Imagine a school where......

Students are exposed daily to the outdoors

Not just for a few minutes, or a class period, but for the whole school day.  Then, imagine this outdoor immersion is their day-to-day norm.  Rain or shine, warm or cool, snow or blowing pollen, the outdoors serve as our classrooms, sometimes in existing structures, sometimes in those that we construct for ourselves.  

Individual Growth and Community Building are embraced

A daily routine in this community does not consist of passing from classroom to classroom during passing periods, but rather that of working as a group each day to set up a work space together.  This routine of creating one’s own safe space upon reaching a destination -- much like the experience of reaching camp each night for an Appalachian trail through-hiker -- builds self-confidence and self-sufficiency.

The world is our classroom

Throughout this process, students learn how to adapt to a changing environment; this metaphor for the inhabitants of nature also happens to translates to students' ‘real world’ experiences and future lives beyond their school years.

This  concept first took off in Nordic countries, proving that weather need  not serve as an obstacle to outdoor learning.  Once students become skilled in dressing for the environment, whether it be a balmy morning in early autumn, a rainy day in April, or a February snowstorm, it is not only feasible, but a beneficial experience, to adapt to outdoor learning and inquisition.  

Seaside Adventure School

The concept for the Adventure School centers around the idea that our children need more exposure to nature, while simultaneously being removed from the copious amounts of technology that surrounds us all day, every day.  We put a heavy emphasis on inclusivity, unplugging children, and encouraging a sense of community.  These all contribute to our overall mission, but what truly distinguishes us from other schools are the core values of adventure, sustainability, and innovation.  We strive to teach children to be inquisitive, and sensitive, and brave, and adventurous, thoughtful and caring, yet still willing to take risks.


Outdoors with Friends

guided hikes and adventures

This opportunity is designed to provide outdoor experience and skills in a safe and inclusive community-oriented environment. Your kids will join others along with an experienced educator on “expeditions” through many of the dynamic public trails around the North Shore. Each child will learn to recognize local plants and animals as well as learn about seasonal changes and the fragility of our natural spaces. John Muir, one of the first advocates for the preservation of the environment, stated, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than [they] seek.”  That is our vision and ultimate goal, to teach children to see the beauty in the natural world that surrounds us.  To not only continuously feel surprise as they discover new things about the environment, but to enjoy it and develop a true love of the outdoors.  Outdoors with Friends is an opportunity for kids to explore the natural world safely and to feel their connection to it. In the woods there is always time for fun and exploration and there is no place better to be a kid. 


Beach kids

beach explorations

Beach Kids is all about following the child and fulfilling their boundless curiosity and desire to explore.  Cape Ann is home to some of the oldest harbors in our nation.  It is not only our goal, but our responsibility to both keep these coastal communities clean, as well as teach the youngest generation about the world around us.  We also want children to develop a love of, and care for, the environment; especially those habitats that are unique to the Cape Ann area. Each adventure starts out at a new beach on the North Shore. Kids will turn over rocks, run away from waves, collect shells, and learn about the biology and environmental systems that shape our beaches and coasts.  We want our participants to not be afraid of digging their hands and feet into the sand; feeling the splash of cold salt-water on their faces; appreciating the natural beauty that is all around us; and learning to take care of the natural world upon which we depend.  Each expedition will include a loosely structured lesson followed by child-led exploration and guided experiential learning. 


Geology of the North Shore

field trips to geologically significant destinations

The North Shore is a dynamic and interesting place with a rich natural history that goes back half a billion years. Recorded in the rocks are stories of catastrophic glaciations, violent volcanic eruptions, and massive continental collisions, all of which happened right here in our backyards. Our field trips are guided by an experienced educator with a background in geology and outdoor education, and are designed to stimulate the imagination, and teach students to read the landscape, so that they may begin to understand the history and significance of the rocks beneath their feet. Students will learn how to read topographic maps and to use a compass for basic orienteering and map making. Each young geologist will carry a rock hammer; they will be encouraged to smash as many rocks as they want and simply to have fun being outdoors in the most beautiful natural spaces around -- places that most people don’t even know exist. 

When a child steps into a small community each day, they realize they must work cooperatively with others to survive, celebrate, and improve their community.  This involves critical thinking and intentional exercises in vulnerability and expression of thoughts and feelings in a safe space.  Separation from a large mass of people in a large public school removes the sense of constant competition, and allows kids to work within a smaller community that feels much more safe and comforting.  This type of environment is still fully capable of integrating aspects of traditional academics; in fact, some practices can be more easily accessed without having to compete with so many other children for attention, resources, or success all the time.

Our goal is to explore and develop who the kids really are, and have them get to know one another.  Additionally, it is not only the outdoorsy kids that connect with this model; it is exciting to see which kids open up to it.  For some, this is finally the type of learning experience they have been wanting and needing.  Particularly with respect to the social and emotional components, which are huge, because this audience will value these in cohesion with traditional academics.