Residential Overnight Programs


School groups stay at our campus and experience three ecosystem-based lessons a day, exploring food systems, the forests, fresh water sources, and other natural areas nearby.


Our Residential Program provides a unique, fully immersive experience for entire grade levels. With a student to educator ratio of 10:1, groups of up to 120 students participate in six or more hours of outdoor, unplugged E-STEM (Environmental-Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) lessons daily, learning new concepts about how the world works, and following their curiosities. Over the course of their stay, students draw connections between ecosystems, notice patterns in the world around them and witness natural processes such as cycles, change and disturbance at work in different ecosystems. Students explore the environment first hand, climbing over rocks to discover tide pools, using soil cores to measure nutrients in fields, and recording field observations of a nocturnal forest in their Field Notebooks.

I would like to tell you guys how much better you made our trip. I’m new to my school and I was a little nervous about staying over night and you made me feel welcomed, so thank you.
— Brihanna, Grade 6, Maine

Living & Learning at The Ecology School

Community engagement and collaborative living is an essential component of The Ecology School’s experiential education model. Lodging and dining facilities foster community building that encourage students to try new things, look at their everyday world with fresh eyes, build friendships, and become engaged citizens.



Food is energy. Food is community. Food is ecology. Meal time at The Ecology School is a time for participants to eat delicious and nutritious, kid-friendly foods, re-energize, connect with their school community, and learn! Lessons focused on food systems along with skill-building activities dedicated to social, emotional learning are inconspicuously integrated into meal time. Students are active participants in meals, serving in set-up or clean-up roles for their table or volunteering to read a short description of the meal’s sponsor. (Sponsors are pieces of the food systems, like transportation or farmers, that are critical to bringing food to our plates!) Skits and songs, performed by No Direction (The Ecology School’s in-house band), provide mealtime entertainment while educating about food and food waste. Meals are a time to connect food, humans, and the environment.

No Direction’s newest hit, Decomposin’, an educational parody of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’.

Students are assigned to tables, and classroom teachers, chaperones and The Ecology School staff sit with students.  The menu is varied and delicious for both students and adults. (Click here for a Sample Menu.) Food is homemade and primarily prepared on site.  Fruit is always available to students both during the meal and as a snack between meals. 

The Ecology School works with parents and client schools to address the needs of students with food allergies or sensitivities. If your child will be attending The Ecology School and you have concerns about the food or menu, please contact Caley Mackenzie, our Residential Program Manager.

connect with us!

For more information about Residential Programs, or to register for a program, contact Director of Programs Alex Grindle.

Typical Daily Schedule

  • 7:00 am

    Wake up, prepare for the day

  • 7:45 am

    Students help predict the weather

  • 8:00 am

    Family style breakfast with weather presentation

  • 9:00 am

    Dorm clean up and lesson preparation time

  • 9:30–11:30 am

    Morning lesson

  • 11:30–12:30 pm

    Teacher directed time/rec time

  • 12:30 pm

    Family style lunch with food education component

  • 1:30 pm

    Lesson preparation time

  • 2:00–4:00 pm

    Afternoon Lesson

  • 4:00–5:30 pm

    Teacher directed time/rec time

  • 5:30 pm

    Family style dinner with dinner theater performance

  • 6:30 pm

    Lesson preparation time

  • 7:00–8:30 pm

    Evening lesson

  • 8:30 pm 

    Back to dorms to get ready for bed

  • 9:00 pm

    Lights out


How are Educators chosen?

Educators, who lead the majority of daily lessons, are seasonal employees who demonstrate a passion for environmental education, the ability to work with a variety of age groups, and a desire to be part of an energetic, positive learning atmosphere. They receiving training from The Ecology School’s year-round Program Team to work with kids in the outdoors to provide safe, fun, and engaging learning opportunities. All staff receive extensive background checks and thorough training in the art and method of teaching children in the outdoors.

Where will my child be staying—and with who?

Currently, Residential Programs, are located at the Poland Spring Resort. Click here for details about Community Living at our interim site.

What is The Ecology School's technology policy?

