In 1971, on 350 wooded acres in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the Wilderness School was founded to help youth in Washington, DC by taking them out of the city to live and learn in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the years, the School was able to touch the lives of many inner city youth throughout the area until it closed in 1987.
In 1988, Nancy Van Scoyoc had a different vision for the site. In the same wooded corner of the earth, she created the Outdoor Education Center (OEC). The first year her staff brought 12 teenage boys from homeless shelters for an intensive three week wilderness camp. It was a tremendous success for everyone involved. The next year they added a camp session for girls.
Since then, the Outdoor Education Center has been giving many other children the opportunity for hands on learning through a variety of activities. Expert staff runs day-long to week-long programs and summer camps where people of all ages are free to learn and grow. We have grown to include youth development, professional and organizational development, adventure programming, facility rental, and retreats and trainings – all serving clients’ needs.
Additionally, the Center has also been able to establish a highly successful after school program, Leaders In Action, in two local Jefferson County Middle Schools. The Outdoor Education Center continues to grow and serve the local and regional schools, non profits, businesses and municipalities. Looking to our future, we hope to continue this positive growth for our organization, but more importantly our community.
"Everyday you learn new things about wilderness and about teambuilding. After everything that went wrong (homesickness + heat) the fun things will be remembered over the negatives. The OEC staff is very knowledgeable and they will have fun along with you."