About the Campus
Echo Hill Outdoor School is located on the upper Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Echo Hill's 70-acre campus is situated near the heart of the 350-acre Bloomingneck Farm, a working Maryland Century Farm owned by the Harris family.
The campus consists of open fields, hardwood forests, freshwater marshes, and a mile of sandy beach. The property is abundant with wildlife and provides ideal outdoor laboratories for ecological studies. The Outdoor School also owns 172 acres of "The Big Marsh" which borders the campus. The Big Marsh is a freshwater shrub swamp protected by the Nature Conservancy.
Educational Facilities and Extended Campus
In addition to these ecosystems, the School's educational facilities include a barnyard, a recycling center, an organic garden, a Native American site, and a fleet of historic wooden Chesapeake work boats. Our extensive Adventure Challenge course features low and high elements and an Alpine Tower. The School also conducts classes and programs off campus in the towns of Rock Hall, Galena and Chestertown as well as the waters of the Chester and Sassafras rivers and the Still Pond Creek area of the upper bay. Our extended classrooms include the farms and farmland of the rural countryside and all the private landowners and merchants who regularly open their doors and hearts to our curious students.
Residential Life at the Outdoor School
Life at the Outdoor School is rustic but comfortable. Platform tents with bunk beds house students and staff in most seasons. Bathrooms and showers with hot and cold water are nearby. A heated lodge serves as a meeting place, library, and nature center. Meals are prepared by the School's cook and served family-style by Echo Hill teachers in a spacious outdoor dining hall-a large 19th century screened gazebo with seating for 200 people. The resource office is central to the campus and overlooks the Bay from the top of a highbluff.
The School has heated facilities for use during colder weather. Two dormitories and a dining hall are situated in the forest and become headquarters for late-fall, winter, and early-spring residential programs. This dining hall seats 100 and also houses administrative offices. The dorms are equipped with bunks, showers, common rooms, and fireplaces. Eeach dorm can accommodate 40 people.
The Big Marsh Nature Preserve
In 1981, The Nature Conservancy, the nation's largest land conservation organization, deeded 172 acres of "The Big Marsh" to the Outdoor School. The Big Marsh is a 600-acre fresh water wetland adjacent to the School's main campus. The property consists of a rare combination of marsh, shrub-swamp, peat bogs, and hardwood forest. The School's property features a walking trail through the heart of the swamp to the peat bogs where canoes become the mode of transportation. The Big Marsh property is utilized as a wetlands science and ecology classroom and maintained by the School as a wildlife preserve.
Students on Swamp Canoe class walk the trail to the canoe landing where they venture through the bogs aboard a trimaran canoe to study the unique system. Students on Swamp Walk classes immerse themselves in a denser section of the swamp, wading through, smelling, and feeling the mud while seeing the plants and animals at eye level.
The Big Marsh is inhabited by diverse animal life-beaver, snakes, frogs, turtles, and dragonflies to name a few. Flora ranges from oaks and swamp maples to cattails and water lilies. This unique environment is also home to some rare and endangered plant species.