Outdoor Learning Center

COVID-Careful Learning, in the out-of-doors

Are you considering the virtual school option as the best thing for your child this year? If you want a COVID careful option but childcare is a hurdle for you, Camp Newaygo’s Outdoor Learning Center is the perfect solution!

Children enrolled in a virtual school options will be able to spend half of their day working to complete their individual program requirements. The other half of the day will be spent in outdoor adventures. Parents can confidently attend to their work and home responsibilities and know their children are involved in their individual virtual learning plan with trained Camp Newaygo staff supervision.

Small groups of no more than 8 students in a pod will allow for the attention to COVID safe protocols and personal attention for peace of mind.

For boys and girls entering 2nd-7th grade
August 31st – January 15th
$185 per week

*Families will commit to a full semester of participation and are billed every two weeks
*Scholarships available for students in Newaygo County

Time Activity
7:30-8:00 AM Drop off at Camp Newaygo
8:00-10:00 PM Virtual Learning Time 1
12:00-12:30 PM  Outdoor Adventure Block 1 
12:00-12:30 PM  Lunch Break *Students Pack Their Own Lunch*
12:30-2:30 PM  Virtual Learning Time 2
2:30-5:00PM Outdoor Adventure Block 2 -or-
Study Time
5:00-5:30 Pick up 

Outdoor Adventure Examples

Our Staff


Jalisa Danhof has a degree in Camp Administration from Florida State University. She has facilitated youth programs at Camp Newaygo for ten years. National Merit Scholar, she is passionate about academic success and learning in the out-of-doors.

Lilka Espinosa from from Toluca, Mexico. Lilka goes to Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México for Biomedical Engineering; she’s experienced in working with kids all ages, she’s passionate about growing and learning through nature and sports. She teaches Spanish Immersion programs and cooking sessions.

From the United Kingdom, Charley Maguire is certified in Stage Combat from the Academy of Performance Combat. She is excited to teach active programming and engage students in physical education through new skills.

A COVID-Careful Program

  • The program will take place almost completely outdoors
  • Staff all receive COVID testing periodically
  • Students and all staff will be screened daily with a temperature check to reduce
    the risk of somebody coming to camp who is ill
  • Students will be assigned to a small group of no more than 8 children. We will maintain social distancing between groups
  • Activity areas and program supplies will be cleaned, and sanitized between students. Students will sanitize their hands before and after activities
  • Staff will wear a mask whenever indoors and whenever unable to maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet from students. Due to Executive Order 2020-164, children are required to mask whenever in indoor spaces. This rarely happens within the program.
We are confident that the systems we have built for a successful overnight camp season will help us continue to provide a COVID-conscious program for families.


Frequently Asked Questions

Camp Newaygo has operated summer programs with protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. In the Outdoor Learning Center, students will be in consistent, small groups of no more than 8 for the semester, utilize socially distanced work spaces while completing virtual course work, spend significant time in the outdoors where there is a lower risk of COVID-19 spread, and follow specific health protocols including daily temperature checks and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. Camp Newaygo will take steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 but acknowledge that the risks of COVID-19 exposure cannot be eliminated.

Students will be in groups of 8 with a facilitator. These learning pods will participate in all aspects of the day together and separate from other learning pods. Our programs regularly utilize mixed age group programming and see the benefit of youth of different ages participating in activities together. Each group of 8 students will be of as similar age as possible within the 3rd-7th grade eligible participant range.

*See Schedule Above*

Drop off at Camp Newaygo will begin at 7:30am and pick up will go until 5:30pm. Students will spend approximately half of their day on virtual learning and half participating in outdoor learning activities.

Families will commit to a full semester of participation which can either be for full weeks (Monday-Friday) or Fridays. Due to the structure of the learning pods and COVID precautions, drop-in days will not be available. The program schedule will follow the Fremont District school calendar and will not operate during school breaks.


