Sandy Spring Friends School



Outdoor Education is 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 of the environment.

Outdoor education in middle school, students putting up a tent in a Maryland state park.

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 (Two Days/ One Night)
  • 7th Grade - Gettysburg (Three Days/ Two Nights)
  • 8th Grade - Assateague (Three Days/ Two Nights)
  • 9th Grade - Ninth Grade Trip (Five Days/ Three Nights)
  • 9th-12th Grade - Intersessions (Ranging from five 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:

Elementary school student engaging in outdoor education by 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.


Middle School student engaging in outdoor education at the Sandy Spring Adventure Park

Middle School

  • Composting and Sustainable Agriculture in the 7th Grade
  • Stream & Watershed Science in the 6th grade
  • Environmental Stewardship Committee
  • Farming Club
Outdoor education through the Upper School outdoor leadership course, students hiking & backpacking

Upper School

  • Wildflower Identification in US Biology
  • Farming For Fitness Course
  • Competitive Rock Climbing  
  • Rock Climbing Elective
  • Hiking and Biking Club


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.