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Horizons at Hemlock Overlook carries on a four-decade tradition of high-quality outdoor experiences for school programs from Virginia, Maryland, and the Washington D.C. area. Just tell us a little about your goals for the trip, and we will take care of the rest!

Depending on your goals, you may choose to stay overnight or spend a day engaging in activities in our wonderful woods. We are resuming team-building programs fall 2023 and starting environmental education and outdoor adventure programs in spring 2024. Select from many activities in team building, environmental education, and outdoor adventure. The options and combinations you choose keep things exciting year to year.

We have an awesome team that specializes in designing programs for K-12 school groups. Just contact us and we will put together a schedule and quote for your trip.

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Field Initiatives 

(min age: 1st grade) Using portable games and team-building activities, groups learn communication, planning, and teamwork while completing challenges and solving problems. With outcomes similar to the Team Development Course, this is a great choice during inclement weather or shorter activity times as all initiatives can be completed inside.


Team Development Course

(min age: 4th grade) Using prebuilt elements such as the Birthday Beam, Whale Watch, Peanut Butter Pit, and Life Walk, participants tackle challenges to complete a task. Some tasks have physical challenges, while others require great planning and cooperation. An instructor will lead your group through challenges that fit your group and meet your needs.



(min age: 5th grade) Participants push their personal boundaries as they traverse cables toward the zip platform. Once at the platform, participants slide off and zoom down the 300ft zipline!



Instincts of Survival

(min age: 3rd grade) A strategic and energetic run-around game meant to teach participants all about carrying capacity in an ecosystem. Playing as herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, players will travel around our instincts course looking for food and water to survive and ultimately balance the ecosystem of which they are a part.


Native Animal ID Hike

(min age: 1st grade) Slightly more formal than our Exploration style classes, we will hit the trail on a preset hiking path to find clues that identify what animals have been by the area. Just like nature shows and documentaries we will find prints and scatt that will start us off on a conversation about the animals that are native to the area. Once we complete our hike, we finish class looking over the skulls of some of the animals we tracked. With these artifacts in front of us, we discuss the animals’ unique behavioral and physical adaptations. Some examples are our Skull hike, Scat and Track hike, and Pelt Study hike.


Native Birds ID Hike

(min age: 1st grade) Virginia is home to an amazing array of different bird species. We will learn how to identify them through the songs they sing, their plumage, and even some of their common behaviors! Then dependent on group age and wants we will end the class by making bird feeders to hang up outside to entice some birds to come close so we can practice our I.D. skills or even go on a hike to identify some in our own backyard.


Native Plant & Tree ID 

(min. age 4th grade) Tree and plant identification is an awesome skill and gets students to really appreciate the natural world. As we hike through camp we will stop and work to identify several different native species using our ID books. Our knowledgeable instructors will add to the learning by highlighting what the different plants are commonly used for, who uses them as shelter, and who may use them for food. At the end of the hike, students are tested on their knowledge and get to walk away feeling empowered to identify different plants during the rest of their time on camp.


Nature Exploration

(min age: 1st grade) Whether you are 50 or 5, a walk in the woods can always provide some insight. Students will explore our forests along with our knowledgeable instructors to see what they discover. Our younger classes often play a nature-themed bingo scavenger hunt while our older groups do a bit more inquiry-based learning with some breakout periods for sketching and quiet observation.


Pond/Stream Exploration

(min age: 1st grade) 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. Much like our Nature Exploration class, our younger students often play a pond critter themed bingo scavenger hunt while our older participants do a more formal sampling of the available species and use their findings to assess water quality.



Day Hike

(min age: 4th grade) Head into our 400-acre woods with a pack lunch for an age-appropriate day hike near the historic Bull Run. Both full day and half day hikes are available.


River Canoeing

(min age: 5th grade) Spend a half-day or whole day on the historic Bull Run. Participants learn the ins and outs of rowing a canoe in moving water while making memories and seeing Virginia wildlife along the way. Length and difficulty will be adjusted based on age, ability, and weather.

Wilderness Skills


Fire Building

(min age: 3rd grade) 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.



(min age: 4th grade) Fishing pole and bait in hand, participants will spend time fishing in our own lake. This activity can be an unguided activity block or led by OLC staff.


Navigation & Orienting

(min age: 4th grade) Introduction to basic navigation skills using a compass. Participants will learn the parts of a compass as well as an understanding of how they work and why we use them. When everyone understands how to use a compass, groups will use their compass to find letters to spell out a secret word!


Outdoor Cooking

(min age: 5th grade) Students will prepare meals over the fire, on camp stoves, or even make no-bake recipes as if they were camping out. It is a super fun class with the bonus of a built-in snack!


Overnight Trip Prep & LNT Ethics

(min age: 6th grade) This class is designed to prepare students for our offsite backpacking trips. It is a great opportunity to learn about packing techniques, review campsite setup, and learn about “Leave No Trace” best practices before hitting the trail or the river for a camp-out.


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.

Evening Programs


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.


Campfire Program

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.