Archived Articles

Education Coordinator, Tricia Biles, Represents at International Conference

Tricia Biles, Education Coordinator and Senior Trainer for Echo Hill Outdoor School, represented EHOS recently at the Association for Experiential Education’s International Conference in Denver, Colorado. Tricia’s workshop, From Words to Actions, Innovations for a Mission-Focused Team, engaged participants in a ninety-minute, experiential professional development session.

Embracing her strong passion for mission-based professional training and development, Tricia designed creative, thought-provoking exercises, which facilitated personal growth for all attendees. The session was inspired by Echo Hill Outdoor School’s deep commitment to a mission-focused workplace and years of experience leading seasonal staff trainings.

“The helium hoop activity, an experience in unity and perseverance, spoke volumes to this group. One participant said that she plans to use that activity with her Board of Directors. As hula hoops are not props well suited to air travel, I was pleased that I made the effort to borrow the hoops from a schoolteacher in Denver. Walking through the hotel lobby carrying a bunch of brightly colored hula hoops, even at an AEE conference, was an unusual sight. I drew many smiles and made a few friends.”

While at the three-day conference, Tricia participated in three other workshops. One full day was spent alongside Karl Rhonke, an industry forefather and author of many of the enduring games and activities that are a staple of our Echo Hill Outdoor School program in adventure education. Karl’s workshop examined the role of fun in the student experience and introduced many interactive, whimsical pastimes.

In Tricia’s words, “Working with Karl for a full day was a true gift. I enjoyed his stories, sense of fun, and industry perspective.”

Your Voice, Your Story was the topic of the keynote address given by Hilary Blair, a professional voice coach and CEO of ARTiculate in Denver, CO. Her keynote speech and subsequent workshop offered powerful insights and practice in meaningful public speaking.

A third workshop, entitled Social Justice in 3D, where issues of social identity were explored from many perspectives, rounded out Tricia’s conference experience. Says Tricia, “This is where the advantage of an international conference was most apparent for me. It was enlightening to explore social justice issues with such a diverse group of people.”

Tricia’s presentation at the AEE conference aligned with the conclusion of her practicum in school leadership. Tricia completed her practicum here at Echo Hill Outdoor School. Now a recent graduate from Wilmington University, Tricia holds a Masters of Education in School Leadership.

Betsy McCown awarded Kent County's Business Leader of the Year

"Betsy” Z. McCown, Associate Director of Echo Hill Outdoor School, recently received the Kent County Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year Award at the Chamber’s 42nd Annual Excellence in Business Awards Program. Held in the beautifully renovated Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown, the event honored those business, civic and non-profit leaders who have made significant impacts on their community through their innovation, creativity and hard work.

The Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year Award is given to a Chamber business principal or officer who has displayed solid leadership in setting the positive direction of his/her company, and has maintained integrity, professionalism and vision within the free enterprise system of our region. Betsy was recognized for her creativity and leadership in bringing individuals and families from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to Kent County. She oversees all daily operations of the business, professional training and development of personnel, and the yearly calendar of attending schools and groups, all the while maintaining a high standard of quality programming, integrity and professionalism. For the third year in a row, despite the economic downturn, she has maintained operations at capacity level, bringing over 5,500 student-participants of all ages from more than 180 schools and other organizations to Kent County for 1 to 5-day outdoor education programs. Her personal involvement with each client organization and her ability to foster a sense of community ensures the custom design of each program.

Formed in 1972 overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on the Bloomingneck Farm in Worton, Echo Hill is now celebrating its 40th anniversary of providing quality outdoor education and learning experiences for students in environmental and ecological science, individual and group development and history and the human environment. Echo Hill Outdoor School has been recognized as one of the most unique and innovative outdoor schools in the East and enjoys a solid reputation with students, parents and educators alike, in Kent County and throughout the region.

Please join us in congratulating the Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year, Betsy McCown of Echo Hill Outdoor School!

Welcome back Captain Nick!

After an eight year hiatus, Nicholas Biles, captain & shipwright, returns to his roots at Echo Hill Outdoor School.

