Echo Hill Outdoor School – An Intern’s Snapshot


Eden Ettenger arrived at Echo Hill Outdoor School in August of 2016 and seamlessly stepped into the role of Intern.  Hailing from Malibu, California with over eight years of residential camp experience in the Southern Sierras, Eden brought her genuine desire to make everyone feel important and included.  Her spirit and natural ability to put a smile on everyone’s face combined with possessing an incredible musical talent, placed Eden into the heart of our mission immediately.

During Eden’s three month internship with EHOS, she became immersed in every  aspect of our instructional classes, residential life, and recreational activities.

Eden asserted her passion for videography in long hours spent on a special project as a contribution to our program.

“Working for EHOS not only sparked my curiosity to delve deeper into the exploration of our world, but also my love for sharing this passion with our younger generations.  EHOS is a magical place that everyone needs; it is a family and community that provides a space for learning, growing, and most of all, playing.” -Eden Ettenger

It is with deep respect, admiration, and appreciation that we introduce Eden Ettenger’s snapshot video of life as she saw it at Echo Hill Outdoor School.

We extend a special thank you to one of Eden’s co-workers and mentors, James Stankewicz, for his original musical score and accompaniment with the video.

This video is approximately three minutes in length






Creative Lives Series Continues December 14 with Andrew McCown


andrew-mccown-imageRiverArts is pleased to present Andrew McCown that would be, “Captain Andy,” to many, on Wednesday, December 14, as part of our Creative Lives Series.  The public is invited to join us in hearing him describe his personal journey, stories, passions, and insights.

Andrew has worked with Echo Hill Outdoor School since 1977, and founded the School’s Summer Explore Trips program in 1979, and became an Associate Director in 1981.

He is one of the School’s USCG licensed captains, and regularly teaches Bay Studies, aquatic ecology, and the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay. He is also a current and founding board member of the Chester River Association and served on the board of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for twelve years.

Captain Andy worked as an oysterman for eight winters as he captained the Skipjack Elsworth, one of the last of the great dredge boats of the Chesapeake. In 2008 the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) awarded Andrew with the Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award.

Andrew also performs with the critically acclaimed folk group, Chesapeake Scenes.

The talk will be held in the RiverArts Gallery, 315 High Street, Suite 106, Chestertown, MD, 21620.  Reservations are strongly suggested. Tickets are $20/$15 for RiverArts members, and may be purchased on line, click on events, or by calling the gallery at 410 778 6300.   Refreshments will be provided.

Gallery hours during the holiday season are Monday through Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM, and open on First Fridays until 8 PM.

Cool Indoor Stuff: Andrew McCown Reads Poetry of Nielsen and Hadaway at CBMM


In these hard baked days of summer, even the greatest outdoor enthusiasts must at times seek shelter from Eastern Shore heatwaves. Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the option to enjoy an evening of Chesapeake poetry and music was an irresistible choice for the Spy on Friday night.

The CBMM hosted Andrew McCown of Echo Hill Outdoor School, and Pres Harding, grandson of famed Wingate boat builder Bronza Parks, for a concert to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay through poems and songs.

McCown, a native of Kent County and the Chester River, highlighted the local poetry of the late Pat Nielsen and Meredith Davies Hadaway. The Spy was able to capture a few of the evening’s offerings.

This video is approximately four minutes in length

Echo Hill Outdoor School Welcomes Kent County 5th Graders by Doug Carter


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With every Kent County school bus that rolls onto a field at the end of Bloomingneck Road, another group of fifth graders bounces into the world of Echo Hill Outdoor School (EHOS). The students, visiting for a one-day orientation to the school’s campus, curriculum, and residential program, are preparing for a three-day experience they will have there with one another in the fall.

Designed to acclimate these students to the environment and lifestyle at EHOS, this orientation day is part of a three-year progression of Kent County Public School trips to Echo Hill for 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. As these students from Galena, Garnett, Millington, Rock Hall, and Worton Elementary Schools prepare for their transition to Kent County Middle School, this is the first time they go on a field trip as a cohesive group.

After a series of all-inclusive games to break the ice, the students gather around Assistant Director Deb Grigsby and wait to be divided into twelve “tribes.” Each tribe brings students from multiple schools together with an Echo Hill teacher who leads them in games designed to introduce new team members and build camaraderie among them from the ground up.

In addition to exploring the EHOS tent areas, Chesapeake Bay waterfront, wooded trails, and Adventure Course, the students receive a brief introduction to classes they might experience when they return later this year. Among them are Sensory Exploration of the Environment (S.E.E.), Bay Studies, and Adventure I, which entails activities and low-ropes challenges that foster leadership and team-building skills. Specific to Kent County, the diverse faculty at EHOS also weave into their standard class planning the Six Pillars of Character taught back in the public school classroom through Character Counts: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

At lunch, the fifth graders bond with future classmates over hot turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, snap peas, and cranberry sauce, all served them family-style by a teacher who heads the table—a hallmark feature of Echo Hill’s residential philosophy. This sense of hospitality, distinct in custom program design and positive social interaction with adults, gives students and visiting teachers a taste of what can be expected for their upcoming, more extended stay.

As the day winds down, all twelve tribes regroup on the field where they met this morning. No longer strangers, the entire fifth grade of Kent County has given up on scanning the group for neighbors from the bus stop and desks next door. Having made connections with one another and a new piece of their backyard, they huddle close together as one collective tribe. Associate Director Betsy McCown stages these rising sixth graders for their first group photo, and they do whatever they can to squeeze into the range of the camera’s lens. Five sets of bus doors swing open. The field erupts with cheers, hugs, and high fives. Filled with enthusiasm for the upcoming school year’s EHOS program, the students step back onto their buses, plop themselves on vinyl seats, and wave to new friends through the windows as each bus hauls itself away.

Cool Outdoor Stuff: A Hawaiian Break with Andrew McCown


Even the greatest lovers of the Chesapeake Bay need a break now and then, and for Captain Andrew McCown of the Echo Hill Outdoor School, that meant taking his family to Hawaii for the first time this past November.

Once settled in, it didn’t take long for Andy to see the wonders of Hawaii. In his latest episode of Cool Outdoor Stuff, he takes us to the land of flora and fauna for a special look for what makes these Pacific Islands so special.

This video is approximately four minutes in length 

Cool Indoor Stuff: Byron’s ‘The Eastern Shoreman’ with Andrew McCown


Early last Friday evening, some special friends of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy gathered at the Garfield Center in Chestertown for the first of ESLC’s “Shore Talks” program.

Hosted by Joe and Marianne Hickman, they invited Echo Hill Outdoor School‘s Andrew McCown to take the stage to share some Gilbert Byron stories and Chesapeake Bay songs.

The last poem read by Andy, entitled “The Eastern Shoreman” first appeared in a collection entitled, “The Wind’s Will” by Byron published in 1961. His interpretation is that the voice of the shoreman speaking is from the late 1930s.

Gilbert Byron has been known as the “Voice of the Chesapeake” for many years after he began writing about the Eastern Shore.  He best known novel, the Lord’s Oyster” was published in 1957. Byron grew up in Chestertown and eventually moved to a small cabin a few miles outside of St. Michaels for the last thirty years of his life.

This video is approximately three minutes in length