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*Field Trip Registration for the 2016-17 School Year has closed, but you can sign up for our waiting list.

 

Our Mission is to serve Southern Arizona as a leader in:

  • Increasing ecological understandings and deepening feelings for the natural world,
  • Providing  hands-on, research-based programs in science and earth education,
  • Creating lifelong memories through our overnight and multi-night experiences,
  • and Inspiring learners of all ages, from children to university students to adults, to live more lightly in our Sonoran Desert community and beyond.

For more than 50 years, the Cooper Center, known to many in Southern Arizona as “Camp Cooper,” has been providing memorable Sonoran Desert experiences to K-8 students through overnight and day-long field trips. Over 130,000 Southern Arizonans have enjoyed the wonders of the Sonoran Desert at Cooper since 1964, and another 3,000 students join them each year.

We look forward to working with you and your students!

Colin “Jackrabbit” Waite, Director       Dr. Costas “Black Bear” Manoli, Assistant Director

Important Program Information

  • Cooper experiences are open to any school or educational group.
  • The deadline for Field Trip Registration is Friday, September 9th.
  • Please read this entire packet carefully before completing your registration.
  • Please share this flyer! Many people have not heard of Cooper or experienced its programs. 
  • Program Fees for 2016-17 School Year (As approved by TUSD and UA College of Education)
     
    Half Day Programs (K-2) $5 per student
    Full Day Programs (K-8)  $8 per student
    Overnight Programs (K-8) $10 per student
    Earthkeepers (4-5) $40 per student TUSD; $50 per student non-TUSD
    Sunship III (middle school) $60 per student, meals included
  • Field Trip Funding Assistance Available
    Cooper Center’s grassroots fundraising efforts have connected us with thousands of people who want to help make your field trip a success. This support may be in the form of an Arizona Tax Credit donation, volunteering during the experience, or some other assistance. This past year, every teacher who asked Cooper for funding assistance received it, and we pledge to do our best to help you meet your needs again in the coming year. As always, Cooper Center will not turn away any school that wants a field trip experience but is unable to pay. We will find a way to fund your trip, even if it takes the entire school year to do the necessary fundraising.
  • *NEW* Changes to Group Size After Field Trip Confirmation
    The Cooper Center’s funding for staff and operations is dependent on program fees that come from field trips. This means that we need as accurate a count of student participants as possible from you, both at the beginning of the year when you reserve your trip and also a few weeks before the experience. If fewer than three-quarters of the expected students attend on the day of your field trip, you may be charged for three-quarters of the expected total if advanced notice isn’t given. For example, if you inform the Cooper Center staff that 60 students will be attending and only 40 arrive, and no changes have been expected, then your group will be charged for 45 students, or three-quarters of the original 60. If you have any questions regarding this new policy, please contact us.
  • Reviewing the Cooper Center Trip Cancellation Policy
    Unfortunately, we had multiple last-minute cancellations of field trips last year, so now is a good time to review our cancellation policy, as approved by TUSD and UA.  The policy states that “Should a cancellation become necessary within four (4) weeks of your program or use date, the organization may be charged the minimum per participant fee or the entire rental fee at the Cooper Center’s discretion. Cancellations between four (4) and eight (8) weeks of the agreement date may be charged one-half (½) the minimum per participant fee or one-half (½) the use fee.” Cancellations that take place at least eight (8) weeks in advance or due to weather considerations will not be charged a fee. Cooper Center will work with you to ensure that your trip happens as planned or that an alternative field trip date can be arranged. Fees will only be charged in extreme circumstances, such as cancellation within the week of the planned trip with no alternative trip date available.
  • *NEW* - Middle School Program Focuses on Science Inquiry – Cooper Center staff worked with the TUSD Regional Science Center and leaders in science education at the UA College of Education to develop a new program for middle schoolers, based on scientific inquiry through investigations of the desert mistletoe in the Sonoran Desert.  Each student participates in hands-on, minds-on inquiry in a real world setting – developing a research question, formulating a research plan, gathering and analyzing data, developing conclusions, and working collaboratively as part of a research team. We’re still developing this new experience, but we are excited to add it to our program offerings as an overnight or full day experience for middle school students.
  • TUSD Food Services is now offering to provide meals for any overnight or multi-night experience, even if your field trip is not from a TUSD school.  Contact TUSD Food Services at 520-225-4700 for prices and information.

