Outdoor Education at SSFS

Statement of Philosophy:

At Sandy Spring we view Outdoor Education as an integral part of our academic curriculum and an extension of our core values. Our school was made possible by the generous donation from Ester Scott of her family's 140-acre farm. Our campus provides the perfect natural classroom for our students to explore the wonders of nature, and it allows our teachers the freedom to expand learning beyond the traditional four walls. We offer age- and developmentally-appropriate educational opportunities for our students to interact with the natural world, develop outdoor living skills, and become stewards for the environment.

Curricular Components:

Our school introduces 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)

Campus Highlights:

Our wooded campus offers tremendous resources and opportunities for exploring natural habitats and ecosystems as well as providing opportunities for recreational pursuits. Our major campus highlights are:

  • A network of hiking and running trails that also border Montgomery County Parks land
  • A pond/ swimming hole that is used seasonally by our students and our summer camp
  • A natural playground which is used daily by our Lower School students
    North America's largest Aerial Adventure Park
  • A low ropes course featuring eight team-building elements
  • A Community Farm and Garden which provides a portion of the produce for our school lunches
  • A 40-foot high indoor climbing wall that is integrated in all of our PE courses
  • A camping site and fire circle that is used as a meeting place for Outdoor Leadership classes and is the site for our 4th and 5th Grade Overnights.
  • A Solar array which provides a substantial portion of the energy demands for the School's Athletic Center

Courses Offered:

The Upper school offers several for-credit courses under the Outdoor Education umbrella. The length and timing of these courses depend on which division is offering the course and when the course is offered:

Upper School:

  • Outdoor Leadership I (semester length, offered in the fall term)
  • Rock Climbing I (semester length, offered first semester)
  • Rock Climbing II (semester length, offered second semester)
  • Competitive Rock Climbing (trimester length, offered in the winter sport season)