Activities

The Outdoor Learning and Retreat Center is ready to create an awesome experience for your group. We specialize in creating multi day experiences and quality educational programs and that can be tailored to accommodate different ages and group sizes. So whether you are a school group looking for us to lead 3 days worth of educational activities, or a professional group looking for a morning of fun outside before your business meetings, we have something for you.

To keep things simple, we have broken our activities into three core focus areas. These include Outdoor Adventure, Team Dynamics and Leadership Training, and Science and Environmental Education. Our onsite activities run for 1.5 hours and take place on either our Horizon’s Campus or our Mountain Campus. Our offsite activities last between 4 to 5 hours and involve transportation, which we can provide, to a local river, trail, or climbing site. Feel free to mix and match activities from different categories as you like. However, certain activities are unavailable at different time due to weather and logistical restrictions.

For your convenience, we have listed the activities below.


Outdoor Adventure

Equestrian

(extra cost) Camp Horizons Only

Ring Ride

Learn how to steer and stop your horse as you ride around the ring. In this group style lesson, participants will be assigned a horse to ride as an experienced instructor teaches them the fundamentals of horseback riding. Younger participants will have their horses led by and instructor. This activity time also includes a 45-minute horse care lesson where you learn how to brush and feed, as well as basic anatomy of the horse.

Trail Ride

(min age: 10 years) During this group trail ride, participants will first learn to stop and steer their horse before heading out on a leisurely ride around camp

Off Site Day Trips

(extra cost)

Caving

(min age: 4th grade) Head underground during this off-site trip and experience a whole new world. Participants will learn how to use a map and compass, the basics of caving safety, and how caves are formed as they walk and crawl through the cave.

Day Hike

(min age: 4th grade) Head off site with a pack lunch for an age-appropriate day hike in the Shenandoah National Park or George Washington National Forest. *½ day hikes are also available.

NROCKS Canopy Tour

(min age: 7th grade) Spend a day in the trees with this extensive canopy tour course of 12 connected zip lines, 3 sky bridges, and a multitude of tree platforms. Your group will love zipping from tree to tree as they control their own approach, and even get to rappel back to the ground at the end. For more info go to the following link:  https://www.nrocks.com/activities/north-fork-valley-canopy-tour

NROCKS Via Ferrata

(min age: 8th grade) Take your team on a one of a kind climbing adventure. The Via is a combination of fixed anchor professionally guided rock-climbing that takes between 3-5 hours. It is a great way for folks to experience the heights of multi-pitch rock climbing without the technical side of knots and ropes involved. For more info go to the following link: https://www.nrocks.com/activities/via-ferrata/

River Canoeing

(min age: 5th grade) ½ day or full day, canoeing on the river will be a trip every participant remembers. The Shenandoah River provides opportunities for viewing wildlife including Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and maybe the occasional cow. PFD’s are always worn when on the water.

River Tubing

(min age: 5th grade) Lay back and relax as the Shenandoah River does the work for you. This is a great activity during the warmer months and maybe a Bald Eagle will even fly overhead!

Rock Climbing

(min age: 4th grade) Equipped with a harness, helmet, and climbing shoes, each participant will learn safe climbing techniques as they climb up the cliff faces in the George Washington National Forest. With varying levels of climbing routes, everyone will enjoy this activity as they challenge themselves.

Off Site Overnight Trips

(extra cost)

Overnight Backpacking

(min age: 6th grade) Pack up everything you need and spend the day hiking in Shenandoah National Park or George Washington National Forest. As the afternoon ends, set up camp, cook dinner on the camp stove, and enjoy an evening together in nature before heading to your tents for a great night’s sleep! Choose a backpacking trip length appropriate for your group’s needs. We will provide backpacks, tents, cooking supplies, and experienced staff.

Overnight Canoe Trip

(min age: 6th grade) Already experienced a ½ day or full day canoe trip and would like to expand your outdoor skills? On this overnight trip participants will spend the day paddling down the Shenandoah River and then pull off the river for an evening of cooking on the camp stove, games, camp fire stories, and sleeping in tents.

Water Activities on Site

(Seasonal) Camp Horizons Only

Canoeing

Lake Philippa is the perfect setting to learn and practice basic canoeing skills. Participants will learn about canoe safety, paddling techniques, and a lot about teamwork as they paddle around the lake with their partners and play games.

Kayaking

Participants will learn how to paddle a kayak around the lake and will get to put their new moves into practice while playing games.

Lake Free Swim

Put a life jacket on and enjoy swimming in Lake Philippa. Hold on tight as you fly down the zip line or see how fast you can slide down the water slide.

Pool Free Swim

Relax in the reclining pool chairs or jump off the diving board! Everyone loves swim time in the pool. With a depth ranging from a few feet to 9 feet, every participant will feel comfortable.

