Job Information

Catholic Charities of San Francisco Marin San Mateo Program Naturalist (Occidental, CA) in Occidental, California

Program Naturalist (Occidental, CA)


Catholic Charities is one of the largest, oldest, and most comprehensive nonprofit human services organizations in Northern California, annually reaching more than 60,000 vulnerable individuals of all faiths in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. With a staff of approximately 450, reaching peaks of nearly 600 with seasonal hires, a budget of $54.3 million, and a current governing board of 27, this venerable, fully-accredited, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit addresses some of the most pressing community needs – homelessness, generational poverty, immigration, inequality, hunger, aging in isolation, and communicable disease -- to name a few – with compassion and services of highest quality.

Live and work in the Sonoma Coast Redwoods delivering a cutting-edge science curriculum, illuminating the divine in all things—and changing lives!

Caritas Creek at CYO Camp ( at Catholic Charities is a comprehensive, 5-day residential environmental education experience for students in the 5th-8th grades. The program offers a blend of age-appropriate science curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and retreat style activities fostering social, spiritual, and academic development for youth from diverse backgrounds. During the week, students are exposed to a series of themes, hikes, activities and lessons designed to promote learning, awareness and character development on multiple levels: personal, social, environmental and spiritual.

One of the unique aspects of the program is the faith-based community building experience of Caritas, where the focus is placed on recognizing the individual's unique gifts and strengths. Through hands-on exploration, Caritas endeavors to illuminate the divine in all things and build empathy and understanding for the natural world.

Program Naturalist Overview

View the CYO Camp experience (

Program Naturalists

Do you see the interconnectedness of all aspects of the ecosystem as a spiritual concept? Are you devoted to the development of the mind, body and spirit of the students Caritas Creek serves?

Program Naturalist Duties:

• Live and work in the Redwood Forest of west Sonoma county in a community of 20 fun-loving individuals dedicated to holistic education, making a difference in kid's lives and changing the world.

• Deliver an innovative science-based curriculum developed by the BEETLES Program of the Lawrence Hall of Science: research-based, field tested and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

• Spend each week with your own Exploration Group of 11-13 students facilitating an experience that deepens their connection to self, others, nature and God (or spirit of love or source energy or universe or insert name that suits you here !).

• View a detailed Program Naturalist job description » (

A Typical Day

Program Naturalists begin each work day at an 8:45am meeting with their colleagues to plan the route they will take through the camp's 215-acre redwood forest. They create their own lesson plans—deciding when and where to deliver science, team building, spiritual and social/emotional curriculum provided by the program. After they pick up their exploration group of 11-13 students at the main lodge, they disappear into the forest to explore and learn until they return to main camp at 2:30pm. For the remainder of the afternoon, Naturalists that are on duty run electives such as archery, canoeing, arts and crafts or Gaga ball (a dodge ball game played in a mud pit!). Night time activities include small group sharing sessions called Serendipities (a flashlight-less night hike), campfire and an all-camp celebration.

There is a philosophical theme for each day in which Naturalists connect their curriculum: New Discoveries, Connections, Power and Equality, Change and Springboard. Every Friday Naturalists facilitate a closing ceremony with their exploration group in which they prepare a presentation for the all-camp closure that ends the week for students. After the participants depart at noon on Friday, Program Naturalists perform a variety of tasks to ready the facility for the following Monday. A staff meeting usually ends by 3pm, then everybody enjoys their weekends free in beautiful West Sonoma County!


The CYO Camp & Retreat Center ( is located amidst 215 acres of towering redwood forest and open meadow in historical western Sonoma county, just six miles from the Pacific Ocean and a short walk away from the town of Occidental. The Russian River winds through valleys to the north and the San Francisco Bay Area lies tantalizingly close, 60 miles to the south.

Originally a logging settlement in the mid-1800s, you can step back into history as you explore Occidental's cozy cafés, open art studios, unique boutiques and the region's 150 wineries. From the dramatic Sonoma coastline, the incredible redwoods of Armstrong Woods, to a stage-side seat at the Celtic Music Festival or Jazz on the Russian River, there is something for everyone.

CYO Camp is a beautiful facility to deliver a science curriculum, build strong communities, teach leadership and plant the seed of environmental awareness and sustainability to tomorrow's leaders.

Time Commitment

Now Hiring for the 2023-24 Season!

Fall Season : August 28th–December 8th, 2023

Winter/Spring Season : January 22nd–May 31st, 2024

Includes 1-2 weeks of paid training. Mid-season start dates are possible.

Perks & Rewards

Compensation includes $510/week (with a $510 incentive payment for completing the season), one paid week off each season, housing in a private room , meals while programs are in session, and a $500 medical reimbursement. Staff housing is one mile away from the main side of camp and a short walk to the quaint town of Occidental, featuring several excellent restaurants, a health food store, cool shops, a farmers market, yoga studio, and much, much more!

The Essentials


• Bachelor's degree in education, environmental studies, geography, biology, psychology, sociology, or related disciplines (or comparable and amazing life experience)

• Experience in working with children ages 10-14 (experience working with children from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds helpful)

• Ability to support and deliver academic, social and spiritual goals

• Current certification in CPR/first aid (can arrange for certification).

Your First Move & Connections

If you are a dynamic, fun-loving individual dedicated to connecting students to one another and to the natural world through science and exploration, send your resume, cover letter and questions to Paul Raia ( (and feel free to call Paul with any questions!).

Paul Raia (

Associate Director

Caritas Creek at CYO Camp

2136 Bohemian Hwy

Occidental, CA 95465

(707) 874-0226


I was a camper at Caritas Creek in 1980 when I was 12 years old and the 5-day experience forever changed my life. I learned to celebrate human diversity and see myself as an integral part of the environment, completely atomically connected to my community, the ecosystem, the sun and earth. I volunteered as a Cabin Leader in high school and returned to serve as a Program Naturalist in 1992. Over the decades I have witnessed thousands of students and staff transform during their week, often boarding the bus on Friday in tears because of the depth of the experience. One of the corner stones of the program is the love we show each individual participant that we are honored to share space with. We create a loving family feel that allows us to take kids deeper than they would normally go. —Paul Raia, Assistant Director

DISCLAIMER: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.

In accordance with the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), Catholic Charities SF does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs, or activities. Furthermore, Catholic Charities SF does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its hiring or employment practices and complies with all regulations promulgated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under title I of the ADA

CATHOLIC CHARITIES IS AN EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER and is committed to providing equal employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, legal domicile status, veteran status, disability or AIDS/HIV status or any other characteristic protected under federal or state law.

Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

Department or Program: CYO Camp

This is a non-management position

This is a temporary position

Union status: Non-union

Fingerprinting clearance: Required

TB Screening: Not required

First Aid Certificate: Standard First Aid required

COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination: Not required

Pay Range: $510 weekly with housing (with a $510 incentive payment for completing the season),