School Programs

Historic School House - Columbia State ParkPark staff, docent volunteers and concessionaires at Columbia State Historic Park take great pride in presenting a number of quality educational programs for schools. In this way, we help preserve the rich heritage that is an important part of our lives as Californians and in the history of our state. Financial support for these programs is provided by Friends of Columbia.

We offer a variety of opportunities for school children to gain firsthand experiences to augment their classroom learning about the California gold rush. In fact, over 8,000 fourth graders attend presentations at Columbia State Historic Park each year.

Parking and admission to the park are free. School groups are welcomed to visit the park at any time for self-guided activities.

Program Notes

Welcome returning schools and teachers. We look forward to seeing you this year for the 2021-2022 programs!

When completing the reservation, you must provide complete and accurate information:

  1. The maximum number allowed in the schoolhouse is 39 people and that includes students, teacher, and chaperones.
  2. Minimum class size is 12 students 3rd-5th grade.
  3. Full name and address of school
  4. Complete contact information including email address and phone number.
  5. Have your credit card ready to place reservation.
  6. Teacher making the reservation must remain with their students for the entire tour and/or Schoolhouse program.

Please carefully read the new Terms & Conditions for attending a Schoolhouse Program and/or School Town Tour. They have been modified. These Terms and Conditions will show in a message to you on Bookeo at the time you make your reservation before you confirm your booking. You are required to accept the conditions before you can complete your reservation.

Program Registration

Schoolhouse Program

Students experience firsthand the differences of an 1860 classroom, including manners, cleanliness, chores and discipline.

The schoolhouse program gives students an experiential lesson in an 1860 schoolhouse. The volunteer docent teacher is in period costume and will guide the class in lessons of basic subjects of math, reading, cyphering and geography. The lessons are interactive and informative.

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensible Gold Rush field trip depending on time constraints and interest. There are 15 minutes between each hour program to go to your next tour.  Programs are NOT available the THIRD week in May due to Diggins Tent Town event.

For more information or assistance please call Kelly Leage (209) 532-2023.

Cost is $35 per tour.

School Town Tour

The School Town Tour consists of a 1-hour program led by park staff or docents. Meet at the museum and we will discuss  Columbia and the Gold Rush. Miners came from around the world using several routes. Learn how they made their living in Columbia and effects of water and fire on the gold rush town. Included in the tour is hands on mining demonstration, a talk on general mercantilism, and weather permitting, a bucket brigade.

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensible Gold Rush field trip depending on time constraints and interest. There are 15 minutes between each hour program to go to your next tour.  Programs are NOT available the THIRD week in May due to Diggins Tent Town event.

For more information or assistance please call Kelly Leage (209) 532-2023.

The cost is $35 per tour.

Gold Trek

This is a unique living history program offered during select Thursdays each spring. This program requires a one-hour online lesson with distance learning interpreter, Alec Knapp. We will contact you once you are registered to schedule the online lesson. A teacher’s guide is provided with a series of required in-class programs and activities led by the teacher. The teacher will divide the classes into companies before the field trip, so the students arrive at the park prepared for their Gold Trek. Each time slot can accommodate 35 students, divided into companies of 7 each.

When they arrive at the park, the students participate as “companies” in an auction where they have the opportunity to spend or save their money, purchase maps, carts, supplies, and shovels, and start on their journey. Along the route to the gold fields, they encounter charlatans, merchants, ferry crossings, and opportunities to make critical decisions that affect their ability to arrive at the diggins ready to work.

Gold Trek is meant to replicate the experience that many gold seekers faced as they traveled from Stockton to the diggings in search of gold.

This program requires a one-hour online pre-lesson with park’s distance learning interpreter. The pre-lesson is offered in January and February to introduce students to the Gold Rush so they will be better prepared for the Gold Trek and can have a more enriching experience. The lesson covers historical Gold Rush history, Columbia’s town history, routes of travel, and information about the trek from the Port of Stockton to Columbia. The lesson is approximately ½ hour long.

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

2022 Program Information

When: Thursdays, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and April 7, 2022
Start Times: 9:30am, 10:00am, and 10:30am.
Program Length: 3 hours.
Cost: This program costs $4.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021 at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools.

New for 2022! Homeschool Option

Homeschool programs will now have a Gold Trek program tailored to them. There will be 2 start times with a minimum of 7 students from third grade through eighth grade. Several different homeschools will participate in the trek at the same timeslot.

When: April 14, 2022
Start Times: 9:30 and 10:30am
Program Length: 3 hours.
Cost: This program costs $4.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021 at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools.

Columbia Diggins Tent Town Education Days - May 19 & 20, 2022.

Each year, docents and staff recreate an early tent town to demonstrate the daily life of Gold Rush mining camps. Educational programs for 4th graders are offered on the Thursday and Friday of Columbia Diggins Tent Town. Students get a chance to tour the camp and interact with characters from 1852.

This program adheres to the state’s curriculum standards, and provides an unbeatable opportunity for students to experience first-hand what they’ve learned in the classroom. This program is very popular and reservations are required.

When: May 19 & 20, 2022
Start Times: 9:15am, 10:15am, 11:15am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm
Program Length: 1 hour
Cost: This program costs $7.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021. at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools.

To preserve the learning environment, classes without reservations are not admitted on Thursday or Friday of the event.  The cost is $7/student, which includes $5 worth of “Columbia Eagles” which are redeemed for goods, food or services in the camp, giving students an opportunity to interact in the mercantile economy of the camp.

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

• PORTS – Full for 2022.  Columbia SHP is a host site for the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program, or PORTS. This program uses videoconference technology to link students to park personnel and the California gold rush. It introduces California content standards in a fun and interactive way. Click here for a direct link, or go to school programs for a better overview offered by the California State Parks.

• Passports -Columbia’s Passports  is a self-guided touring aid where students are required to find, identify and list items found in locations throughout the park. It’s a treasure hunt of information where they learn firsthand about details of the mining days. It meets the California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content.
Passports can be purchased for $1 each in the museum or ordered in advance of your school trip by clicking  here to download and print a Passport order form. Due to high demand for the Passports, prepaid orders are filled first and no orders are shipped without prepayment

Registration opens October 20, 2021 at 3:30 pm.

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