The first day of class in Episcopal School of Dallas’ history wasn’t spent indoors.
“We didn’t start by ringing a bell and coming into a classroom in 1974,” says Eddie Eason, director of outdoor education. Instead, faculty took students to Galveston to explore nature.
Outdoor education is a vital component of ESD’s curriculum. It’s a tradition for eighth-graders to start the school year in Colorado, where they rock climb and hike. Students frequent Wolf Run, a 300-acre ranch near Anna, Texas, for camping trips and archaeological expeditions.
“To me, the ranch is just another campus,” Eason says. “It doesn’t define our outdoor program.”
He guides students while they learn to adapt to adverse weather, pitch a tent and simply socialize without their cellphones, which he collects as soon as they arrive.
“Especially in this day and age, when this helicopter parenting thing is out of control, it helps a lot of them to realize how self-reliant they can really be,” he says.
Eason makes sure ESD’s four tenets — daily worship, community, ethical decision-making and service — are incorporated into the program. He’s adamant that students are respectful to each other and nature, and starts every day with a prayer.
“I get to take kids out of the hustle and bustle out of their everyday lives, and take them outdoors, whether it’s the ranch or a forest or a state park,” he says. “I just get to pass off my love of the outdoors to them.”
Episcopal School of Dallas
Year Established: 1974