Echo Hill 2019

During the second week of October, Grade 5 students from Grace spent three days and two nights at Echo Hill Outdoor School with chaperones Mr. LaPietra and Mrs. Kennedy. Setting off with voices raised in excitement (a rousing version of “99 bottles of Coke on the wall” started in the Grace parking lot and was sung all the way to its conclusion somewhere en route), our students arrived ready to learn and challenge their boundaries. The weather threatened to be rainy the whole time, but our group was lucky to have mostly dry days perfect for to exploring nature by the bay: fish, goats, eagles, and lots of bugs. 

The fall trip to Echo Hill is a longtime Grace tradition — now in its 29th year! For many of our students, this is their first time sleeping and eating away from home. Our small but mighty group of seven fully embraced their increased independence and responsibility: they cleaned cabins and managed their own supplies. They made campfires in the woods, learned silly new songs, and took a boat ride on the bay. They pushed their physical boundaries: the Echo Hill “big swing” is always a leap of faith for our students, and it makes an impression. It reminds them that they can breathe through their fears, respect the butterflies in their stomachs, and still do difficult things. 

Finally, the Echo Hill trip is a perfect way to explore the environmental connection sparked by the way we care for our Green School back in Kensington. Students come home with a deepened respect for the diversity, beauty, and fragility of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and our world as a whole. 

We hope you enjoy reading our students reflections on their time at Echo Hill:

  • I will regret not doing something fully.
  • I like hamburgers.
  • I don’t like touching stuff that I cannot see first!
  • Ugly bugs can be cute.
  • I’m not afraid of heights.
  • I like plants.
  • Everyone is brave.
  • I can problem solve.

Here are some vivid memories that the Grade 5 students will save:

  • Feeding the baby goats
  • Eating straight from the garden
  • Going on the bay studies ride
  • Going on the big swing
  • That it was my first-time camping
  • The llama song
  • Campfires in the woods
  • Huge catfish
  • Campfire in the lodge

This year, our students came back with some energy to spare (two of them even joined the Girls on the Run practice that afternoon!). On Thursday, Grade 5 students got a chance to relax and reminisce: they had a “cozy day” in PJs, a Grade 5-only cookout, and a music session where students composed melodies and rhythms based on their time at Echo Hill.