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Classroom of the Earth

Classroom of the earth

Program overview

The Classroom of the Earth program draws children outside their comfort zones — where they can find the confidence to learn, the compassion to serve, and the courage to lead.

The constant distraction of technology can impact students’ connection to the natural world. We developed Classroom of the Earth to help GSES students become more independent, confident, and mature — challenging them in ways the structured classroom environment cannot. By getting them outdoors early, we help each child find balance and incorporate it into their own lives.

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miles traveled by students each year with Classroom of the Earth


miles hiked by each student during their COE experience


nights spent under the stars with COE 

Going outside helps young learners examine their relationships with others in their world, recognize the need for teamwork and group support, and cultivate the leadership skills to navigate through life.

Early Childhood classes explore the GSES campus and learn about the tools and traditions of COE. As they move through each grade level, they acquire new skills and embrace new challenges. The program builds to an ultimate adventure: an epic 9-day backpack and climbing trip to Colorado. 

Along the way, each student will see new places, try new things, and gain a sense of wonder, gratitude, and stewardship for our earth. 

Early Childhood

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On day trips to local parks and museums, students learn about animals, plants, and insects — and enjoy their first hike! 

Lower School

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Using all their senses, students explore and learn about outdoor life — and sleep outdoors in tents on their first overnight trip!

Middle School

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Nature challenges students to apply the skills they acquired — including food storage, adapting to weather, setting up and striking camp, backpacking, and rock climbing!

Eighth Grade

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The capstone adventure — where all our eighth-graders prior COE experiences and training come together in an epic 9-day trip in the Rocky Mountains. 

A Natural Progression

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles

The Classroom of the Earth program is founded on the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). From their earliest experiences on the GSES grounds, students begin to learn about their wondrous and reciprocal relationship with the natural environment.

Developed as an easy-to-understand guide to minimizing humans’ impact outdoors, the Leave No Trace Principles have become the standard for hikers, campers, and adventurers of all ages—whether they’re exploring the wilderness or enjoying a sleepover in their own backyard. 

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Learn more

Meet Our COE Team

Cindy Barnes

Cindy Barnes

Co-Director of Classroom of the Earth

We Invite You to Explore:

Our Episcopal Tradition

The Pre-K through 8 Model

The Fit For Our Future Campaign