Nature SchoolEXPLORE. LEARN. CREATE. GROW!

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 Information
All classes for the 2020-2021 school year are full. E-mail heather@campalbemarle.org with your child’s name, birthdate and phone number to be added to the waitlist.

2-day, 3-day, and 5-day morning preschool sessions & Kindergarten

For home school families: Sprouts Class (5 & 6 year old),  Eco-Explorers (7&8 year old), STEM (9-14 year old) and Creative Writing and Art (9-14 year old)

All programs are held outside, rain or shine. E-mail the Nature School Director to schedule a tour of the school.

 

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

 

Upcoming Events

4th Annual Spring Family Festival (Catapult Egg Launch) | Saturday, March 21st from 10am to 2pm |Click here to visit event Facebook page

 

Sunset Yoga | $10/session | Feb 13 & 27 at 5pm, Mar 12 & 26 & Apr 9 at 6:30pm, Apr 23 & May 7 & 21 at 7pm

Pre-registration not required. Bring your own mat. | Click here to visit Facebook event page

 

Full Moon Paddle Trips |$15/BYOK, $20/person, $40/family | Feb 9, Mar 8 **cancelled**, Apr 5 & May 10 | 6pm to 9pm

Pre-registration is required. Click here to register. | Click here to visit Facebook event page

Little Explorers | $5/child | 10am to 11am

March 9 (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), March 23 (Dirt & Mud, Oh My!), April 6 (Bugs!), April 20 (Nature Babies), May 4 (Ocean Motion), May 18 (Flowers and Bees)

Pre-registration required. Click here to register. | Click here to visit event Facebook Page.

Family Nature Nights  | $5/person | Feb 4 (Birds), Mar 3 **cancelled**, Apr 7 (Nocturnal Animals) & May 5 (Cooking Over a Campfire) from 5:30pm – 7pm

Pre-registraiton is required. Click here to register. | Click here to visit Facebook event page

Our outdoor school launched in September 2016, born from a dream & a prayer. The school started as The Preschool at Camp Albemarle and in  April 2018 changed to Nature School at Camp Albemarle to better reflect program offerings. Our program is unique in that we use the natural world to promote learning & growth in your child. Students spend the entire class outside, in all seasons.

 

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.

 

Facility

Camp Albemarle is a faith-based camp, located  on 29 acres of open grass and wooded areas and is bordered by Bogue Sound. Nature School has an outdoor classroom as our main area but all of camp property is used for exploring and learning.

Nature School Staff

Heather Estep | Nature School Director | heather@campalbemarle.org

Heather serves Camp Albemarle as Nature School Director. Heather’s love for the ocean and passion for children brought her to North Carolina. 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, before founding Nature School at Camp Albemarle. Heather was introduced to nature preschools while continuing her education at an Environmental Education conference and immediately knew she wanted to open one. She has completed various nature-based preschool trainings including the Nature Preschool Institute at Chippewa Nature Center, The Cedarsong Way Teacher Training, and professional development through The Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS), Project Learning Tree, Mindstretchers Academy and Antioch University. Heather is also certified in Conscious Discipline. 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, hiking, watching sunrises and sunsets, and crafting.

 

Katie Andrews | Program Development Coordinator and Nature School Teacher – Eco-Explorers and Creative Writing & Art | katie@campalbemarle.org

Katie moved from NY a few years ago after many summers spent visiting her grandparents in Eastern NC and is happy to call Eastern NC home. She graduated from The State University of NY at Albany with a BA in English and is a certified nature-based teacher through The Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Katie has completed professional development through Mindstretchers Academy, Project Learning Tree, and Antioch University. She has over a decade’s worth of experience working with children of all ages and developmental abilities in diverse settings. Additionally, Katie is trained in Conscious Discipline. Katie is passionate about expanding nature-based educational opportunities beyond the preschool years. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors and camping with her family, reading, good coffee and baking bread.

