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mcdowell environmental center

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools are unable to take field trips. We have decided to offer a safe outdoor field trip opportunity for families! We are excited to announce that we will be offering Family Field Trips starting in September.

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McDowell Environmental Center and The Farm School announce a new way to safely get away during COVID-19. McDowell “Family Field Trips” are an educational and relaxing three-day experience of exploration.

At McDowell, we believe that experiential education, through inquiry and self-discovery leaves long-lasting impressions and a deeper understanding of the world around you and yourself. Bring your family for this very personalized field trip.

  • Experiences over three days include:
  • - Raptor Program: Meet our birds of prey!
  • - A Taste of the Farm: Interact with our goats, chickens, and pigs, then harvest and enjoy farm-fresh food.
  • - Nature Hikes: Explore some of our 1400+ acres of canyons, streams and sandstone formations with specific topics
  • - Canoeing on the Lake or Creek


  • Guests will have three options for lodging which will affect the price.
  • Three day-two night visit (this includes 6 meals, 2 nights lodging, programming)
  • Program Cost and Meals: $125.00
  • Lodging:
  • Clear Creek Cabins:Lodging for two nights: $40.00/person
  • Bethany Village Cabins:Lodging for two nights: $50.00/per person
  • Hotel Style: Lodging for two nights: $260.00/room (up to 4 people/room)
  • View more details and pictures of lodging options:
  • ** Ages 2 and under are free**
  • Extras:
  • Ropes: $40.00/Family
  • Guided Canoe: $30.00/Family

Stay Connected During this Time - McDowell Educational Videos

  • We are missing you at Camp McDowell and want to stay connected. Visit our YouTube Channel to see our educational series.
  • Bring your curiosity and share with your friends!

McDowell Environmental Center Overview

"Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he or she can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.“ - George Washington Carver

Since 1994.

  • Our mission is to connect people to their environment, teach respect for the Earth
  • and its beings, and to promote a commitment to lifelong learning.
  • The McDowell Environmental Center (MEC) is a unique learning experience for thousands of students and teachers throughout the region every year. More than a walk a woods, this non-sectarian program welcomes all students regardless of race, religion, or gender. Many classes can be adapted to accommodate individuals with special needs. Schools typically come for three days and two nights to learn knowledge and skills from excellent instructors that are impossible to find in a classroom.
  • The MEC’s program goals are to:
  • • Increase awareness and understanding of the environment.
  • • Encourage a sense of responsibility for the environment.
  • • Foster cooperation and the idea of community.

Instruction and activities take place outside, among forests, canyons, and streams, where students can see and feel exactly what they are being taught. Respect for the environment, recycling fundamentals, team building, confidence enrichment, and zero-waste concepts are only some of the life-skills students are empowered with upon leaving.

  • The program sessions are in-line with the state educational curriculum of Alabama and some surrounding states. Teachers receive continuing education credit for their time in the program. We believe we have something special and want to share it with you!

We invite you to explore the links above to learn more about our unique program.

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Outdoor Classroom

Not all classrooms have four walls.

Our classes take place outdoors in variable weather conditions, so students and chaperones should prepare to spend three-hour blocks outside. Camp McDowell encompasses 1,140 acres of diverse forests, meadows, streams and canyons. This landscape is an incredible natural resource that serves as our classroom, rain or shine. Choose the path that is best for your students. Challenge them on our high ropes, study geology in a sandstone canyon, or nature journal next to the softly flowing waters of Clear Creek!

"I think everybody should come. . . it's just the experience that you get when you're outdoors learning; it's that feeling of making a new friend." -Jon (student from Vestavia)