Students will need to pack a lunch and snack every day. Food will only be provided during outdoor learning activities like outdoor cooking class.

Academic learning will be supported by the virtual learning vendors each individual family engages with. Camp staff will provide a space and supervision for virtual learning and will provide support for students as they engage in self-guided learning. Camp staff will provide additional learning opportunities during outdoor education activities.

Students will have the option to rent a laptop from Camp Newaygo for use while at the Outdoor Learning Center for $10 per week. Rented computers will not be available for use at home. Tech support for rented computers will be provided. Limited printing services will be provided at camp as part of the registration fee.

Any virtual learning is compatible with the Outdoor Learning Center as long as coursework can be completed on a flexible schedule. Students in the same learning pod may be enrolled in different virtual learning but will need to be able to complete that virtual learning within a block of time on the day. Virtual learning classes that are pre-recorded and/or have open office hours with teachers are ideal. All students enrolled in this program must have a fully virtual option, and not a “packet” model.

Staff and Instructors that have regular, direct interaction with students will be tested for COVID-19 periodically. Students will not be required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing but will complete health screenings daily. Any student that presents COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to stay home until they can provide a recent, negative COVID-19 test. As part of the Camp Newaygo emergency action plan, Camp Newaygo has a partnership with Spectrum Health and a doctor’s script for COVID-19 testing with a PCR Nasal Swab.

Staff are equipped to facilitate outdoors activities in rain, snow, and cold weather. Students will be expected to dress for the weather every day and be prepared to be outside for at least half of the day at Camp. Camp can provide in-climate weather clothing to students as part of our adventure program. In cases of extreme weather (thunderstorms, blizzards, low temperatures, etc) staff will provide alternative indoor activities.

The Outdoor Learning Center will not be providing pick-up or drop off services.

Yes, for students enrolling in the full semester, there is a $20 per week discount for a second full-semester child enrollment. We are not currently able to offer any discounts for the Friday only program. Camp Newaygo does have limited scholarship funding available for the full semester program. You can indicate your need for assistance when pre-registering. 


Recent and relevant media coverage related to outdoor learning as an asset to school districts’ COVID-19 response

“Scotland Eyes Outdoor Learning as Model for Reopening of Schools”
The Guardian, May 10, 2020
”Local authorities are exploring how using outdoor space could optimise physical distancing”

“Italy Eyes Plans for Kids to go to Micro-Nurseries and Have Lessons in the Forest”
AFP/The Local, May 2, 2020
Schools in Italy will be closed until the fall, but the government is considering outdoor learning as an approach to reopen, particularly for young children in preschool and kindergarten.

“Flashback: In the Fight Against Tuberculosis, Open Air Schools in Chicago Took an Unorthodox Approach: Keep Kids Outside, Even in Winter”
Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2020
This article compares the current COVID-19 pandemic to the health crisis 100 years ago, when Chicago (and the world) suffered from the tuberculosis and Spanish flu pandemics. It details the ways that schools in Chicago responded, by having class outside, even during the coldest months of the year.

“Bring Back the Open Air School”
Treehugger, April 24, 2020
Discussion of the open air school movement that started in 1904 in Europe, and spread to the United States before and after World War I. Outdoor learning was used as a strategy to fight the tuberculosis and Spanish flu pandemics, while also keeping school open. This article includes photographs of the outdoor classrooms used at the time.

“See the Forgotten Open Air Schools, Designed to Battle Tuberculosis During the 1930s”
Media Drum World, undated
Photographs of outdoor learning in response to the tuberculosis pandemic ninety years ago.

“When Your Classroom is Outside, School is Always Open”
EdNews, April 2, 2020
Ideas for using outdoor classrooms for engaging academic curricula, shared by staff from Out Teach, a nonprofit that provides coaching and onsite professional development for teachers to boost STEM instruction, in the south and southeastern United States.



If you have questions or concerns, and would like to speak with someone on the phone, we will have staff available Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time): (231) 652-1184