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Since 1967, we have provided outdoor education to thousands of school groups. At Ashokan, we believe that students learn best through rich hands-on experiences in nature, history, music and art. This holistic approach inspires students to make deeper interdisciplinary connections they bring back to their classrooms that can often spark lifelong learning. From the moment students arrive, we initiate community building activities that are built into the very fabric of a shared Ashokan trip experience. Our beautiful 385 acre preserve provides the ideal environment for inquiry, reflection and growth. Students can embark into scientific investigations in the natural world, participate in living history classes and colonial crafts, tackle our ropes and challenge courses, and even learn new songs. Through our food waste program, we help students consider how their daily behaviors can have an impact in their world. It is no wonder that schools return year after year!

Environmental Science Programs

Our traditional environmental science classes have been redesigned into a variety of student investigations of our pond, creek, and forest to inspire deeper conceptual learning embedded in the NYS Science Learning Standards. Students discover and identify indicator species to help determine the health of our waterways, investigate invasive species to discover their impact on our ecosystems, and engage in watershed inquiry using tools such as our new underwater drone, augmented reality sandbox projector, and exploratory hike to our enchanting Cathedral Gorge.  View Science Programs in our catalog.

Virtual Field Trips

Eight new Virtual Field Trip offerings have expanded outreach and enabled us to reach a wider community. Each hour-long online class is aligned with the NYS Learning Standards and is enhanced by a cinematic “in the field” video segment, interactive activities, and a Q&A component. The trips include Pond & Stream Investigations, Forest Mysteries Revealed, Power of Pollinators, Rescued Birds of Prey, Explore & Draw, Tap the Sap! Maple Sugaring Science & History, and Climate Science: Evidence to Action. Programs are tailored to grade 3-7 but can be adapted for all ages. So far, students from more than 60 schools have participated in our Virtual Field Trips! Click here to learn more and schedule a virtual trip! (Can be paired with an in-person trip or booked separately.

Indigenous & Diversity Programs

We’re working to develop more inclusive programs with guidance from Indigenous leaders and local educators of color, to enable our diverse students to see themselves positively represented and to strengthen our history programs for all students. This includes a new program devoted to local Black History, bringing to life historic accounts like those found in the book In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831. Planning for Indigenous education programs has also begun, with the updating of our local Maple Sugaring history lesson and new construction of a native wigwam structure near the Esopus Creek. View History Programs in our catalog.

Resources and PD for Teachers

We now offer optional PD for teachers either in zoom, in person at Ashokan during your multi-day trip, or in your classroom if you’re within 40 miles of our campus. PLUS, pre and post-visit curriculum resources for to support teachers and get students engaged!

In-School Visit from Ashokan Instructors

If you are located within 40 miles of the Ashokan Center, we are beginning to offer in-person visits with a hands-on activity to spark inquiry right in your classroom. More info coming soon.

Themed Day or Residential trips at Ashokan

Soon, visiting schools will have the option of choosing from a variety of pre-designed, theme-based trips for deeper conceptual learning in Living History, Ecosystem Studies, Biomimicry, Adventure, Team Building and more. Traditional build-your-own trips will also remain available by choosing from our catalog.

More questions? Reach out to our program staff directly:

Dan Shornstein Director of Education

Sample Day at The Ashokan Center

Sample Day at The Ashokan Center

Arrive:When a student steps foot on The Ashokan Center’s beautiful campus, instructors are waiting to help them unload their luggage. The instructors then lead the new group to an opening circle where they take turns introducing themselves and sharing a fun fact. Afterwards, the instructors help the students move into their bunkhouse and prepare for their first meal. On each arrival day instructors meet with teachers to gather pertinent medical and behavioral information. During this time, the students enjoy an orientation meeting.

Pre-Breakfast Activity: Before breakfast, students have the opportunity to participate in an instructor-lead morning ritual such as a short hike, tending to the barn animals, or writing in their journals. (45 minutes)

Program Classes: Instructors lead 1.5 hours long classes with students. One class is offered on arrival and departure day, 3 classes are taught on day 2 of trip. Instructors are responsible for one group of 8 to 12 students at a time.

Meals: On a rotating basis, instructors act as “Instructors of the Day.” These instructors are responsible for running all meals that day, making announcements to the student body and overseeing set-up and cleanup of the dining hall. A game involving measuring food waste and discussing composting introduces ideas and concepts of sustainability.

Open Recreation: This (supervised) block of time allows students to have social and self-care time. Activities include playing in our athletic field, resting in the bunkhouse, journaling in our inspirational woods or pastures. The teachers supervise the bunkhouse and the rec field is supervised by Ashokan instructors. Open Recreation is 45 minutes to 1 hour long.

Evening Program: Teachers choose evening programs (in advance of their class’s arrival to Ashokan) that will complement the day programs. On occasion, Ashokan instructors are responsible for running an evening program. This includes night hikes, skits and songs and campfires.

Night Reading and Bunk Supervision: Ashokan instructors supervise the students at night in the bunkhouse. Bunk supervisors, who reside in the bunkhouse with the students, read communally to the students before bedtime. If you are bunk supervisor for the night, you are responsible for the students until pre-breakfast activity the following morning. Instructors can expect to act as bunk supervisor at least once a week.

Friday Meetings: At the end of the week the entire program staff comes together to debrief the week. Feedback is recorded for next year’s trip and the following weeks school and schedule is discussed. This is also a chance for instructors to give “shout-outs” to co-instructors.