Cerro Coso Community College hosted the first statewide educators retreat for about 80 attendees teaching face-to-face college programs throughout California’s prisons and jails. Known as, BASECAMP 2019: Prison Educators Retreat, the event was held at Tehachapi Mountain Park from Sept. 26-29 in conjunction with Bakersfield College, Corrections to College California and New York University’s McSilver Institute.

Attendees included College of the Redwoods, Southwestern College, San Diego City College, Cuesta College, Antelope Valley College, Norco College, Imperial Valley College, Allan Hancock College, Columbia College, Folsom Lake College, Chaffey College, Cal State LA and the Prison University Project in San Quentin.

BASECAMP 2019 focused on professional development opportunities and personal wellness for practitioners in the field during a multi-day retreat in a beautiful natural setting, as opposed to the traditional hotel conference venue. The goal of the event was to promote collaboration and best practices among the college institutions, as well as learn from leading industry experts from NYU’s McSilver Institute regarding trauma-informed care and resiliency. Each morning began with the options for a hike, personal reflection, or a yoga and meditation session led by local instructor Tina Warren-Diaz of Bear Valley Springs Yoga.

Cerro Coso Community College partnered with many local vendors and highly encouraged environmental responsibility, supplying personalized reusable cups to all attendees. The food was catered by Ryan Silas-Groves from The Butcher Shop, who prepared an outstanding selection of meals to a variety of preferences. Also in attendance were Local Craft Beer and Triassic Vineyard representatives providing guests with a sample of Tehachapi’s local libations. A relaxing ambience was provided each night by local musicians Alex and Deja Bruhl and moments throughout the retreat were captured by local photographer Jeffrey Jacobs. South Street Digital produced the event brochures and agenda. Cerro Coso Community College wanted to represent and highlight the local talents in the Tehachapi community.

Cerro Coso Community College is one of 22 community colleges throughout the state providing direct face-to-face instruction and support services to more than 7,000 students throughout California’s 35 prisons, according to fall 2017 data from California Community College Chancellors Office.

Cerro Coso’s Incarcerated Student Education Program operates in California City Correctional Facility and Tehachapi’s California Correctional Institution and is currently serving more than 1,100 incarcerated students with 4,875 course enrollments this academic term. Incarcerated students are able to work toward one of seven associate degrees through Cerro Coso’s program and 43 incarcerated student graduates were celebrated in the spring 2019 commencement.

Natalie Dorrell is the director of public relations and institutional advancement at Cerro Coso Community College.