Classroom of the Earth (COE)

There’s nothing like the original! Our Classroom of the Earth (COE) program was groundbreaking more than 25 years ago, and there’s still nothing quite like it anywhere else!

Classroom of the Earth (COE) offers opportunities for students to learn, experience, and grow in nature. Initially, Good Shepherd’s approach begins with fun. Fun is a doorway through which  young students discover their own curiosity, creativity, and brilliance. When students are having fun, they are engaged, and they learn more. Some of the games we play use fun to get students engaged in activities that then help them develop both their sensory and social awareness. 

Throughout their years in the COE program, students are introduced to the 7 Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. While LNT principles emerged from research on the impact of various human activities and practices in nature, they are expressed through simple and tangible practices that anyone can learn. We teach LNT practices and principles as a part of our core philosophy of stewardship towards the earth. 

Starting with our youngest students in PreK, we incorporate short periods of mindfulness practice. Typically towards the end of the day, these short periods give students a moment just to settle in, experience quiet, and reflect on how they feel and what they are hearing and seeing in the present moment. It always surprises us how much they love it!

As students get older and progress through Good Shepherd, our programs progress, and our activities become more challenging. Over the years, each student will try new things, visit new places, develop new capacities, and hopefully cultivate a sense of love, friendship and responsibility for our earth. Ultimately, our goal is that each student who comes through the COE program has developed important skills and a useful knowledge base in order to be able to both enjoy and care for our world.

Meet our COE leaders

COE Trip Schedules and Highlights