Our History

Kids cheering.

Guided Discoveries was born of Ross and Kristi Turner's experience taking students on science-related field trips.

During these excursions, they began to realize the power of a fun and immersive science-based program. In 1976, Ross and Kristi took the leap and moved their young family to Catalina Island, California. By 1979, Ross and Kristi had incorporated Guided Discoveries, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) as its first program. CIMI was quickly succeeded by GDI’s first summer camp, Catalina Sea Camp, in the summer of 1980.

Old photo of kids at camp.

As Guided Discoveries grew and evolved, a program paradigm emerged. The experience would be an experiential education adventure that was fun for the students. Small groups, plentiful scientific equipment, an emphasis on process over facts, and dedicated instructors hired for their natural teaching style became the hallmarks of the program.

As the programs continued to prosper, GDI began to consider expansion and conducted its first AstroCamp pilot program in 1988. Using the same hands-on educational philosophy as the CIMI program, AstroCamp focused on astronomy and the physical sciences. In 1991 AstroCamp ran its first summer camp and was relocated to its current home in Idyllwild, California.

Man with telescope.

In 2015, Guided Discoveries acquired Camp Motorsport in Clover, Virginia and expanded it to include an additional AstroCamp program, as well as Camp CHOP, a culinary summer camp.

Chef with camper.
Girl with thumbs up go-carting.

In 2012, Guided Discoveries proudly served its 1,000,000th child and continues to serve 55,000 students and campers annually with its unique, hands-on, experiential science programs. As the employees and clients have turned Ross and Kristi Turner’s original dream into reality, the Guided Discoveries vision continues to expand as it considers other exciting opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

GDI Timeline Infographic.

All Guided Discoveries Programs since 1979

CIMI Toyon Bay, 1979-present

Anacapa Island Summer Expedition, 1979

Catalina Sea Camp, 1980-present

Avalon Marine Interpretive Center, 1983-1988

Bahia de Los Angeles Student Expedition, 1987-1988

AstroCamp, 1988-present

CIMI Cherry Cove, 1990-present

CIMI at Bahia de Los Angeles with the Crane School, 1990-1994

AstroCamp Summer Adventure, 1991-present

Ocean Day Camp with Oceanic Society, Marina del Rey, 1995

CIMI Fox Landing, 1999-present

Sea Camp Expedition: Belize, 2000-2001

CIMI Tall Ship Expeditions (SSV Tole Mour), 2001-2014

Sea Camp Expedition: Costa Rica, 2005

Sea Camp Belize on Ambergris Caye, 2010

AstroCamp Virginia, 2017-present

Camp Motorsport, 2017-present

AstroCamp International: China, 2018-2019

Camp CHOP, 2019-present

Girls jumping into water.

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