 

 

Cheyenne Mendoza | Nature School Teacher – 5 Day Preschool and Sprouts | cheyenne@campalbemarle.org

Cheyenne was born in the small town of Thomaston, Georgia but she grew up here on the Crystal Coast and considers both places home. She graduated from UNCW with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She enjoys learning new languages and is fluent in both Spanish and English. Cheyenne was a homeschool student for most of grade school and because of this, she had the opportunity to work with children in a teaching role from a young age. She has a deep love and appreciation for nature, God and teaching. She is so grateful to be able to work in an environment that encourages growth in all three. Cheyenne has completed professional development through ERAFANS and is certified in Conscious Discipline. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys hiking and going on adventures with her family, reading, photography, learning the violin and volunteering in her church’s children’s ministry.

Ann-Marie Robinson | Nature School Teacher – Kindergarten Teacher | annmarie@campalbemarle.org 

Ann-Marie was born and raised in Carteret County. After graduating from West Carteret, she attended NC State earning a degree in Psychology while obtaining her Elementary Education Certification from Meredith College. After returning to Carteret County, she married her high school sweetheart and began her teaching career at Morehead Middle School teaching math. After her oldest daughter was born and Bogue Sound Elementary opened, she transferred to teach first grade and later kindergarten. Three years later, her youngest daughter was born. She is retiring after 20 years from Carteret County Schools to follow God’s direction to teach in a Christian-based setting. She is active in children’s ministry at her church and has taken children’s ministry classes through Campbell University, as well as completed nature-based professional development through ERAFANS. Ann-Marie is also certified in Conscious Discipline. Outside of work and ministry, she loves boating and kayaking here at home and camping in the mountains. She is excited to see where God is leading her in this new chapter of her life.

Jennifer Edwards | Nature School Teacher – Kindergarten Teacher Assistant | jennifer@campalbemarle.org

Jennifer (Jenn) was born in Florida but has spent most of her life in Eastern NC. Her true calling is working with children and she has volunteered and trained with various faith-based organizations as well as with the Boy Scouts of America. Jenn is a certified nature-based teacher through ERAFANS and has completed professional development through Project Learning Tree and Mindstretchers Academy and is certified in Conscious Discipline. Jenn is most passionate about facilitating wonder-based play and making enduring connections with children, inspiring them to shine. She is deepening her understanding of the benefits of outdoor learning and is particularly interested in the connection between time spent outdoors and improved mental health. Outside of work, Jenn enjoys spending time with her family – her husband is a certified EMT, she has two sons, and she homeschools her youngest. As a family, they enjoy exploring, scouting, camping and volunteering in the community.

Jami Raeburn | Nature School Teacher –  Eco-Explorers and Creative Writing & Art | jami@campalbemarle.org

Jami was born in Eastern NC and is thankful to live and work in the place she has always called home. As a child, she moved around quite a bit, providing her with experiences and adventures she draws upon when teaching. Jami has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Eastern Carolina University and has previously worked as an educator at the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium and in the Carteret County Public School System for four years. Jami made the transition from traditional education to nature-based after watching her son thrive during his time at nature school. Jami has completed professional development through ERAFANS and is certified in Conscious Discipline. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, boating, and spending time with her family.

Leslie Bassaragh | Nature School Teacher – Sprouts | leslie@campalbemarle.org

Leslie is originally from Brooklyn, NY. As a teen, her family moved to Miami, FL where she later joined the Air Force. Leslie completed four years in the Air Force overseas and stateside. She later returned to Miami where she met her husband while attending college. Her husband’s Marine Corps career had her living and working on her education degree in San Diego, Central Florida and finally here in Eastern NC, which they now call home with their children. Leslie’s love for children and passion for teaching brought her to Nature School. She loves guiding children as they learn and sharing in their “aha” moments, while providing a safe and loving environment where each child is valued and celebrated for their uniqueness. Leslie is fascinated by how a nature-based education encourages a child’s critical thinking skills and independence. She is actively working on increasing her naturalist knowledge by learning to identify local plant and wildlife and has completed professional development through ERAFANS. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, singing, cooking, pool time and entertaining.

