Getting outside is important for a litany of reasons, regardless of how old you are. Research shows that people that engage with the outdoors on a regular basis aren’t only happier and healthier, but they’re also better learners, to boot.
So, naturally, it only makes sense that outdoor schools have been enjoying a strong second wind in popularity these past few years. And Texas, it seems, is swept-up in that gust.
Here are the best outdoor school programs currently holding strong in the Lone Star State:
The Outdoor School Education Program is the perfect compliment (or complete substitution) to curriculums conducted in traditional classrooms. Meant to accommodate students who are in grades 4-12, their programs incorporate both academic and “adventure-based” tracts that all, for the most part, revolve around good ol’ Mother Nature.
Better yet, all courses are TEKS correlated and uniquely designed to foster students’ appreciation for how the outdoors plays a role in learning – in or outside a traditional classroom.
Perched alongside postcard-worthy Lake Tyler, Camp Tyler sits on 400 acres of forest, prairie, and meadow. Like all the best outdoor learning programs, Camp Tyler and clan believe that the outdoor learning experiences set in au naturale environments are as critical to a person’s education as the subject matter, themselves.
Classroom teachers and group leaders aim to individualize learning experiences as much as possible. Students can choose between multiple day and overnight stays to maximize the impact of your visit to Camp Tyler. The programs, too, focus on STAAR prep and are TEKS aligned—so you can rest easy knowing your tike, driving-age or not, will score higher on those state-implemented standardized tests.
Located in wild-and-weird Austin, Earth Native Wilderness School is an outdoor school that teaches young and old alike the skills and know-hows to fully embrace the woods (and more). They offer youth and adult courses, ranging in subjects from “Wilderness Survival” and “Bushcraft Skills” to “Wildlife Tracking” and “Native Plant Identification and Use.” Students can also opt to learn about indigenous skill sets and history, and even how to make an
Learn Indigenous skills like “Natural Clay Pottery,” “Natural Basketry,” “Traditional Bow and Arrow Making,” Flintknapping and so much more! For those, truly, looking for a no-frills, straightforward way to learn the ins-and-outs of the natural world around us, look no further.
Outward Bound Collective is one the most prolific outdoor programs in the nation—and their Texas Big Bend Educator is a favorite among many. Outdoorsmen (and women) who choose to embark on the educational odyssey, which spans over 50 days, can expect to learn all the tools and trick on how to master the Texas wilderness…and beyond. From the heart of Big Bend’s deserts and canyon landscapes to the Rio Grande’s water worlds, the course will surely expand your mastery of wilderness techniques.
Learn about canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing, rappelling and first aid, while simultaneously exploring group dynamics, experiential education theory and methods, and wilderness activity management. This course, also, encourages students to act as educators within their class, as well, helping peers who may be struggling; it’s all about teamwork.
After sponging-up all that outdoor knowledge, consider checking out some of our favorite Hipcamps in the state.
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