Outdoor Education & Field Trips 2017-10-11T19:25:09+00:00

What Can You Learn at the Skelton 4-H Center?


For more information contact
Rayna Wheeler, Outdoor Education Coordinator
540-721-2759 x253

Adventure-Based Outdoor Education Programs

One of the drawing factors for school groups who attend the Outdoor Education programs at W.E. Skelton 4-H Center is our life skill development model that permeates every activity that students engage in. Our adventure-based programming includes some traditional camp activities and challenge course activities that help students build on classroom foundations of teamwork, confidence, fine and gross motor skills, and problem solving.


In prehistoric times, the bow was an important weapon of war and of hunt throughout the world.  Throughout time, activities with the bow evolved into the modern sport of archery.  In this class, students will become more aware and appreciative of archery as a safe sport.


Students canoe in pairs or groups of three on Smith Mountain Lake.  The Canoeing class allows for the introduction of basic paddling instruction and is a great activity for demonstrating the need for teamwork.  Instructors are encouraged to promote students exploration of the natural world within Smith Mountain Lake coves.

Challenge Course I & II

Whether the group is investigating an environmental issue, working together on a group project or playing a game on the playground, our daily lives are full of opportunities to work cooperatively with others.  Through a series of activities of increasing difficulty and challenge, students are encouraged to cooperate with one another, draw on inner resources and to use assets brought to the group by the individual.  Group discussions and processing of the events help the students transfer the activity lessons back to everyday lives.

Climbing Wall

The Climbing Wall offers a variety of challenges for every skill level.  Our trained staffs create a safe setting in which individuals can explore issues such as risk taking, goal setting, maintaining a positive attitude, asking and giving positive peer support and accepting other’s decisions and goals for themselves.  Group discussion and processing help the students transfer their experience back to everyday life.

Collaboration Stations

Overview:  Participants work in small groups on innovative activities such as Tinker Toy Towers, Catapult and Egg Drop.  All students are encouraged to participate in this unique approach to creative construction and demonstration.  Group discussion and procession help the students transfer the lesson back to everyday life.

Map & Compass Mayhem

Overview:  Map & Compass Mayhem is a basic introduction to using map and compass.  The skill of map reading, sightings and taking bearings are also introduced.  Students learn basic orienteering skills and use them to guide the group on a hike through the woods.

Synergy Trek

Overview:  A unique approach to teambuilding can take place while students explore Skelton and the surrounding natural areas of Franklin County.  A combination of Challenge Course 1, Map & Compass Mayhem and Wilderness Survival all come together on this half to full day adventure.  Intense group discussion, processing and solo journaling allow the students to apply the lessons and skills learned back to their everyday life.

Wilderness Survival
This subtle approach to team-building will teach students basic wilderness survival skills such as shelter building, fire starting and water collection.  Leave No Trace ethics and low impact camping will also be addressed.

Discovery Program at Skelton 4-H Center

We are proud to offer classes specifically created around young learners and introducing them to the natural world around them in a safe, guided manner. These high-energy, hands-on activities encourage self-driven learning and cooperation.
Classes include: Wonderful Wildlife, Beautiful Birds, Fun in the Forest, Amazing Aquatics, Nature Art, and more!

Discovery Program Objectives:

• To increase students’ appreciation and awareness of local natural resources
• To increase students’ awareness of connections and interdependence to the natural world through interactive, discovery-based activities
• To cultivate curiosity, critical reasoning and evaluative skills
• To promote self esteem and confidence
• To promote safe risk taking, self confidence, trust, goal setting, problem solving, leadership skills, self discovery and teamwork

For more information contact
Rayna Wheeler, Outdoor Education Coordinator
540-721-2759 x253

For more information contact
Rayna Wheeler, Outdoor Education Coordinator
540-721-2759 x253

Wildlife Studies Curricula

The W.E. Skelton 4-H Center houses many reptiles and amphibians in the James A. Meador Nature Building and our grounds are home to and incredible variety of wildlife that can be spotted from trails and shores around camp. Visitors are sure to catch a glimpse of at least one wild animal while they are on site, and in our Wildlife Studies classes we ensure that students and teachers can have a discourse on the habitats, physical makeup, diet, and all other sorts of interesting information about the animals with whom we share the planet.

Fishing & Fish ID

What better sport to experience first hand than at Smith Mountain Lake!  Students will learn about the anatomy (internal and external) of fish to identify different fish that call SML home.  Students will sample the lake using a seine net to check the diversity of the lake.   Using simple rod and reel poles and live bait, students will experience the art and sport of fishing.

Outrageous Ornithology

With their beauty, color, songs and flight, birds have provided great inspiration to people throughout the ages.  No wonder bird watching is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation in the US!  Many people find it fascinating to watch these flying creatures, often marveling at some of their unusual and comical behaviors.

Wildlife Ecology

All animals need four essential things to survive: food, shelter, water and space.  Animals develop adaptations, physical and behavioral, to aid in fulfilling these needs.Students will discover the importance that animals play in the ecosystems they inhabit and the importance of their adaptations in their survival.

Wooly Bears, Worms & Weevils

Students will examine anatomy, life cycles, adaptations, classifications and the role of insects, worms and other creepy crawly organisms.  They will see these animals in action in our Riparian Buffer Butterfly Garden, compost bins and live animal exhibits.  Outfitted with hand lens, students will continue their adventures by observing native Virginia insects in their natural habitat.