Outdoor Education

Outdoor Education - 9th Grade Camping Trip

At Sandy Spring we view Outdoor Education as an integral part of our academic curriculum and an extension of our core values. With 140+ acres of land, our campus offers a variety of outdoor education opportunities—from exploring natural habitats and ecosystems in our pond, to practicing sustainable agriculture on our farm, to hiking and camping in our old-growth forest. Through off-campus trips, we offer experiential, hands-on opportunities to bring the classroom curriculum to life.


Curricular Components of Outdoor Education

Teachers across all three divisions expand learning beyond the traditional four walls. offering age- and developmentally-appropriate outdoor educational opportunities for our students to interact with the natural world, develop outdoor living skills, and become stewards for the environment.

5th grade camping trip - outdoor education

Overnight Trips

Our School introduces outdoor education through overnight signature trips beginning in 4th Grade and continuing through their time in the Upper School. Our core trips are as follows:

  • 4th Grade - On-Campus Overnight
  • 5th Grade - On-Campus Overnight
  • 6th Grade - Sandy Point (2 Days/ 1 Night)
  • 7th Grade - Gettysburg (3 Days/ 2 Nights)
  • 8th Grade - Assateague (3 Days/ 2 Nights)
  • 9th Grade Trip (5 Days/ 3 Nights)
  • 9th-12th Grade - Intersessions (Ranging from 5 to 14 days)

Outdoor Education Courses,  Electives, Clubs, and More!

Each division at SSFS offers several Outdoor Education opportunities, including curriculum units, for-credit courses, electives, and after-school clubs. Examples of some of the outdoor education courses, electives, and clubs include:

Outdoor Education - Leadership

Upper School

Outdoor Leadership Course

Wildflower Identification in US Biology

Farming For Fitness Course

Competitive Rock Climbing  

Hiking and Biking Club

Adventure Park - Outdoor Education

Middle School

Composting and Sustainable Agriculture in the 7th Grade

Stream and Watershed Science Unit in the 6th Grade

Environmental Stewardship Committee

Farming Club

Lower School Rock Climbing

Lower School

Leaf Walk in Kindergarten

Tree Study and Hike in 2nd Grade

Oregon Trail Reenactment (Hiking) in the 4th Grade

Farming Club

Rock Climbing Unit in P.E.

Sandy Spring Friends School provides two all-school events that emphasize the environmental stewardship aspect of our outdoor education—Community Day and Our People, Our Planet Day.


Community Day, a longstanding tradition at SSFS, is a day when when all students, faculty, and staff set aside a day to serve, play, and reflect together. The day begins with a walk to the Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting House, where we have all-school Meeting for Worship. Upon returning to campus, we divide into cross-division "Family Groups" for crafts and bonding time. Then the groups participate in on-campus community service work projects—including farming and trail maintenance— as a part of our commitment to environmental stewardship. After lunch, we gather together again for Morley games and an all-school photo.

Our People, Our Planet Day is a day dedicated to a dual focus of environmental literacy and greater understanding of the unique social, global, and cultural composition of all SSFS community members. Students across all three divisions participate in a variety of environmental stewardship efforts,  including harvesting vegetables from our community farm, testing the water quality of Sandy Spring, to calling and canceling catalogs and junk mail to prevent paper waste.