Melisa Phifer | Nature School Teacher – STEM | melisa@campalbemarle.org

Melisa grew up playing in the woods and streams of eastern Pennsylvania with her older brother, Kris. Throughout her adventures in New Mexico and the Southwest, Haiti, south Florida, and western North Carolina, she has kept playing outside: hiking, camping, kayak guiding, snowboarding, dog walking and equine yoga. She has taught high school science in the public school system, led Envirothon teams, litter sweeps, a Fairchild Challenge team, served in the Peace Corps in Haiti, as summer camp Environmental Education Director and generally encouraged and facilitated children and young adults getting outside and learning more about nature. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College and a Master’s degree in Education from Temple University. Melisa is currently pursuing her NC Environmental Education certification. She really enjoys a good campfire and accompanying stories and songs. Melisa and her daughter call Eastern NC home.

Jena Welsh | Nature School Teacher – STEM | jena@campalbemarle.org 

Laurie Power | Nature School Teacher – Creative Writing and Art

Laurie has always loved working with children and spent all her teenage summers having fun as a preschool day camp counselor. She earned her BS from Allegheny College where she studied Biology and Studio Art. Originally from Ohio, she first lived in this area as an undergrad studying at Duke Marine Lab. After subsequently working and studying at marine labs around the country, she fell in love with informal education. Laurie has spent the last decade leading outreach programs for the aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores and public programming for the Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Laurie has completed professional development through ERAFANS. She enjoys spending time with her family and pets, homeschooling her two kids (both are Nature School students), sewing and being outside and on the water as often as possible.

 

 

2020-2021 Session Offerings

All classes run September 2020 to May 2021 and will follow the Carteret County Public School Calendar

Preschool Class | 3 & 4 year old

    • 2-day session: Tuesday and Thursday | 9am to 12pm | $170 per month | 3 & 4 year old mixed class
    • 3-day session: Monday, Wednesday and Friday | 9am to 12pm | $245 per month | 3 & 4 year old mixed class
    • 5-day session: Monday – Friday | 9am to 12pm | $385 per month | 4 year old class only

*Must be 3 on or before August 31, 2020 for the 2- day and 3- day sessions and 4 for the 5-day session*

 *All preschool students must 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 are not an aspect that is heavily focused on as in traditional preschools. The student to teacher ratio is 10:2. (There are 2 separate classes that run on MWF and 2 separate classes that run on TTH. Your child will be assigned a class before school starts.)

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

 

Kindergarten Class | 5 & 6 year old

Monday – Friday | 8:15am to 12:15pm | $475 per month

*Must be 5 on or before August 31, 2020*

This class is geared towards students that will be entering the public school system, but also appropriate for homeschool families. While outdoor exploration and play is a top priority of the class, students will spend roughly a quarter of the day indoors completing lessons. We will be using My Father’s World’s curriculum. The student to teacher ratio is 12:2.

A $175 non-refundable registration and supply fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $150 for curriculum and class supplies).

 

Sprouts Class | 5 & 6 year old

Tuesday and Thursday | 1pm to 4pm | $165 per month

*Must be 5 on or before August 31, 2020*

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. The student to teacher ratio is 12:2.

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

 

Eco – Explorers | 7 & 8 year old

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

*Must be 7 on or before August 31, 2020*

Eco-Explorers is a play-based introduction to STEM. This class is geared toward homeschool families to supplement learning at home and it provides a natural stepping stone from Sprouts to STEM Club. Class will take place in the outdoor classroom, as well as utilizing the rest of camp. Like Sprouts, play and outdoor exploration are an important part of the program, but more emphasis will be placed on introducing STEM concepts and completing projects. STEM concepts will be introduced using the natural world and students will have the opportunity to explore, investigate, research and implement their ideas.  The student to teacher ratio is 14:2.

A $75 non-refundable registration and supply fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $50 for class supplies).