SunshipIIIsunSunship III (Grades 7/8):  This 3-day, 2-night program gives middle schoolers experiences that allow them to personally connect with the natural world and gain knowledge of how their life choices can impact it. This program is a coming of age celebration that offers each student a chance to make decisions and take responsibility for their choices and actions. Program components focus on energy flow, cycling of materials, interrelationships in nature, finding natural beauty, and the impacts of humans on the planet Earth. The first part of the program takes place at school and helps prepare them for their 3-day experience. At the Cooper Center, they participate in activities to learn more about the key ecological concepts and make choices about their use of energy and materials as they manage a limited supply of “solarians,” units of sunlight energy. Back at home and school, students participate in a “Quest” that includes visiting new natural areas, interviewing community members, modeling positive environmental relationships with the earth, developing their own personal lifestyle, and working with others on an environmental community project. The students return to Cooper in May to celebrate their accomplishments and share what they have learned.

  • Program Dates: November/December
  • Group Size: Maximum 30 students/session; Minimum 20 students/session
  • Fee: $60/student (Note:  Meals are provided by the Cooper Center)
  • Orientation (Thursday, September 1st – 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.): This session is required for teachers who are new to Sunship III and recommended for all teachers. It will include a program overview, teacher roles, leading Sharing Circles, and managing the Quest. Professional Development credit for 5 hours will be awarded through the University of Arizona. Snacks and beverages provided.

Earthkeepers (4th and 5th Graders Only):  This 2-night, 3-day earth education program’s goal is to increase student knowledge of four key ecological concepts (energy flow, cycling of matter, interrelationships of living things, and change over time) and to deepen their feelings for the earth through observation, discovery, solitude, and immersion activities. The program begins two weeks before the visit, when a map and letter arrive inviting the class to become Earthkeepers. At the Earthkeepers Training Center (Cooper) they participate in a series of staff-led activities and students earn two of the four keys to unlock boxes that reveal the secrets to becoming an Earthkeeper. Back at home and school, the students earn the last two keys of the program by pledging to use less energy, fewer materials, visiting new natural areas, and sharing their knowledge and experiences with others.
(Special Note: The Dark Skies Rangers program is offered on the second evening by National Optical Astronomy Observatories/Kitt Peak.)

  • Program Dates: January - March
  • Group Size:  Maximum 60 students/session; Minimum 20 students/session. Single class groups may be combined with other schools for maximum scheduling.
  • Fee: TUSD Schools - $40/student; Other Schools - $50/student
  • Orientation Session (Monday, December 12th, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.): This session is required of all first time Earthkeeper teachers and 3 hours professional development credit will be earned through the University of Arizona. Snacks and beverages provided.

Overnight Experiences (K-8):  Students spend the night at the Cooper Center with classroom teachers and parent volunteers. The group arrives at approximately 10:00 a.m. and departs the following morning between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. There are Cooper staff-led activities on ecological concepts and sensory observation skills for grades 3-8, and a desert exploration and desert animal presentation for grades K-2. Teacher/volunteer-led learning center experiences take place during the remainder of the day (see center choices on website). The Dark Skies Rangers program, provided by National Optical Astronomy Observatory, is available for grades 4 and up (Please be sure to mark this option on Page 2 of the trip request form) or the classroom teacher may select other activities (please ask our staff for suggestions if needed).  

  • Program dates: September, October, April, May
  • Group Size:  Maximum 2 classes
  • Fee:  $10/student
  • Orientation: Wednesday, September 7th 4pm – 7pm, Saturday, September 17th 9am – Noon, or Tuesday, February 7th (Spring Groups Only), 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  This orientation is required of all first time teachers to the Cooper Center and recommended for teachers who haven’t been to Cooper in more than 5 years. Professional Development credit from the University of Arizona earned.

Day Experiences (K-8):  Students spend the day at the Cooper Center with classroom teachers and parent volunteers. The group arrives at approximately 10:00 a.m. and departs in the afternoon between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. unless other arrangements are made. There are staff-led activities on ecological concepts and sensory observation skills for grades 3-8, and a desert exploration and animal presentation for grades K-2. Teacher/volunteer-led learning center experiences take place during the remainder of the day (see center choices on website).

  • Program dates: September, October, April, May
  • Group Size:  Maximum 2 classes
  • Fee: $8/Student
  • Orientation: Wednesday, September 7th 4pm – 7pm, Saturday, September 17th 9am – Noon, or Tuesday, February 7th (Spring Groups Only), 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  This orientation is required of all first time teachers to the Cooper Center. Professional Development credit will be awarded.

Half-day Experiences (TUSD Grades K–2 Only):  A limited number of these experiences are available – most half day requests are placed on the waiting list. Students participate in a discovery-oriented hike through the desert, enjoy a picnic lunch, and meet a Sonoran Desert animal. This experience runs from approximately 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

  • Program dates: September, October, April, May
  • Group Size:  Maximum 2 classes
  • Fee:  $5/student
  • Orientation: Wednesday, September 7th 4pm – 7pm, Saturday, September 17th 9am – Noon, or Tuesday, February 7th (Spring Groups Only), 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. This orientation is required of all first time teachers to the Cooper Center. Professional Development credit will be awarded.