Wilderness Skills

Archery

Bullseye! Participants will learn how to safely use a bow and arrow and get to practice their shooting skills at stationary targets. *This can be a full or ½ activity block with the addition of field games or another ½ activity.

Fire Building

Tinder, kindling and fuel; participants learn the components needed to build a fire and learn fire safety.  Split into small groups of 2-4, they will then get to put what they have learned into practice. *This can be a full or ½ activity block with the addition of another ½ activity.

Fishing

Fishing pole and bait in hand, participants will spend time fishing in our own lake.

Navigation & Orienteering

Introduction to basic navigation skills using a compass. Participants will learn the parts of a compass as well as an understanding for how they work and why we use them. When everyone has an understanding of how to use a compass, groups will use their compass to find letters to spell out a secret word!

Outdoor Cooking

In today’s day and age not everyone has had the chance to cook over a fire. We make that happen in this tasty class. Students will gather around the fire and take turns making three of our favorite campfire meals with a couple different techniques with each. And of course, no campfire cooking class would be complete with out a marshmallow roast at the end.

Shelter Building

Shelter is the greatest need in outdoor survival! Working in small groups, participants will use sticks and leaves to create shelters that could protect them from the elements. On rainy days the option of using tarps will be available. *This can be a full or ½ activity block with the addition of another ½ activity.


Science & Environmental Education

Environmental Sciences

Adaptations/Camouflage

During this creative class, students will take a closer look at some of their favorite animals and begin to realize what makes them unique are actually behavioral or physical adaptations. The students will then get to demonstrate different adaptations and mimic animals camouflage in the woods.

Instincts of Survival

During this strategic and energetic run-around game, participants play the role of a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore. Participants must collect “food” and “water” to survive and win the game. Depending on which type of animal they are, they must ether capture others or avoid being captured!

Nature Bingo

(Kindergarten thru 1st grade) Whether you are 50 or 5, bingo is fun or all ages. Students will have to explore our forests to complete a natural scavenger hunt to try and be the first student to complete bingo on our nature bingo cards!

Owl Pellet Exploration

Students will explore the adaptations and unique traits that make owls one of the most effective nighttime predators. Students will examine the hunting habits of owls and get to dissect owl pellets to further examine these unique creatures. Students will learn about predator/prey relationships and how humans interact with owls. This activity cost an additional $1 per child for the owl pellets.

Pond/Stream Exploration

With a net, bucket, and identification sheet in hand, participants explore one of the many ponds or creeks around camp. During this activity participants will likely find tadpoles, fish, salamanders, and many macro-invertebrates. This activity can also involve a deeper lesson on water quality.

Skull & Track ID Hike

We will hit the trail and find clues along the way to identify what animals have been buy the area. Just like nature shows and documentaries, we will find foot prints, bones, and fur and other clues that will start us off on a conversation about the animals that are native to the area.

Tree ID & Nature Hike

(4th grade thru 6th grade) During this hike, students will gain a better understanding of the trees and forest around them. They will learn about the different parts of a tree and what you can learn by examining a dead tree. How old it was, the history it has seen, any accidents or natural disasters that the tree survived; just to name a few. Students will also learn to identify several common trees that they might see at home.

Farm & Garden

…Coming Soon!!!

Composting & Waste Management

Students will get the chance to learn about where trash goes when it leaves your house. In this activity, students will dawn aprons and gloves as they dig through the garbage to sort out what should go where. We use this lesson to talk about healthy soils, sustainability and what you can do to help!

Farm Mammals

Come meet the big mammals that call our small farm home! With bottle feeding calves, noisy pigs, and curious goats… we’ve got it all. In this hands on lesson, students will learn about the anatomy and care of our three major farm mammals. Not only will they get the chance to pet and feed each animal, but they will also walk away with an appreciation for just how much work farming can be.

Farms Poultry & Eggs

We aren’t just talking chickens and turkeys here! In this hands on lesson, students will not only get to meet the chickens and turkeys that we have here. They will also meet all the rare birds that we rotate in and out of the farm each week. Rolling pigeons, Indian runner ducks, and the majestic peacock are just a few of the birds that come to visit. We even have a small hatchery on site so you can see what goes into the egg laying process!

Good Bugs & Bad Bugs

Not all bugs are bad, and we are here to prove it. In this lesson, students will get the opportunity to look at the many different types of bugs that can be found in a common garden and just what to think about them. They will learn about symbiotic and parasitic relationships as they make an organic and safe bug repellent out of some common kitchen ingredients. And they will get a chance to meet some good bugs up close as we release a batch in to our local garden plot.

The Life of a Seed

With magnifying glasses in hand we will explore the garden looking at different types of seeds, there immense variety, and how they start the growing process. After exploring we will sit down and read a short story or article related to the life of a seed (relevant to age group) before we plant our own seed to grow in the garden.