 

STEM Club | 9 to 14 year old

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

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

*Must be 9 on or before August 31, 2020*

*Both sessions are the same and students may only enroll in one STEM Class*

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 also be able to create their own ideas. There will be occasional guest speakers and field trips. The student to teacher ratio is 16:2.

A $75 non-refundable registration fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $50 for class supplies).

 

Creative Writing and Art Class | 9 to 14 year old

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

*Must be 9 on or before August 31, 2020*

Both writing and art skills will be explored weekly, with month-long projects allowing for students to be exposed to different mediums of art and writing, while honing their skills. Students will spend time each week exploring and observing nature and working on a year-long nature journal, weaving art and writing together. The nature journal will facilitate scientific learning about the local flora and fauna. The emergent curriculum will be flexible to allow for students’ passions and interests to be explored. The types of art and writing to be explored will include, but is not limited to: drawing, painting, sculpture, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and storytelling. Students must be able to read and write independently. The student to teacher ratio is 12:2.

A $75 non-refundable registration fee is required at the time of enrollment ($25 for registration and t-shirt and $50 for class supplies).

 

There is a 15% sibling discount on additional children.

Contact the Nature School Director for scholarship information.

Nature School at Camp Albemarle Registration Process
All classes for the 2020-2021 school year are full. E-mail heather@campalbemarle.org with your child’s name, birthdate and phone number to be added to the waitlist.

2020-2021 School Year: Click here for the registration form.

Pre-Lottery Process for the 2020-2021 School Year: 

  1. Students currently enrolled in our program must register between February 3rd and February 14th at 5pm.
  2. Siblings of currently enrolled students, siblings of alumni students and children of Camp Albemarle Staff must register between February 17th and February 28th at 5pm.
  3. The public will have between February 3rd and February 28th at 5pm to turn in a registration form which will be entered in the registration lottery.
  4. No e-mail registration forms will be accepted. Forms may be turned in or mailed to Nature School, 156 Albemarle Drive, Newport, NC 28570.

Lottery Process:

  1. The Nature School at Camp Albemarle Lottery will take place on Monday, March 2nd at 10am.
  2. All registration forms received from the public in the month of February will be eligible for the lottery drawing. All applications received on March 1st or after will be enrolled on a first come first serve basis, or placed on the waitlist if the class is full, in the order they are received.
  3. At least one member of the community (who is not staff, a Board member or relative of students at Nature School) will be present at the lottery to make sure that all procedures are conducted fairly and accurately.
  4. Each registration form from the public will receive a number. Numbers will be pulled one at a time and the student will be placed in the desired class. If the class is full, the student will be placed on the waitlist.
  5. Parents will be notified within one week of the lottery of their child’s placement in the program. Upon notification, parents have one week to submit the required non-refundable registration fee. If the registration fee is not received within one week of notification or a parent declines the spot, the first person on the waitlist will be contacted.

Important Notes:

  1. This registration process is the same for all classes including Preschool, Kindergarten, Sprouts, Eco-Explorers, STEM and Creative Writing and Art Class.
  2. Students must meet the age requirement by August 31st of the upcoming school year. Age requirements will be specified on the registration form.

 

Questions about the 2020-2021 registration process can be directed to heather@campalbemarle.org

This page is under construction.

Classes Occur Outside, Rain or Shine

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

 

 

 

 

 

Ways Nature School students stay safe in all weather elements:

  • Cold Days
    • Wear warm layers, hats and mittens
    • Eat warm snacks such as oatmeal or soup and drink hot chocolate or apple cider
    • Participate in activities to keep the body moving
    • Use heated rice bags to warm up hands
  • Warm Days
    • Drink lots of water
    • Seek shade
    • Participate in activities involving water (i.e. water table, water games)
    • Have special treats such as all natural electrolyte drink or all natural frozen fruit pops
  • Rainy and Windy Days
    • Wear rain gear
    • Utilize the pavilion for shelter
    • Visit the forest (the trees provide protection from rain and wind)

 