There are many wonderful opportunities that come with The Ecology School camp experience and one is an opportunity to be screen-free! In today's social media and technology driven world, rarely are kids away from a screen for any length of time, let alone a whole week! We require that campers leave their devices at home to ensure that they engage directly with the people around them and develop communication and relationship skills. Parents are always welcome to call The Ecology School to find out how their child is doing and if parents need to be in touch with their child, they can contact The Ecology School and we will make sure to relay messages!

How do I know my child is okay if they don’t have their cell phone?

Participating in The Ecology School’s program is not only an opportunity to learn in a new way about the environment around you, it is also a chance to reengage with the people around you and spend time screen-free.  In a world where most of us spend an enormous amount of time in front of a screen, it is important to find times and places where we can enjoy the people in front of us and the world surrounding us. It is also an opportunity for students to practice being independent in a safe and caring environment. 

Parents are always welcome to call The Ecology School and we are happy to let you know how your child is doing. Rest assured that if we needed to be in touch with you about something, we would do that. If there is some reason a child needs to be in touch with their parent, we will make that happen too. The Ecology School's no devices policy isn't about secluding or cutting off contact, but rather about helping students to be in the moment, connect with one another on a deeper level, and giving them a break from the day to day burden of keeping up on social media.

Also, there are few things at The Ecology School more exciting than “mail call” each day! Taking the time to exchange good old fashion snail mail letters can be a really great way to connect.

How do students spend their days?

Residential Program participants follow a daily routine, beginning with a 7:00 am wake up call, preparing for the day. Students then help predict the weather followed by a full hour for family-style breakfast with a weather presentation. Dorm clean up and lesson preparation begins at 9 a.m. and the first lesson of the day begins at 9:30 a.m. (Click here to see examples of lessons that students may participate in!) From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. students relax and recharge during teacher-directed recreation time. At 12:30 p.m. another one-hour family-style meal begins complete with entertainment in the form of skits and songs, integrating food education into meal time. Lesson preparation time is from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and the second lesson of the day runs from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. More teacher-directed recreation time from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. gives students the space to socialize and play. Dinner is at 5:30 p.m. with the final, one-hour family-style meal and a dinner theater performance. The third, and final lesson of the day runs from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Then, at 8:30 p.m. its back to the dormitory to get ready for bed. Lights out is at 9 p.m.

What should I pack for my child?

Clothing: Students spend most of their time outside, so pack comfortable clothing that your child can move in, shoes that can get wet, and lots of layers. While it might get really hot during the day, in Maine it is often cool at night, even in summer. Sunscreen and bug spray are highly recommended!

Bedding & Towels: Beds are all twin beds! Generally students bring a pillow, fitted sheet, top sheet as well as a warmer blanket, which can be a sleeping bag if it is the kind that opens all the way up to be a rectangle (vs. a mummy sack).

Please don’t feel like you need to buy new things for camp! Students will be learning and playing outdoors in the dirt and everyone is responsible for their own belongings, so the stuff you have is better than new stuff! If your child is reading a good book or has a favorite snuggie, those are welcome to come along too!

How do you keep children safe?

Safety is our first priority. One of the very first things campers do upon arrival as part of orientation is practice a fire drill. There is 24-hour adult supervision and consistent, numerous head counts. We have an on-site staff and on-site nurse around the clock. If you have questions about safety at The Ecology School, please connect with Alex Grindle, Director of Programs.

What is the food like?

Over the years we have gotten lots of great comments about our food! It is healthy and kid-friendly.  We strive to serve local food whenever possible and it is almost entirely homemade. There are always choices! Fruit is always available for snacks and meals come out in courses and pieces—for example, on spaghetti night, the pasta comes out separately from the meatballs, which come out separately from the sauce—so students are able to choose their own items. We know it is hard to have fun if you are hungry, so we make sure everyone finds something delicious and nourishing to eat!

We work to accommodate all eaters! Please connect with Amalie Sonneborn, Program Manager, to discuss concerns or ask questions!

What if my child has a food allergy?

We will work with you to make sure that campers are well fed during The Ecology School experience. We are able to accommodate a variety of different diets and restrictions. We work closely with our food service provider and chef to provide healthy, homemade, and minimally processed meals created in a kitchen that maintains a high level of safety and cleanliness. Because each diet is unique as are each persons particular allergies and tastes, we do sometimes request that if you have a special diet to send some supplemental foods. Depending on the particular nature of the diet this can range from a few items to food for the entire week.