School Programs



Oakgrove is a student-led human relations program that was founded by Venice High School teacher Dale Stuck in 1972 as a way to address race relations on campus. The off-campus weekend retreat in the mountains provided students a forum to discuss their feelings and opinions openly and in a safe place, without fear of judgment.  In the years since, Oakgrove has continually evolved to reflect and address the changing culture, society, and issues as presented by today’s students.


Oakgrove exists as a forum for students:

  • To participate in discussions and activities with fellow students of different cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
  • To give students a space to speak freely and openly about themselves and their feelings without fear of judgment.
  • To make connections with peers with whom they do not usually interact.
  • To gain a better understanding of themselves and their peers.

Oakgrove instills in students a sense of community through understanding.  Participants create an educational environment that is free of judgment, helping students concentrate on their education and improve themselves.  A greater sense of understanding and tolerance enables students to work more efficiently and proactively to improve the school and surrounding areas through discourse and volunteer projects.

The Oakgrove retreat is organized and conducted by a Council of students.  These students are selected each semester by the outgoing Council.  This unique approach is an integral part of Oakgrove’s model of sustainability.  Today, as a program of the Wildwoods Foundation, the Council and Alumni leadership have developed a manual and training process for the Oakgrove program. In 2013, Wildwoods launched Oakgrove on two new schools: John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Students, teachers or administrators interested in bringing Oakgrove to your school, please contact us:


Dale Stuck, a teacher at Venice High School, started Oakgrove in 1972 to address race relations on campus and lingering tensions following the Watts Riots.  When Dale retired, he passed Oakgrove on to David “Gardner” Graber. From David Graber, it was passed to Mark Cohen, then Naomi Sugimoto, and Sam Siegel.  In 2007, the Los Angeles Unified School District changed it’s policy regarding liability coverage for off-campus overnight activities.  This, unfortunately, led to the risk management office denying coverage for Oakgrove retreats.DaleStuck

Sam (who served as a legislative deputy to then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti) turned to two colleagues who served on the board of The Wildwoods Foundation.  Wildwoods’ mission, ideals and philosophies were a natural alignment with the Oakgrove program.  Wildwoods welcomed Oakgrove as one of their programs in 2008.  In the years since, Wildwoods has established Oakgrove in two other schools, Marshall High School in Los Feliz and the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in downtown LA.
Over the years, Oakgrove has been steered by the hands of many, many dedicated volunteer alumni: Byron Najera, Sara Sweeney, Kim Grooms, Kaitlin Amorde, Joseph Feinberg, Mari Ogino, Ariana Dunbar, Kate Bleyer, Nicole Romanak and Jenni Fiederer.

Through all the changes and growth, Oakgrove has remained strong and stayed true to Dale Stuck’s original fundamentals due to the loyal camper and alumni involvement, and his wonderful creation has transcended his life.

A: Yes, campers are always under alumni supervision. Campers are placed in a small group with one Council member – a Venice High student who has demonstrated superior responsibility and leadership – and a Venice High alumnus over the age of 18. Camp staff is also always on site, though they do not participate in activities. One of our main priorities is the safety of the campers. We take this into consideration throughout every step of planning and preparation for Oakgrove. All adults invited back to assist with supervision have undergone background checks and chosen because of their strong commitment to maintaining the safe environment students and parents have come to expect from Oakgrove.

A: As stated previously, one of our main goals is to provide a safe environment for every camper. In order to achieve this Oakgrove holds a strict no drug, alcohol or tobacco policy. Any camper found in possession of drugs, alcohol or tobacco will be sent home immediately and will not be invited or allowed back.
A: The location of Oakgrove can change from semester to semester based on campsite availability. Address and camp info can be found in the packets sent home for parent review. Camp information can also be found on our website and Facebook page. Please verify that the information found on any of these resources is for the current semester retreat. This semester, Oakgrove will take place at Camp JCA Shalom.
A: Oakgrove happens once per fall and spring semester. Usually Oakgrove takes place in early November and early April.
This semester, Oakgrove will be April 12-14, 2013.
A: Campers are separated into male and female cabins and are not allowed into the opposite sex cabins except during supervised activities.
A: Oakgrove was started at Venice High School by teacher Dale Stuck to address race relations on campus.
For a more detailed history and purpose of Oakgrove, please read our History section.
A: Campers are allowed to bring their prescription medication to the camp and take it as prescribed. Alumni can hold camper’s medication for safekeeping, but cannot be responsible for dispensing medication. Campers must be able to self-administer.
For the safety of campers, Alumni Co-Chairs should be informed of students requiring prescriptive medications. All information will be kept confidential.
A: A list of essential items is included in the packet, but here is a second copy:
Sufficient and seasonally appropriate clothes for the weekend
Sleeping bag and pillow
Closed toed comfortable shoes

A: Our goal is for the price of Oakgrove not to be prohibitively expensive. However we are conscious that for some it may still be out of budget. We offer half and full scholarships each semester for students who can demonstrate need. Certain requirements may need to be met for a full scholarship, please refer to the application packet for updated information. Council members will also be able to clarify scholarship requirements if any. Anyone can apply for a half scholarship. Names will be entered into a lottery and chosen randomly. We try and provide as many scholarships as possible. This is where your donations help most as they allow us to provide more scholarships each semester.
A: The fee paid for Oakgrove goes toward paying camp fees, transportation to the campsite, meals, and insurance.
We welcome any questions, concerns, or contributions. Please use this form to contact us:

Comments or questions are welcome.

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