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
Pay Tuition

2 day preschool: $170/mo | 3 day preschool: $245/mo | 5 day preschool: $385/mo | Kindergarten: $475/mo | Sprouts: $165/mo | STEM/Eco-Explorers/Art & Writing: $100/mo

 

View Photos 

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School Calendar

Monday, August 31st – First Day of School

Monday, September 7th – Labor Day | No School for students or staff

Monday, October 12th – Teacher Workday | No school for students

Wednesday, November 11th – Veteran’s Day | No School for students or staff

Wednesday, November 25th – Friday, November 27th – Thanksgiving Break | No school for students or staff

Monday, December 21st – Friday, January 1st – Christmas Break | No school for students or staff

Monday, January 18th – MLK Jr. Day | No school for students or staff

Monday, February 15th – Teacher Workday | No school for students

Friday, April 2nd – Friday, April 9th – Spring Break | No school for students or staff

Tuesday, May 18th – Last day of class for Tuesday STEM

Wednesday, May 19th – Last day of class for Eco-Explorers and Wednesday STEM

Thursday, May 20th – Last day of TTH preschool, Sprouts and Art & Writing

Friday, May 21st – Last day of school for MWF and M-F preschool and Kindergarten

On days that the Carteret County Public Schools are delayed, Nature School will start at the following times. Our schedule is different from other schools in the area so please take special note of the start times. If you have a child in the public-school system and our start time will cause a conflict, please inform the Nature School Director.

  • If there is a 1-hour delay preschool will start on time at 9am but Kindergarten will start at 9am.
  • If there is a 2-hour delay preschool and Kindergarten will start at 10am.
  • Preschool and Kindergarten will be cancelled if the Carteret County public schools are cancelled. In some cases, the weather clears, and it is safe for people to be on the road in the afternoon. If the school system cancels school but the roads are safe for Sprouts, Eco-Explorers, STEM and Art & Writing, class may be held. The Nature School Director will e-mail/text parents by 10am to let parents know if the afternoons classes will be in session for the day.
  • If Carteret County Public Schools releases early for inclement weather, the morning session will continue until 12pm unless the release time for the public schools is before 12pm. In this case, parents will be notified of Nature Schools early release time. Parents with a child at a public school may pick up their Nature School student before 12pm. Afternoon classes will be cancelled if the public schools release early for inclement weather.

What Indoor Space is Available in Inclement Weather? 

Our dining hall and craft cabin are available for inclement weather such as thunder and lightning, tornado watches or warnings, high winds that cause flying debris, and conditions that could result in children becoming overheated or excessively chilled.

What Should My Child Bring Each Day? 

Your child should come dressed in closed-toe shoes and weather appropriate clothing each day. Layers and rain gear are very important! Your child should also bring a backpack with an extra set of clothes, water bottle, and sunscreen and bugspray.

Do You Provide Snack? 

Nature School provides snack for the preschool classes. Students in the Kindergarten and afternoon homeschool classes should bring a nut-free, healthy snack from home.

Will My Child Get Dirty? 

Yes! Some students choose not to get dirty but the majority of our students (especially our preschoolers) go home with dirt on their clothes and body. We encourage the students to jump in puddles and play in the dirt!

Do You Have Medical Staff on Duty? 

No, we do not have medical staff on duty but all Nature School teachers are required to be up-to-date on their CPR and First Aid Certifications.

Do You Offer Early Drop Off or Late Pick Up?

No, we do not offer early drop off or late pick up options.

Do You Offer Classes During the Summer?

Nature School classes run September through May. Nature School staff lead summer camps for preschool and Kindergarten age children. Camp Albemarle offers summer camps for rising 1st – rising 12th graders. Visit the Camp Options tab at the very top of the page to view camp offerings.

Can I Come For  A Tour? 

Yes! Email heather@campalbemarle.org to schedule a tour of our school.

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

Walmart

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Contact Us about our Nature School Program

 

Verification

252.726.4848
office@campalbemarle.org
156 Albemarle Dr
Newport, NC 28570