Read all about the myriad benefits of Outdoor School here.
"It's not just a trip to the woods for the week. It's a critical part of our curriculum. Reading about the forest is a lot different from being in the forest."
- Cheryl "Isis" Bland, sixth grade teacher
In 1957, a hands-on field science program called Outdoor School (ODS) launched in Oregon. It is an opportunity for students in fifth or sixth grade to move from their school classrooms into the outdoors to learn, immersed in nature. ODS programs are typically housed in residential camps; students stay onsite for up to five nights. While there, students learn about soil, water, plants and animals, as well as natural sciences specific to the local community and economy.
Friends of Outdoor School is dedicated to preserving the Outdoor School (ODS) experience for all Oregon students regardless of a student's ability, experience, income or family background. We do this by raising funds, gathering volunteers, and building community partnerships on behalf of Outdoor School.
Created from a grassroots movement in 2003 to save the MESD Outdoor School program for Portland Public Schools, Friends of ODS has grown to become the lead organization in Oregon supporting Outdoor School.
In 2015, Friends of ODS helped to pass Oregon Senate Bill 439, which established the first-ever statewide Outdoor School program administered by Oregon State University Extension Service.
In 2016, we established and led a coalition (Oregon Outdoor Education Coalition) to secure state funding for a week of Outdoor School for all 5th or 6th grade students in Oregon through a citizens’ initiative, Ballot Measure 99.
Friends of ODS is the key connection between Outdoor School and the larger community of individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that support Outdoor School programming.