Forest Explorers

Forest Explorers offers all outdoor after-school and homeschool classes and day camps for children ages 7-11 in Takoma Park, MD.

The Forest Explorers program focuses on what's happening around us in nature as the seasons change. We explore basic elements of science through investigations sparked by the children's own observations, questions and interests. We also dedicate time to move, PLAY and be creative outside. Classes may include games, storytelling, mindfulness, journalling, drama, art, building, making and wilderness skills. Come ready to explore in all weather!

Forest Explorers follows all CDC guidelines for mitigating the spread of Covid-19. Masks are optional.

Check out photos from last year's adventures!

About Forest Explorers Director Shannon Earle

Shannon has an MS in Natural Resources and Environment with a focus on Environmental Education (EE). She's been developing and teaching EE programs for over 25 years. Before starting Forest Explorers, she taught the Forest Kindergarten class outdoors year-round at the Audubon Nature Preschool. Her experience also includes eight years managing an education and training program for Conservation International, three years creating an EE program for the Monte Alto Forest Reserve in Costa Rica and a season as a park ranger in Canyonlands NP in Utah. She is also a children's author. Shannon loves any kind of adventure, camping, gardening, foraging, and storytelling.

She is the proud winner of the 2022 Takoma Foundation Azalea Award for Youth Leader.

About Forest Explorers Teacher Amelia McLaughlin

Amelia, a Takoma Park native and graduate of Sandy Spring Friends School, holds a B.A. in history and political science from Guildford College, a teaching certificate in early childhood education from Montgomery College, as well as a 200 RYT from Radiant Child Yoga. She has spent the last seventeen summers at a play-based, anti-oppression, outdoor summer camp, first as a camper, then a counselor and finally as a co-director for five summers. Amelia has spent the last seven years as a Nature Preschool teacher and On-Site Director at Audubon Nature Preschool, and continues to work with both ANS and her former camp on committees dedicated to examining DEAI practices. Amelia enjoys board games, exploring museums, watching documentaries, hanging with her cat named Tofu and finding new spots to hike in the DMV!

About Forest Explorers Teacher Scott Abernethy

Scott Abernethy has an MFA in Acting and brings new energy and ideas to the dramatic play elements of the program, in addition to outdoor skills and a tremendous sense of adventure and fun. Scott has been a Teaching Artist in the greater DMV for 5 years, and Seattle before that. He is the current Director of the Shakespeare in Schools program for the Educational Theatre Company, and a resident teacher at Ford’s Theatre. He brings his arts background into every classroom, and focuses on creating brave spaces for collaborative learning. In his free time Scott is an outdoor hobbyist, who enjoys backpacking, boating, and fishing.

Upcoming Classes:

After-School Explorers (ages 7-11)

Fall Session 1: September 6 - October 28

Fall Session 2: October 31 - December 15


Mondays - Thursdays 4:00pm–6:00pm

Families can choose a M/W or T/Th class. A limited number of once/week spots are available.

Price varies by class with discounts for registering for two days/week and for both sessions at once.


Home-School Explorers (ages 6-11)

September 21 - November 30

Wednesdays 10:00-12:00


Registration for Winter Sessions will open in early December.

Forest Explorers Day Camps

Afternoon day camps (MCPS Early Release): 1:30-5:00:

Wednesday 12/7

Full day camps (MCPS closed): 9:30 - 4:00

Monday 11/7 (FULL)

Tuesday 11/8 (FULL)

Phone: 301-760-4884

Email: forestexplorerstakoma@gmail.com

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Parents are saying:


"Keep doing what you are doing. It has been amazing. Love the combo of Den days and exploring. Also like the blend of free play and environmental education lessons. She has learned so much being out there with you and has had a wonderful time doing it all. Thank you!"

"We are so grateful for this program. (Child) loves it so much and looks forward to it every week. She wants to talk about and practice what she’s learned. Thank you!"


"Thank you for continuing this wonderful program, Shannon!! (Child) is learning and growing so much because of Forest Explorers!"

"This program has been so incredible for our boys, thank you!"

"This program is the best!"

"Shannon, you are a magical teacher!"