Guided Discoveries, Inc.

aka Catalina Island Marine Institute, Catalina Sea Camp, AstroCamp, Camp Motorsport, Camp CHOP   |   San Juan Capistrano, CA   |  http://www.guideddiscoveries.org

Mission

Guided Discoveries is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children through unique opportunities for discovery.

Ruling year info

1979

President

Craig Turner

Main address

27282 Calle Arroyo

San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

95-3285562

NTEE code info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Science is not prioritized in our education system in the same way as math and literacy, so students do not always have access to meaningful, experiential science education in their schools. Guided Discoveries was founded in order to provide these experiences to schoolchildren in an impactful way, thus providing the means for true understanding of science concepts, personal growth of students in an outdoor environment, and empowerment of students to pursue an interest in science and become stewards of our planet.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Catalina Island Marine Institute

The Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) is an outdoor marine science school operating at three different sites on Catalina Island. Three- to five-day field overnight trips for grades 4-12 provide experiential education opportunities involving snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and marine science labs.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children
Preteens

Catalina Sea Camp is a summer camp on Catalina Island for children ages 8-17, offering programs in sailing, SCUBA diving, science, adventure, and art.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children
Preteens

AstroCamp School Programs are outdoor science schools operating in California and Virginia. Three-to five-day field trips for grades 4-12 provide experiential education opportunities involving physical science labs, astronomy, and high ropes/adventure classes.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children
Preteens

Summer camps in California and Virginia for children ages 8-17, offering programs in physical science, astronomy, adventure, and art.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children
Preteens

Summer camp in Clover, VA for children ages 9-17, offering various motorsport programs, including go-karts, dirt buggies, mechanics, and engineering.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children
Preteens

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants engaged in programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers represent the total participants in all Guided Discoveries school year and summer camp programs since its founding in 1979. Each year's metric is for GDI's fiscal year.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Guided Discoveries has three main goals that tie into its mission:

First, we aim to educate schoolchildren in the sciences. Our educational programs focus on either marine science (Catalina Island Marine Institute) or physical science, astronomy, and engineering (AstroCamp). Science learning is often pushed to the backburner in order to prioritize the more regularly tested subjects of math and literacy. We feel that science is critical to students’ education, and that science is best learned when it is carried out and experienced. Talking about an experiment is not nearly the same as doing it. Our goal is to provide children the opportunity to experience science in a way that is meaningful and powerful.

Second, we aim to promote the personal growth of students who attend our programs. In the process of exploring science and the natural world, students dive into new and challenging experiences. Our goal is to provide a safe environment in which they can build confidence, develop peer relationships, and improve other 21st century skills.

Third, we aim to empower students to further pursue the sciences and protect the natural world. As stated by Kristine Tompkins, “You can’t protect a place unless you understand it. You can’t love it until you know it.” A greater understanding of science encourages students to pursue subjects even further, perhaps even as far as a career path in research, conservation, or education. Meaningful connections empower students to take action and protect the natural world, impacting a new generation of environmental stewards.

Guided Discoveries’ programs are completely experiential; students are immersed in the science as they snorkel over a rocky reef or build and launch their own rocket. Our dedicated teaching spaces and outdoor immersive experiences allow students to explore and discover, encouraging them to question, develop hypotheses, and seek answers. Students experience and understand science concepts in a way that simply cannot be achieved in their school classrooms, all the while generating meaningful connections with the outdoor spaces in which they are learning. As science and technology changes and new discoveries are made in our natural world, we update our programs and curriculum to provide the most accurate and powerful experience possible.

As our programs take place in a multi-day, residential format, children receive the added benefits of spending extended time in the outdoors, spending time away from home (often for the first time), and engaging with their peers on a deeper level. After students attend our programs, teachers and parents often report positive changes in students’ confidence, collaboration skills, and general behavior, in addition to their increase of scientific understanding. Our young and energetic staff promote an encouraging environment in which children feel comfortable and confident as they tackle new and unique experiences, and they provide positive mentors that children look up to and relate to. Our summer camps take this to the next level, as children remain with us for one to three weeks at a time and are able to develop their social and emotional skills even further.

The meaningful and immersive experiences provided by our programs forge connections between students and the world around them, creating environmental stewards and sparking interest in sciences and the natural world. Snorkeling through schools of fish or kayaking among dolphins creates a connection between students and the ocean that cannot be gained by watching a documentary. Launching a rocket of their own design or gazing at Saturn’s rings through a telescope generates wonder and intrigue for physics and the universe that cannot be gained during the normal school day. Students leave our programs with a greater understanding of and connection to the world around them, as well as a greater desire to explore and protect it. This means that students return home more environmentally conscious, more driven to spend more time out-of-doors, and more interested in pursuing a career in a natural or physical science.