Touch & Feel Garden

We will use the garden as a place to explore our senses in this lesson. As we take a more leisurely stroll through the plots, we will let our senses direct us to the interesting adaptations that plants have developed over time. We will see fuzzy leaves designed to deter bugs, we will smell sweet berries that attract helpful birds, and we will taste sweet mint and stevia in our own homemade batch of tea!

Nature Craft

Dream Catchers

Participants will learn the history behind the dream catcher and then learn to make their very own to take home.

Tie Dye

Spiral, stripes, and technicolor! Each participant will get to fold and dye their own shirt to take home with them. We provide the dye and instruction and participants provide their own white clothing item.


Team Dynamics & Leadership

Evening Program (extra cost)

(extra cost)

Campfire Program (songs/skits)

During this traditional evening program, participants will enjoy a s’more, join in with call and response style camp songs, and laugh along to funny camp skits.

Dutch Auction

Everyone loves a good Dutch Auction. Group Leaders will be asked to act as judges as groups of participants use their creativity, acting skills, and items they have on hand to create anything from “a funky hat” to a skit about their favorite book.

Field Games

Anything from buddy tag and capture the flag, to gaga and kick ball, participants will enjoy a mix of active games during this activity. Games will be chosen to best fit the group and their interests.

Minute to Win It

Participants will race against each other and the clock to complete challenges and gain points for their team!

Movie Night

Sit back, relax, and kick off your shoes after a busy day of activities. We will set up a projector and popcorn machine. All you need to do is bring your favorite movie.

Night Hike

With only the moon and the stars lighting the way, participants will use their night vision to set off on a hike around camp. During this hike, a participants will learn about rods and cones, night creatures, and triboluminescence.

Personal Challenge Course

Afton Medium Ropes

(MC) This is the perfect experience for younger grades as they get comfortable in a harness and with heights. This course is 8ft off the ground

Appalachian High Ropes Course

(MC) Min age: 8th grade) Head up into the sky and be challenged as two participants work together to make their way around this high ropes course.

Massanutten High Ropes Course

(CH) (min age: 5th Grade) Try out our improved high ropes experience! From the “Postman’s Walk” to the “Pirates Crossing”, participants will get to navigate their way through several elements before flying down the zipline.

Shenandoah High Ropes Course

(CH) (min age: 5th Grade) Combining team work and individual growth, the Shenandoah course encourages trust and perseverance. Following Challenge By Choice practices, participants try out individual elements while their teammates belay them from below.

Personal Challenge Elements

Climbing Wall

Reach new heights on our 40ft climbing tower. Using harnesses, ropes, and the belay system, participants may enjoy the beginner wall, the challenge of the overhang, or the fun of the cargo net and moving structures on the play pen side.

Flying Squirrel

(max age 3rd grade) Attached to the end of a rope, the participant sets off running at the same moment their team mates start pulling the other end of the rope. The participant is lifted off the ground up to 20’ as they fly upwards just like Peter Pan. This is a great element for young participants and helps them build up to other high adventure activities.

Giant Swing

(min age: 4th grade) Harnessed in and attached to metal cables, one participant is pulled high into the air by their teammates. When ready, the participant releases them self and is sent swinging back and forth.

Giant’s Ladder

(min age: 5th grade) Done in pairs, the Giant’s Ladder is a powerful partner-team tool. Imagine a wide ladder with large wooden rungs. Each step gets progressively bigger, from three to six feet apart. Participants find out quickly how important it is to help each other and that their success depends on their teammate.

Leap of Faith

(min age: 5th grade) While on belay, participants will climb to the top of a telephone pole where they will be challenged to stand on top. What comes next is the “Leap of Faith”; with encouragement from their team mates they will jump off the pole and high five the ball suspended in the air.

Zip Line

(min age: 5th grade) Participants will push their personal boundaries as they climb up towards the zip platform. Once at the platform, participants will slide off and zoom down the 400ft zipline!

Team Building

Field Games

Anything from buddy tag and capture the flag, to gaga and kick ball, participants will enjoy a mix of active games during this activity. Games will be chosen to best fit the group and their interests.

Field Initiatives

Using portable games and team building activities, groups will learn communication, planning, and team work while completing challenges and solving problems. With outcomes similar to the Team Building Course, this is a great choice during inclement weather or shorter activity times as they can be completed inside.

Team Building Course

(min age: 4th grade) Using prebuilt elements such as the Birthday Beam, Whale Watch, and Toxic Waste, participants will be challenged to complete a task. Some tasks have physical challenges while some require great planning and cooperation. An instructor will lead your group through challenges that fit your group and meet your needs.

Total Team Cooperative Challenges

Groups will be given tasks that need planning, communication, and strategic thinking to complete. Examples of cooperative challenges are building a spaghetti tower, egg drop, or building a cardboard boat that can hold up during its journey across the lake.