Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Reasons to Love Hemlock Overlook

On the last day of school, my son’s fifth grade class visited Hemlock Overlook Regional Center (aka Camp Hemlock), a Northern Virginia Regional Park with a unique program.  The park is an outdoor education center that teaches about the ecosystems found inDSC_0027 northern VA, but it adds a little adventure into the experience.  Kids begin their visit with team building exercises (like trying to get an entire team of people across the imaginary swamp, as seen in the photo at right), or walking a team across a series of low wires.  They walk through the woods (something some of the kids rarely, if ever, get to do), learning not to purposely snap tree branches or squish bugs (again, new info for some of the kids).  They reach the “peanut-butter pit”, where they learn a little Civil War history and swing across a mud-pit.  Our group topped off the day with an exciting tight-rope walk and zip line that challenged even the most fearless in our group.
DSC_0053This park’s unique combination of challenges, sports, and nature was especially effective in reaching ALL the kids, not just those predisposed to interest in nature.  Even an accidental run-in with a wasp’s nest that got the two chaperones (yes, the greenmomster was one of them) and one unfortunate student couldn’t dampen our spirits!  What a great idea for environmental education!
So here are my five reasons to love Hemlock Overlook:
1)  Combining physical and mental learning for a memorable experience (and zip lines!)
2) A beautiful forest setting in busy northern Virginia (and zip lines!)
3) Very patient and experienced adult guides (and zip lines!)
4) Watching even the most timid kids swing over the mud pit (and zip lines!)
5)  Getting the kids away from the classroom and into nature for a day (did I mention the zip lines?)


  1. What fun to read this!! We took the 6th graders from the school where I taught here for many years....over night! It was the best part of teaching. I love everything you mentioned and was so happy to read about and remember! Fond memories...schools should do more of this.

    1. I bet the overnight was an adventure! I just wish there had been time for the adults to do a little zip-lining!