About Woolman

Our Mission and Vision

The mission of Woolman is to steward diverse learning communities and educational programs that weave together spirituality, peace, sustainability and social action. Our programs reflect our vision of peace and justice through learning and service for people of all ages—children, youth, adults and families.

Site and Programs

Woolman sits in a stunning, expansive foothills landscape surrounded by trees and meadows. Here adults and youth from diverse identities and geographies experience programs based on Quaker ideals for peace, justice and sustainability. They reconnect with the personal values of fairness, diversity and equality in our social systems, and learn to take action to heal the planet while living in a nurturing community.  Each of our program areas reflect this commitment:

  • Camps. A variety of camps are offered that bring groups of people together in nature and to enjoy each other. And they are loads of fun!

  • Camp Woolman. Summer camp is committed to values of acceptance, peace, justice, and sustainability largely through multi-day wilderness hikes where campers backpack into the wilderness with a trained guide. 
  • Teen Leadership Camp. This summer experience is for older campers and trains them to become leaders and teachers as they spend most of their time hiking in the wilderness.
  • Family and Alumni Camps. This program allows people to connect with nature as a family through a partial work-exchange while onsite and to celebrate Woolman “wonderfulness”!
  • Education and Enrichment. This program speaks to the core of our mission is to steward learning communities. 
    • Woolman Outdoor School. This program brings STEAM and NGSS programs into the natural setting, helping students see the direct connection and use of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in the natural world.
    • Jorgensen School for Nonviolence. This nine-month program helps people learn the principles and history of nonviolence as it relates to themselves personally and the broader world.
    • Community Enrichment.  These programs are partner- or third-party-driven and offer a range of experiences at Woolman such as the annual Noborigama Kiln Firing.  
  • Retreats & Stays. Individuals, groups and families are invited to Woolman for organized group retreats or personal stays.

Woolman History

Sixty years ago, a group of Quaker and like-minded families came together with the dream of creating a Quaker/Friends residential high school on the West Coastand purchased a 300-acre, historic cattle ranch in the Sierra foothills, and in 1963 opened the first Quaker residential high school west of the Mississippi.  John Woolman, a Quaker born during the 1700s whose work served as the inspiration for the school’s naming, was most known for walking thousands of miles urging Quakers to abolish the institution of slavery by freeing their slaves and boycotting various goods made by slave labor. Woolman also worked diligently to promote peace among settlers and indigenous tribes, truly “letting his life speak.” John Woolman School offered students academic instruction in the Quaker tradition of peace, justice, simplicity and a back-to-the-land lifestyle popular in the ‘60s.  The school campus, called Sierra Friends Center, includes a working farm and 44 structures: dormitories, staff residences, and administrative and teaching facilities.  The residential school operated until 2016.  Since then the site hosts outdoor educational programs and summer camps, and retreats and as a community resource.  Today, Woolman at Sierra Friends Center is growing each year as our programs connect more people with our work and mission.