Nature School at Camp Albemarle is a faith based program with the goal of teaching children about God through the wonder of His Creation, establishing a connection to nature and getting children active outdoors. 


Program & Registration Information

2 day and 3 day morning preschool sessions, Kindergarten (2019-2020), Sprouts Class and STEM Club (for homeschool famlies) are offered. All programs are held outside, rain or shine. E-mail the Nature School Director for a registration form and to schedule a tour of our school.


All classes are FULL for the 2018-2019 School Year. E-mail the Nature School Director to be added to the wait list.

Flora and Fauna Story Yoga

Visit our Facebook page Nature School at Camp Albemarle or e-mail Heather, Nature School Director, for the most up-to-date information.

Our outdoor preschool launched in September 2016! Our program is unique in that we use the natural world to promote learning and growth in your child. Students spend the entire class outside on 29 acres of land to learn about God through His creation and to create a lifelong connection with nature. In April 2018 we changed our name from The Preschool at Camp Albemarle to Nature School at Camp Albemarle to reflect our new programs.


Program Philosophy
  • Sharing God’s love through His creation.
  • Connecting students to nature to inspire appreciation for the natural world.
  • Providing a safe environment to encourage exploration and learning.
  • Promoting wellness through active play.
  • Assisting students in their interactions with each other to promote cooperative learning and encourage problem solving.
  • Developing activities that are focused on the individuality, abilities and interests of each student.



Camp Albemarle is located on 29 acres of open grass and wooded areas and is bordered by Bogue Sound. Nature School has an outdoor classroom as our base camp and students explore and learn on all 29 acres of land.

Nature School Staff

Heather Estep | Nature School Director

Heather serves Camp Albemarle as Nature School Director. Heather’s love for the ocean and passion for children brought her to North Carolina in 2012. After graduating from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina with her Bachelor’s in Marine Science and a double minor in biology and psychology, she worked as a Special Activities Instructor at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Heather is blessed to combine her love for children, our planet, and God into one amazing job and is excited to get children active outdoors and surrounded by nature. She enjoys volunteering, serving as a kids ministry teacher at her church and crafting.


Salla WagnerSalla Wagner | Nature School Teacher

Salla comes to us by way of the Marine Corps, although collectively she has lived in North Carolina for nearly 12 years. Previously, Salla worked at an all girls elementary school, and acted as a nursery care coordinator and provider. She is a graduate of Liberty University, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education. Most recently, Salla earned a certificate as a Nature Based Teacher. She loves to volunteer in her daughters’ schools, travel with her family both near and far, and you will almost always find her with a cup of coffee.


Cathy Sassner | Nature School Teacher

Catherine (Cathy) was born and raised in New Jersey and later Florida with her family.  After finishing high school, Cathy attended the University of West Florida where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education.  She has taught Kindergarten and First Grade in South Carolina.  She has also worked with and cared for infants through elementary aged children.  Since college, she has moved around mostly on the east coast with her husband, whom is active duty military.  They have one child together.  Cathy enjoys spending time with her family and friends, helping out in her community and exploring the world around her.  She is blessed to be working with preschool children.


Katie Grasso | Nature School Teacher

Katie was born and raised in upstate NY and grew up visiting her grandparents in Eastern NC. She graduated from The State University of NY at Albany with a degree in English and has worked with children of all ages from the time she was a teen. Katie’s passion for the outdoors and nature education began after the birth of her daughter, six years ago. While in NY, Katie began hiking with her daughter who climbed her first mountain at the age of two. Katie enjoys exploring the outdoors, camping, reading, good coffee and traveling. She was thrilled to find The Nature School at Camp Albemarle for her daughter after moving to the area and is excited to be joining their staff.

2018-2019 Session Offerings

All classes are FULL for the 2018-2019 School Year. E-mail the Nature School Director to be added to the wait list.

Preschool Class | 3 & 4 year old

  • 2-day session: Tuesday and Thursday | 9am to 12pm | $160 per month
  • 3-day session: Monday, Wednesday and Friday | 9am to 12pm | $230 per month

*Must be 3 on or before August 31, 2018 and have independent bathroom skills*

Our preschool program uses an emergent curriculum to allow flexibility in activities focused on the children’s natural interests, curiosities and passions. Play is a crucial part of our program as it is a learning process that provides opportunities for cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. It guides children on problem solving and assists with language development. Letters, shapes, numbers and colors will be incorporated into our program but is not an aspect that is heavily focused on as in traditional preschools.

