Trapper’s Camp Mobile Learning Program

Bringing Sutter’s Fort to Colusa and Red Bluff since 1983

Friends of Sutter’s Fort is proud to sponsor the Trapper’s Camp Mobile Learning Program, which brings educational experiences from Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park to Colusa and Red Bluff. This program has been delighting students and teachers since the 1980s! 

Please note that California State Parks will not be offering Trapper’s Camp during the 2019 season. Friends of Sutter’s Fort encourages you to review the other educational programs offered at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. For more information, please contact California State Park staff at 916-445-8115. 

During the Trapper’s Camp Mobile Learning Program students are “transported back in time” to an 1840’s fur trapping camp along the Sacramento River. The presenters will be in clothing appropriate to the period, and will generally act as if they are actually in 1846. At both the Colusa and Red Bluff sites, we present the students with the idea that they will be walking back in time as they move from their buses to the camp.

Students will experience four interpretive stations that make up the complex operations of the camp. Presenters at each station are highly trained and experiences volunteer docents and staff from Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, who take on personas of individuals from the 1840s. Each station will provide students with an opportunity to learn about history, science, technology, engineering and math.

Trapper’s Camp also teaches students about the political changes taking place in California including the Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican-American War.

The History of Trapper’s Camp

In 1983 volunteers from Sutter’s Fort became enamored with the lives of the 19th Century trappers. The volunteers wanted to see how closely they could live like real trappers. In the yard of Sutter’s Fort they built their dugout canoes from native trees, hauled the canoes to the river, and launched their journey north. Newspapers wrote stories of the trapper’s adventure and at each stop more and more people came to the trapper’s camp to see them and how they lived. It didn’t take the volunteers long to realize that the moving trapper’s camp was a wonderful way to bring the educational programming of Sutter’s Fort to schools and families that might not be able to take a field trip to the Fort. And, Sutter’s Fort Mobile Living History (Trapper’s Camp) was born.

The number of volunteers participating and the quantity of equipment used for visitor activities long ago outgrew the dugout canoes. It now requires a large moving van and several people all day to set-up camp in the two locations. Each location has easy access and ample parking to accommodate the more than 3,000 students and families that attend Trapper’s Camp each year. The Mobile Living History is now a cooperative effort of California State Parks, Friends of Sutter’s Fort, the U.S. Forest Service, and the City of Colusa.

California Social-Science Standards

The Trapper’s Camp Mobile Learning Program covers many components of 3rd-5th grade Social Science curriculum. Below are just some of the standards ESP covers:

  • 3.3 Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of local historical events and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land.
  • 4.2 Students describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods.
  • 5.8 Students trace the colonization, immigration, and settlement patterns of the American people from 1789 to the mid-1800s, with emphasis on the role of economic incentives, effects of the physical and political geography, and transportation systems.