Texas is remarkable for the number of landscapes that it carries within its territory. Those who visit can find everything from picturesque lakes, vast forests and stunning beaches. If there is one place that is perfect for getting an outdoor education, it’s the Lone Star State.
With so many outdoor activities to do, Texas is an ideal place to encourage your children’s love for nature and allow them to enjoy some real hands-on activities. These top-rated outdoor education schools are some of the best in the state.
Address: 775 Camp Rd, Marble Falls, TX 78654
Type: Day & Overnight
Just over an hour away from Austin, you can find Lake LBJ and the heart of The Outdoor School and Champions retreat. Focused on outdoor appreciation, environmental stewardship, and learning by doing, TOS strives to facilitate quality character skills for all campers.
With customized selections, TOS aligns its outdoor curriculum with the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills state standards (TEKS). An opportunity to spend time at The Outdoor School means your child is better prepared for the STAAR assessment at the end of the school year.
Students spend anywhere from one night to one week at TOS, where there are plenty of amazing outdoor courses to choose from. As part of a team-building experience, campers can start their adventure on a humungous pirate ship rope course with over fifteen different climbing elements.
Additionally, children can enjoy maneuvering rock climbing walls, zip lines, and a variety of high ropes and low ropes courses. In the adventure course, kids can enjoy hands-on learning in archery, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing, as well as orienteering and survival skills.
There are also academic courses for math, science, and history. Whether it’s archeological and water conservation studies or discovering the height of a tall tree, students get to explore investigative topics that focus on critical thinking, as well as logical and deductive reasoning. For the more creatively inclined, there are nature journaling and art classes.
Likewise, students can participate in a variety of nighttime activities such as constellation tours, dance parties, and even movie nights. Traditional campfire activities like S’mores and sing-alongs are also part of the package.
Of course, the best opportunity is the chance to explore the historical caves at Enchanted Rock, where your child can climb this 425-foot pink granite batholith. Once at the top, they’ll discover the hidden cave entrance and take a tour of the cave’s interior.
Address: 723 Olympia Dr, Trinity, TX 75862
Type: Day & Overnight
Whether day trip or night, kids can explore the vast Camp Olympia located in splendid East Texas on the banks of Lake Livingston. The program’s curriculum is not only TEKS aligned but also taught by former Houston ISD-certified educators. Students in grades 4th to 12th can participate in their outdoor education program, while those in 7th-12th can also join a leadership program.
Campers get to dig into hands-on learning activities in the forest and aquatic ecology, conservation, land navigation, and gardening. Plus, all the traditional summer camp activities are available, including horseback riding, canoeing, archery, fishing, an obstacle course, a zip line, and a rock climbing wall.
There’s also plenty of game time for sports lovers with basketball, tennis, soccer, football, and baseball fields, as well as a swimming pool. There’s even a miniature golf course, ping pong tables, and an outdoor chapel.
For overnight campers, cabins sleep groups of up to 20 and offer modern amenities with heating and cooling. Day trips are also available for those not interested in an extended stay. There is a 1:10 staff-to-student ratio.
Address: 119 E Craig Pl, San Antonio, TX 78212
The Keystone School is a private school located in San Antonio, TX which focuses on outdoor education as well as academic excellence for all of its students.
Each year, students in grade 4 and onwards have the opportunity to participate in a field trip designed to allow them to explore the world through science, historical sites, and outdoor activities.
Younger children stay closer to home with trips to Government Canyon, the Natural Bridge Caverns, or other spots within Texas. But from grades 8 and above, students go on camping trips in far-flung places like Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks, the Florida Wetlands, and Washington, DC.
The specific curriculum and activities vary depending on where they go, but these once-in-a-lifetime trips will be at the core of your kids’ childhood memories. They allow them to grow closer with their classmates and learn how to be independent and self-reliant.
Address: 2270 Copper Canyon Road, Argyle, Texas, 76226
Grades: Pre-K – 12th
Type: Private School
Selwyn School is a non-sectarian private school located in the Dallas area that focuses on experiential learning and project-based activities. Outdoor education is part of the school’s daily learning regimen. Students receive daily instruction and engage in gardening, recycling, and sustainable ecosystems.
Additionally, each year through their Perspectives Travel Program, students take part in outdoor learning adventures. Beginning in second grade, students go on an overnight camping trip on school grounds. Teamwork is a huge part of the program, so kids get to work on their social skills while forming strong bonds with their classmates.
Third and fourth-grade students experience a three-day camping trip to Sky Ranch, while fifth graders go on an excursion to Camp Grady Spruce. During middle school years, students explore the ocean, desert, and other landscapes. High school students partake in phenomenal adventures exploring different cultures and areas of the world.
Address: 1000 Hays Country Acres Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Ages: 6 weeks – 6 years
Type: Private Daycare & Pre-School
Located near Austin, Havenwood Nature School is specifically designed with younger children in mind. They are a premiere educational daycare and preschool facility with a passion for environmental education. Children explore a multitude of tactile learning activities through nature, animal care, botanical exploration, and gardening.
Children can attend two, three, or five days a week from 7:30 am to 6 pm. f you have a love for Mother Nature that you hope to cultivate within your child, there’s no better starting point than Havenwood Nature.
With a STEAM education approach, the outdoor school can help improve grades in math, science, art, and more while also providing them with a confidence boost and other life skills.
Address: Nash Hernandez Senior Road, Austin, TX, 78702
Type: Custom Trips
Located near the center of Austin, Expedition School is a professional guide service that caters to all ages. Teachers and parents simply gather the kids, choose activities for them to do, and they’ll handle the rest. They can take them on fun journeys through hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and much more.
Whether you’re planning a family excursion, boy scout/girl scout trip, or a school field trip, young campers can expect an exciting time. Apart from the above, there are also thrilling activities like zip lining, low ropes courses, canoeing, and kayaking. It’s one of the more unique outdoor programs, as it’s entirely up to you and your party on what happens.
You can also book private adventures and even sign up for camps. Safety is one of their top priorities, so you can enjoy their programs under the careful supervision of highly experienced outdoor guides.