please work with your child’s school nurse or call the SCICON Health Center to notify them of dietary needs.  We require a copy of your school’s “Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Accommodations” form CNP-92.  If your school does not have a copy on file already, you will need to obtain an order from your doctor and submit a copy to SCICON.  Please submit the Meal Accommodation Form to Denae.Yager@tcoe.org no less than 2 weeks prior to your child’s arrival to ensure that the food accommodations can be met.  

We are a nut-free campus and do not provide foods containing peanuts or tree nuts.  

My child has seizures, can they still attend?
Yes! If your child has had seizure activity within the last year, we require them to be accompanied by a school-provided health aide or nurse to accompany them on trails and overnight.  Due to the unique nature of SCICON, we would require the health aide or nurse to be available in the cabin overnight and on trails in case of emergencies.  Providing quick care is essential in the event that a seizure turns into an emergency and requires the administration of emergency medication.  If your child has a history of seizures, but none within the last year, we would need you to provide a signed physician’s order for any maintenance medication and/or emergency medication that your child requires.  Early communication is key, so please be sure to work with your school’s nurse or call the SCICON Health Center directly. 

What happens if my child gets sick or injured at SCICON?
SCICON is equipped with a well-stocked health center for treating most basic injuries and illnesses.  All staff is trained in First Aid and CPR, as well there is a nurse available on campus from 6:45 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and also available on-call overnight. Basic first aid is administered to students who injure themselves at SCICON. For more complex injuries, parents are called to pick up their students. For severe injuries, 911 is called and students are transported to the nearest hospital (Sierra View Medical Center). Minor illnesses are treated with non-medical remedies (gatorade, warm tea, heat, ice, etc…) or with over-the-counter medications given with parent permission (on the back side of the health registration form).  SCICON does not typically notify parents of minor illnesses and injuries during the week, and works with the student to provide remedies to help the student gain some independence with treating their ailment.  

What happens if my child wets the bed?
SCICON has a very discreet way to deal with this situation to ensure that every child feels safe and privately cared for.  Parents should let SCICON know by marking the appropriate box on the health registration form. These students will be given a bottom bunk (where it will be easier to get to the bathroom & clean up/launder any soiled clothing/bedding). If a child wakes up wet in the middle of the night, we have extra dry sleeping bags the Village Coordinator can loan out. In the morning, we wait until the students are eating breakfast to begin laundering the soiled bedding/clothing so no one notices. By the time the students return from their hikes, all bedding/clothing is clean & dry and returned to the bunks.

Some parents choose to send pull-ups with their children for bedtime use. If that is the case, please make sure your child knows ahead of time that pull-ups or adult diapers must be discarded along with any wipes (including flushable) in the trash so as not to harm our septic system.  Please be sure to send your child with a “shower bag '' so that he/she can discreetly transport the pull-ups/adult diapers to the restroom.  Providing small trash bags to wrap it up before leaving the restroom is also helpful.  If sending your child with diapers or pull-ups, please be sure to write it on the health registration form in the comments section.   

What happens if my child gets a tick? 
Ticks are a fact of nature. Frequenting the brush along trails, ticks are blind, deaf, and cannot fly or jump. They simply wait for an animal to brush up next to them and hitch a ride. When they find a nice, warm, uninterrupted space on the body, they bite. Most tick bites cause temporary discomfort and itching but do not transmit disease. The deer tick, however, can be the carrier of Lyme disease.

The best measure for prevention is to ensure your child comes with long pants, long socks and an undershirt to tuck underneath layers for each day at camp. Light-colored clothes also allow for easier tick spotting.  Consider treating your child’s existing clothing with Permethrin in advance of camp to offer long-lasting, extra protection against all insects – including ticks. Lemon eucalyptus oil is also believed to repel ticks, and several all-natural organic sprays now exist on the market.

During hikes, students are taught to walk in the middle of the trail and avoid brushing up against plants. Students and teachers are encouraged to monitor for ticks during the week.  If ticks are found on clothing, students are encouraged to safely brush them off clothing.  

