Outdoor and Environmental EducationInstructional Programs → Residential Programs

Residential Hiking In

Grade 6 Residential Program

Sixth graders at each middle school in MCPS participate in a three-day, two-night residential outdoor environmental education program. While in residence, students study various aspects of the local environment as they participate in outdoor investigations that are directly connected to the grade six curriculum and the MSDE environmental education standards. Students are accompanied by their teachers, who, in collaboration with an OEEP staff member, provide instruction and supervision during their stay.


Watch video in Spanish  Programa de Educación Ambiental al Aire Libre

Sites and Accommodations

Depending on the size of the student body and schedule, schools will visit one of three environmental education sites for their residential program. The LE Smith Center is an MCPS facility operated for MCPS students by MCPS staff. In addition, each year we contract with two additional sites that are privately owned. Although they are privately owned, MCPS teachers conduct the program the entire time MCPS students are attending the Residential program. Contact your school to learn which site your school has been assigned.


During their stay, students participate in a variety of lessons and activities that support the Montgomery County Public Schools curriculum. Instruction focuses on environmental studies and science while integrating math, reading, world studies, and physical education. Each school determines its own instructional schedule and classes. Generally, students will participate in four to five of the lessons listed below as well as evening activities. Classes are led by staff from the school and the outdoor environmental educator.

Lesson Options

Stream/Pond Investigation  Students investigate the complex interactions within the local watershed and work in groups to assess the health of a nearby stream or pond.
Exploring the Watershed Using Map and Compass

Working in groups, students conduct a field survey of the surrounding forest and riparian buffers in the local watershed using maps and compasses for navigation.

Confidence Course Students participate in a series of mentally and physically challenging team and individual events designed to strengthen teamwork, cooperation and self-esteem.
Predator/Prey Relationships    Students explore the predator-prey relationships that animals exhibit in our local ecosystem by participating in an outdoor simulation.
Student Service Learning (SSL)

Students participate in an environmental SSL lesson during the outdoor environmental education program. Topics for the stewardship lessons include habitat improvement, energy conservation, and protecting natural resources.
Patterns of Settlement   Working in groups, students collect environmental and geographic data to decide which location has the best settlement potential by using GPS units to navigate to several assigned locations. 
Site History Lessons 

Lessons and resources for a variety of historical events from the outdoor education sites.
Treasure Earth  Working in groups, students will collect data on our natural resources through geocaching.
Evening Activities   Instruction does not end when the sun goes down! After dinner students participate in various outdoor and indoor activities determined by the school.
Lessons for back at school This document contains links for potential instructional materials to be used to support the onsite instruction in the school building during the Outdoor Education program.