A $100 non-refundable registration and supply fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $75 for classroom supplies).


Kindergarten Class | 5 & 6-year-old (not running for the 2018-2019 school year)

Monday – Friday | 8:15am to 12:15pm | $425 per month

*Must be 5 on or before August 31, 2018*

This class is geared towards students that will be entering the public-school system. While outdoor exploration and play is a top priority of the class, students will spend part of the day indoors completing lessons from a set curriculum. After completing this class, students should be on the same level as their counterparts who complete kindergarten in the public-school system.

A $225 non-refundable registration and supply fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $200 for curriculum and classroom supplies).


Sprouts Class | 5 & 6 year old

Tuesday and Thursday | 1pm to 4pm | $160 per month

*Must be 5 on or before August 31, 2018*

Sprouts class is geared towards homeschool families looking for a program to supplement learning at home. Critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork in an outdoor environment are the focuses of this class. Play, outdoor exploration, and nature and science concepts are implemented in the daily activities.

A $100 non-refundable registration and supply fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $75 for classroom supplies).


STEM Club | 7 to 14 year old 

Tuesday | 1pm to 4pm | $100 per month

Wednesday | 1pm to 4pm | $100 per month

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts will be integrated through the natural world to provide opportunities for students to explore problems, investigate and discuss possible solutions, and then research and implement their project plan. Project ideas will be presented to the students and they will have the chance to create their own ideas. There will be occasional guest speakers and field trips. Students may be split into two different age groups based on enrollment.

A $25 non-refundable registration fee is required at the time of enrollment. The supply fee is factored into monthly tuition.


Contact the Nature School Director for information on sibling discounts.

All classes run September 4, 2018 to May 24, 2019 and will follow the Carteret County Public School Calendar



E-mail the Nature School Director to enroll your child for the 2018-2019 school year. Enrollment information is being updated for the 2019-2020 school year.

Sample Daily Schedule

This schedule is for preschool classes. Sprouts Class and Kindergarten have similar schedules. 

“Teachable moments” are essential to learning and these moments can come at any time. Structure is also important for young children as they benefit from knowing what will happen next. We will maintain a loose schedule with predictable events throughout the day, such as group meeting and hike, to allow the teachable moments to be acted upon while still giving children the security of structure. The following is an example of a typical day schedule.

Arrival and Choice Time: Class will begin in our outdoor classroom and students will have 45 minutes of uninterrupted, unstructured play. Activities include but are not limited to blocks and building, construction play, art activities, sensory activities, science and discovery activities, reading and writing activities, dramatic play activities, math and manipulative activities, and music and movement activities.

Group Meeting: Students take part in conversations, engage in music and movement activities, listen to stories and discuss the day’s activities.

Snack: Teachers and students eat “family style” while telling stories and enjoying each other’s company.

Hike: Students take daily hikes to play and learn in different areas of Camp Albemarle.

Small Group: Students have the opportunity to go further in their learning through small group, adult directed activities.

Ending Group Meeting and Departure: Students assist with clean-up, reflect on the activities from the day, gather their belongings and say goodbye to their friends.  

Classes Occur Outside, Rain or Shine

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” ~ Ranulph Fiennes






An indoor space is available for inclement weather including but not limited to:

  • Thunder and lightning
  • Active tornado watch or warning
  • High winds are present that could cause flying debris
  • Weather conditions could result in children becoming overheated or excessively chilled
  • Wind-chill factor and heat index will play a role in determining how long we stay outside
Thank You!

The growth of our program would not be possible without the support of our generous donors!


An anonymous donor

Archie Davis Construction

Barbara Johnson

Beaufort Wine and Food

Carteret Community Foundation

Cherry Point Officers’ Spouses’ Club

First Presbyterian Church of Kinston Handymen

J.O. and Ruth Barbour Memorial Fund for Wildlife Habitat Conservation

Josef-Ann Smith

Morris Plumbing

Tommy Simpson Construction


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Contact Us about our Nature School Program



156 Albemarle Dr
Newport, NC 28570