Nick Biles first encountered Echo Hill Outdoor School as a third grade student in 1973. His school, New Horizons Montessori, was one of the first schools to attend the newly formed Outdoor School. Nick had such a positive experience that when his family moved to the area in 1976 his mother made certain that Nick and his brother and sister attended Echo Hill Camp. Through the camp Nick gained a wealth of experience as he grew from a camper to a counselor. During his high school years Nick became more involved with Echo Hill Outdoor School assisting with the overnight care of students in residence, often doing his homework on the tent side. In 1990 Nick joined the Outdoor School’s staff as a leader of Explore trips.

In 1991 Nick returned from college with a degree in geography and a captain’s license. He officially became Captain Nick, also known as Ol’ Leatherback to his good friend and mentor, Andrew McCown. Over the years Nick has held a variety of positions at Echo Hill: waterfront director, captain, teacher, site manager and even general contractor as the Outdoor School built Big Marsh Inn, the school’s ten-bedroom, staff housing unit. It was at Echo Hill Outdoor School that Nick met his wife, Tricia, who also works for the school as the Education Coordinator.

Eight years ago Nick left Echo Hill Outdoor School to pursue his passion for boatbuilding full-time. Working with master shipwright John Swain, Nick developed his skills as a shipwright. Swain Boatbuilders provided Nick with rich opportunities for traditional wooden boatbuilding and restoration. Even as a full time employee with Swain Boatbuilders Nick always found a way to stay connected to the Outdoor School through contracted boat work and serving as a relief captain when needed.

Now Nick has returned full time. In his own words:

“I am excited to “come back home” to Echo Hill Outdoor School where I can get back out on the Chesapeake; teaching, sailing, and, of course, messin’ about with wooden boats.”

Meet Tim Smedick, Echo Hill’s new Director of Philanthropy

Tim recently joined the staff of Echo Hill School as Director of Philanthropy. A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Tim followed friends and family into the insurance business after graduating from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in business, ultimately rising to Director of Banking Services. His volunteer stint with a Gettysburg, PA non-profit led to a career opportunity in fund raising consulting where he managed successful capital campaigns for churches, hospitals, libraries and other non-profit organizations throughout the United States. He parlayed his business management and fund raising experience with a lifelong love of history to become Director of Development and then Executive Director of a Pennsylvania based, historic preservation advocacy organization, helping to raise funds for and preserving a number of important historic structures. He will manage a variety of fund raising efforts for the Outdoor School including the 40th Anniversary Legacy Campaign in 2012. A National History Day Judge, Tim also enjoys sports, the ocean, Chesapeake Bay, visiting historic sites, and is an American Civil War enthusiast. When at Echo Hill, Tim stays with close relatives in Worton. He calls Lancaster, PA home where he resides with wife Linda and college student son, Matt.




Boat Birthday Party Highlights

Echo Hill’s Miss Honey Hangs Up Her Full Time Apron - October 24, 2010 by John Mann for The Chestertown Spy

Field Guide: Farmville - September 7, 2010 by John Mann for The Chestertown Spy

Spy Profile: Captain Andrew of Echo Hill - September 1, 2010 by Dave Wheelan of The Chestertown Spy

Saving the Buy Boat Annie D (PDF) - August 20, 2010

3rd Annual Dragonfly Camp - August 9, 2010 The Chestertown Spy

On the Annie D. (PDF) - April 1, 2010 by Wendy Costa for Chesapeake Bay Magazine

Twilight article - March 6, 2010 The Chestertown Spy

Walter and Dolly Harris article (PDF)

Kent County Students article (PDF) - October 12, 2009

Community Paddle a Success article (PDF) - September 21, 2009, by: John Mann

Echo Hill Outdoor School (PDF) - Chesapeake Times, March 2009

Echo Hill Outdoor School aims to connect its students with nature - Middletown Transcript, January 15, 2009

Learning Life's Lessons In The Great Outdoors (PDF) - Washington College Magazine, Fall 1992