About Our Curriculum

Each class focuses on at least one curriculum area. In class students focus on specific content and information such as understanding food chains, time lines, the process of succession, and community. Our classes offer important insight into concepts and information learned in the traditional educational setting. Students make connections between their field observations and years of classroom learning. The residential program, together with our curriculum, helps to form a cumulative learning experience where students are fully immersed in the outdoors, as they grow socially and academically.

At the Outdoor School we provide academic information and a positive experience in the outdoors. Classes are taught from a non-biased perspective. Our classes and residential experiences enhance the nature of our curriculum which is designed to improve thinking, strengthen citizenship, empower students to make informed decisions, and increase students' awareness of themselves and the surrounding environment.

Echo Hill Outdoor School lessons and activities support the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum.

Science and Ecology

Creating awareness about the natural environment was the School's original mission and remains the focus of many of its classes. Classes such as Sensory Exploration of the Environment, Swamp Canoe, and Survival take place in the field, forest, bay, beach, or swamp, and they provide opportunities for students to know the world of nature and science first hand. On Bay Studies, students can catch living organisms and piece together different parts of the food chain.

Science and Ecology classes focus on specific information about particular ecosystems, such as the effect of wetlands on the Bay's water quality. The classes also address broader environmental concepts such as natural succession, nutrient cycling, and adaptation. These classes promote students' environmental awareness, their understanding of scientific and ecological principles, and their insight into how humans interact with the environment. Hands-on experiences involve students, fuel their curiosity, and give them a concrete introduction to often abstract scientific ideas and procedures.


Activities on Science and Ecology classes involve students in the following types of exploration: examining water quality; sifting through bottom samples; using sense of touch on a nature walk through the forest; studying fish, insects, crustaceans, and other animals; making dyes from natural materials; planting in the garden; feeding barnyard animals; tending to a compost pile; participating in scavenger hunts on the beach; canoeing through the swamp; using a map and compass; and learning about night vision and the night sky.

Science and Ecology Classes Include

History and Human Environment

History is rich on Maryland's Eastern Shore and a valuable part of Echo Hill Outdoor School's curriculum. In close proximity to Echo Hill a variety of opportunities exist for students to explore folklore, traditions on the water, and ever-changing agricultural practices. Hands-on investigations, personal interviews, and creative critical thought provide exciting approaches to learning about history and society. Students make their own personal connections to the communities they are studying. These classes allow students to discover that history is about real people, ideas, events, and cultures-students develop a sense of value for history.

The Mystery Tour class exemplifies this curriculum area. Students venture into the surrounding community to explore locations such as buildings from early townships, a country auction, or colonial churchyards. Students are asked to uncover clues about the past, observe how humans affect and change the environment, examine the intricacies of the present designed environment, and ponder the future. Students often discover the importance of seemingly commonplace things and reexamine their perceptions about people, places, and the past.


Activities on these classes involve students in the following types of exploration: milking a cow at a family-owned dairy; digging for artifacts at a Native American site; working with clay or making stone tools; exploring local historic towns; and interviewing a diverse selection of people about their occupations and life in a rural community.

History and the Human Environment classes include

Individual and Group Development

Living and learning in the outdoors creates tremendous opportunities for personal and social growth. On all classes and in all aspects of residential life, Echo Hill teachers encourage students to pursue independence while recognizing the importance of the group. Teachers stress the importance of the following skills: working together on class; expressing opinions with confidence; listening to and respecting classmates' ideas; thinking creatively; having a positive attitude; and taking personal responsibility in the dining hall and tent areas.

Adventure classes are a major component of the Individual and Group Development curriculum. These classes take place on our Adventure Challenge course, which includes a variety of low and high elements. The adventure curriculum progresses from an initial focus on group dynamics to individual challenges. Low elements and problem solving initiatives such as Lily Pads, The Wall, and All Aboard improve communication, establish trust, explore team roles, and create self-awareness. High elements such as the Zip Line, Giant Swing, Pathfinder, and Alpine Tower focus on personal responsibility, accountability, self-confidence, and team support. Students take lessons learned from Echo Hill adventure classes and apply them anywhere: displaying patience and cooperation while at Echo Hill; reaching academic goals back at school; and setting positive examples for family at home.

At the foundation of the adventure curriculum is the maxim "Challenge by Choice." This provides a safe environment in which participants may express themselves, make choices, and pursue goals with support from their peers. Echo Hill instructors take responsibility to treat students with respect, care, and compassion, to ensure a safe experience, and to encourage positive interactions among participants.

Individual and Group Development classes include