If a student has been bitten by a tick, SCICON staff send the student to the Nurse to have the tick removed using a Tick Tool that ensures the entire tick is removed. The bite is then cleansed with an alcohol wipe. The tick is sealed in a labeled plastic bag and sent home with the student so that parents may choose whether or not to send the tick to a laboratory to check for Lyme Disease. The tick bite is logged into our medical records and the teacher and parent are informed.

If the tick was lodged in the skin, parents can opt to either wait until Friday to pick up their child at the scheduled time, or pick up their child from camp early to take them to urgent care.  

What happens if my child gets homesick? 
Homesickness is common, especially on the first night, as students start to think about bedtime. Our goal is to encourage homesick students to stay for the whole week of adventures. Ultimately, whether or not to send a homesick child home is a decision that will be made collaboratively with the child’s teacher.   

Parents can help their children prepare for a week away from home by spending the night at a trusted adult’s house prior to their visit. Telling your child you will pick them up if they get homesick is not helpful and only sets the student up for failure. SCICON staff deal with homesick students on a daily basis and are well prepared for handling these situations. We offer many tactics to get students involved with the program and get their minds off of being homesick.  These tactics include, but are not limited to: frontloading, reassurance, listening, and reengaging the student in activities.  

SCICON is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students in Tulare and Kern County, and we do our best to keep them here and engaged while learning and having fun.  Phone calls home are not allowed, but SCICON staff will call parents on an individual basis as deemed necessary.  Please help prepare your students for their week at SCICON by getting them excited about all the activities and things they will get to see, do, and learn.  
What happens if my child starts their menstrual cycle while at camp?
If your child starts their menstrual cycle for the first time while at camp, the SCICON Nurse will counsel your child on what to expect during her menstrual cycle, how to use a maxi pad, how to dispose of a maxi pad, and will offer emotional support.  We recognize that a first menstrual cycle can be quite scary, and we offer lots of emotional support and encouragement for the student. Maxi pads will be available all week and throughout multiple locations on campus.     

Will my child be able to carry his/her rescue medication?
Due to the unique nature of SCICON’s expansive campus, it is imperative that students have quick access to their emergency medication while on trails and in their cabins.  Therefore, students prescribed emergency medications like inhalers, epinephrine, glucagon, etc…, will be expected to carry their emergency medication at all times for the duration of camp.   

What do you do to assure the safety of my child?
All schools are required to send their sixth-grade teacher to attend SCICON. All adults staying on campus must be fingerprinted and pass a background check. We also have a U.S. Forest Station, Engine 25 firehouse located on campus. We have established relationships with Cal Fire, the National Forest Service and the Tulare County Sheriff's Office to help us monitor area activity.
Can I visit my child?
For your child's protection, we are a closed-campus. Only the sixth-grade teacher chosen by your child's school is allowed on-site.

Do you have cell phone service?
Cell phone reception is not reliable at SCICON. All sixth-grade students and high school counselors are forbidden from bringing a cell phone to SCICON.

What is the weather going to be like?
Please check the weather forecast to help your child pack the appropriate clothing. You will want to send extra clothing in the wet winter months.

What kind of food do you serve?
All of our meals ensure maximum sustenance for your students' active lifestyle here. We can accommodate vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free diets and most food allergies; however, you must fill out a special dietary request form and return it to your child's teacher at least 2 weeks before attending SCICON. See our Sample Menu.

Will my child have enough to eat?
We are confident that even the most finicky of eaters will find something to eat while at SCICON. Each meal provides several food options that your child can choose from.

Should my child bring money?
No, SCICON does not have a gift shop. However, the Friends of SCICON, a 501(c)(3)  nonprofit organization, does sell shirts to help send students to SCICON. If you would like to purchase a T-shirt, please visit their website at https://www.friendsofscicon.org.

If we have an emergency and need to reach our child, who do we contact?
You may call our office at (559) 539-2642; the phone is monitored 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. during the school week. If there is no answer, there is an emergency after-hours number on the answering machine.

Still have questions?
Feel free to contact us.