Guided Discoveries’ facilities are placed in very specific locations. Our Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) sites are all located on the leeward side of Catalina Island in sheltered coves, allowing for very easy access to calm ocean waters for snorkeling and kayaking. A charter company operating out of the conveniently located port of Long Beach, CA ferries guests directly to our sites on Catalina. Our AstroCamp sites are located in remote areas away from light pollution, allowing for stargazing of clearer night skies than most students have ever before experienced. Students and their chaperones reside on-site at our facilities for 3-5 days while participating in our school year programs. Summer campers reside with us for extended periods of 1-3 weeks.

In order to provide the best experience possible for our students and campers, we have developed designated teaching spaces for all of our classes. Students walk into a space that is wholly dedicated to one subject or concept, allowing them to be fully immersed in and able to explore that subject for the duration of the class. When students enter CIMI’s “Invertebrate Lab,” they see colorful artwork and diagrams on the walls, various white boards for recording observations, and live animals in aquariums, including several touch tanks, which allow them to get up-close and personal with local invertebrate species. When students enter AstroCamp’s “Atmosphere & Gases Lab,” they see gas cylinders, periodic tables, vacuum chambers, and various other equipment, which they will use to carry out their own experiments relating to pressure, volume, and temperature of gases (perhaps resulting in a controlled explosion or two!). These settings simply cannot be replicated in a formal school classroom. They allow us to do our work in the most impactful way possible, and they are updated on a regular basis.

At Guided Discoveries, we pride ourselves on our people. We hire energetic and passionate staff who are dedicated to carrying out the Guided Discoveries mission. We believe that the best way to educate children about science and the natural world is to employ people who are themselves educated in the sciences and passionate about exploring the natural world. All of our instructors have at least a bachelor’s degree in a science or environmental field, with some having already achieved higher degrees. Additionally, we provide our CIMI instructors with American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard certifications, which include first aid, CPR, and oxygen administration so that they can safely carry out water activities. Most importantly, our instructors enjoy working with children and are passionate about sharing their love of science and the natural world.

Currently serving approximately 57,000 individuals annually, Guided Discoveries has served a total of 1.5 million since our humble beginnings in 1979. While we started with a single CIMI facility in California, we have expanded to operating three CIMI sites and one AstroCamp site in California, as well as an AstroCamp site on the east coast in Virginia. We operate our facilities 11 months of the year, serving schools from across the country and summer campers from around the world.

We have regularly updated our curriculum and teaching spaces, and we will continue to do so into the future. Our classes are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards to provide the best learning experience for students, while also tying in nicely to the NGSS and curriculum being used in their schools. Since 1979 CIMI has upgraded from teaching “algae in a bucket” on the beach, to teaching in an algae lab decorated with beautiful murals with lab tables inset with wells, which have fresh saltwater inflow and house algae samples for students to examine and explore. Similarly, AstroCamp has evolved from having a few collapsible telescopes, to having designated observatory spaces with computerized 12-14” diameter telescopes that can be used to view deep space objects such as nebulae and record deep space images. As technology improves and science evolves, we will continue to improve and enhance our programs and facilities.

Knowing that we have an impact in the lives of 57,000 children each year also creates a strong sense of social responsibility. While Guided Discoveries endeavors to operate in a mindful way, we recognize that we can do more to improve our interactions with and impacts on the children who participate in our programs. One of our next projects for 2021 is to develop formal JEDI and trauma-informed teaching trainings. We believe it is very necessary to provide these trainings to our staff so that they may provide an even better social-emotional experience for the children we serve.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Guided Discoveries, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Guided Discoveries, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 11/19/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Gerald Tambe

LPL Financial

Term: 2019 - 2020

Steve Garrett

Steve Garrett & Associate

Kristi Turner

Co-Founder of Guided Discoveries (retired)

Nicole Caldera

County of San Bernardino Dept. of Child Support Services

Jeremy Beck

The GreenHouse Group

Charles Jones

Jones Coffee Roasters

Brian Garrett

Garrett Design Build

Stephanie Vetterli

George E. Whalen VA Medical Center

Ross Turner

CEO & Co-Founder of Guided Discoveries

Jennifer Baldocchi

Paul Hastings LLP

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/03/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data