Forest Explorers

Forest Explorers offers all outdoor after-school and homeschool enrichment programs 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. Programs may include games, storytelling, mindfulness, journalling, drama, art, building, making and wilderness skills. Come ready to explore in all weather!

Check out photos from past 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 Guest 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. 

About Forest Explorers Guest Teacher Patrick Earle

Patrick Earle teaches AP Environmental Science and Bio 2 - Ecology at Alexandria City High School. He holds a MEd from George Washington University and a BA in Engineering from Tufts University. He started his teaching career as an environmental educator with the US Peace Corps in Costa Rica, and brings a lifetime of experience hiking, camping and exploring wilderness areas by foot and canoe. He joins Forest Explorers as a guest educator. 

Afterschool Explorers

Day Camps

Day Camps: 9:30 - 4:00 ($125)

Early Release Camps: 1:20 - 5:00 ($70)

Summer Camps

Summer camps are full. Registration for 2025 opens in early February.

Homeschool Explorers

Wednesdays 12:00 - 3:00 pm

PreK-K Programs

Roly Poly Pack

Weekend Nature Club for PreK-K

One Sunday a Month 9:30-11:30 am

Roly Poly Pals

Social Emotional Learning in Nature for PreK-K

Fall schedule coming soon

Phone: 301-760-4884


If you need financial aid to afford our programs, please ask. We offer need-based scholarships

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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!"