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A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12

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Outdoor Education

I am a trail of crumbs for curious minds. - ESD Manifesto

Connecting with the Great Outdoors in Support of the School’s Mission

Outdoor education has been essential to The Episcopal School of Dallas since day one, 1974, when Father Swann, two teachers, and 11 students gathered around a campfire in Galveston. Today, the tradition continues as we offer a well-rounded Outdoor Education Program that engages all Kindergarten through grade 12 students in experiences beyond the classroom. We create opportunities for students to make connections with classroom learning experiences through place-based experiential learning opportunities. 

The Program supports the Mission of The Episcopal School of Dallas, supplements the curriculum at all grade levels, and is an expression of the Founding Tenet of Community.  The experience is further enhanced through access to Wolf Run Ranch, ESD’s 300-acre Outdoor Education Center.

The basic goals of all the trips are for students to learn about themselves, others, and the world around them, as well as to work together and care for each other.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Outdoor Education?

Outdoor Education at ESD is an extension of the founding tenet community. It encompasses camping, field trips, grade-level trips (Colorado, Washington DC, Texas gulf coast), and class trip to Wolf Run.

What is Wolf Run Ranch?

Wolf Run Ranch is a 300-acre Outdoor Education Center located just outside of Anna, Texas. The facility, founded thanks to the generosity and guidance of the late Pete Gifford of Dallas, provides nature trails, a lake, a low ropes course, two bunk houses, a lodge, an outdoor chapel, and a working ranch for our students’ outdoor educational use.

What type of activities do students participate in at Wolf Run?

Activities at Wolf Run are community-based or curriculum-driven activities per grade level. A few examples are class retreats, team-building activities, science labs, Native American lifestyle activities, and community service projects.

What do students eat while at Wolf Run? My child has food allergies, will he be okay?

Students participate in the preparation of their meals. They cook hamburgers, fajitas, pasta, eggs, pancakes, etc; pretty traditional meals. The staff and school nurse review all food allergies prior to each trip and has a food plan for students with allergies.

My child has never slept away at camp or gone camping before, will they be okay and safe?

Yes, your child will be safe. We teach overnight stays and camping skills in progression. 

Lower School students spend an optional overnight at the ranch, sleeping in the bunkhouses with their parents and classmates. 

Middle School students have their first grade-level overnight experience sleeping at Wolf Run. We teach them how to camp/sleep in a bunkhouse in preparation for their two night stay in camp bunkhouses on their gulf coast trip. Sixth grade student learn how to sleep/camp in tents at Wolf Run; spending their first night out in a four-person tent at Wolf Run. Seventh-grade students have an overnight experience at Wolf Run sleeping in the bunkhouse, and also spend an overnight tent-camping at a local State park. Eighth-grade students spend multiple nights sleeping in a large group tent shelter, and learn how to backpack and tent-camp in a national forest.

Who addresses medical emergencies?

All Outdoor Education staff members are trained in outdoor first aid response and CPR certified. A school nurse attends all large grade level trips as well. We have immediate access to 911 with a 24 hour clinic 15 minutes away and a region hospital within 30 minutes.

Will my child have time to play video games?

Um ... no. 

About Wolf Run Ranch

Located just outside of Anna, Texas, Wolf Run provides a 300-acre environment for experiences of community. Nature trails, a lake, a low ropes course, two bunk houses, a lodge, an outdoor chapel, and a working ranch create unique opportunities for learning and self-growth for students grades one through twelve.

Outdoor Education in Action

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Before embarking on their last year at ESD, the senior class travels to Wolf Run Ranch for a Senior Retreat.

This retreat is a time-honored tradition at ESD, and has been in place for 30 years. It allows seniors and their teachers to set the tone for the upcoming year and discuss the legacy they want to leave as a class.

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From examining algae to discovering Quarry-dwelling species, our Lower School friends of all ages visit the Quarry for an Outdoor Education experience. The best part? There's no need to go far - it's right on campus!

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To kick-off the year, our eighth-grade students head to Buena Vista, Colorado during the first week of school.

This annual trip honors the early days of ESD when, rather than start the school year on campus, Father Swann would take students down to Galveston for an outdoor education experience.

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Our students don't have to venture far to experience Outdoor Education. Many Upper Schoolers get the opportunity to learn how to rappel down a wall just outside the dining commons!

Meet Our Outdoor Education Team

Eddie Eason

Eddie Eason

Director of Outdoor Education
Dawn Eatherly

Dawn Eatherly

Assistant Director of Outdoor Education, Freshman Class Dean
Davis Felder '06

Davis Felder '06

Assistant Director of Outdoor Education
Laura Talbot

Laura Talbot

Lower School Science Teacher