FAQs from Teachers

Are Echo Pond Environmental Education Centre programs related to the curriculum?

Yes, all programs are curriculum-linked. Most programs are cross-curricular and could cover outcomes from science, language, art, health, social studies and physical education. Many outcomes are woven into the fabric of the program during meals, games, hikes and campfires.


How many students can the Centre accommodate?

Our bunkhouse sleeps 56 students and 4-6 adults. To be economically viable the Centre tries to operate with at least 40 visiting students.

If your group is smaller than this, then we may book another small group of a similar grade to come at the same time. When this happens the two student groups share mealtimes, free time and the evening hike, but have separate rooms and programs activities.


How do I make a booking?

Contact Laura Temple schoolprogram@echopond.ca  with your grade and the number of students you expect to come.


What is the cost?

The cost is $65 per student. This includes all meals, accommodation and two days of programming. The NLESD subsidizes the program to keep the cost to this affordable price. If any students cannot afford this fee and your school cannot subsidize them, please tell Laura and she will ask if fees can be waived. Organizing and paying for transport is your school’s responsibility.


How and when do we pay?

Bring a cheque with you made out to ’The Environmental Education Commission’. The cheque should be for $65 X the number of students you booked for. Alternatively, we can submit an invoice to your school after the field trip takes place.


How do we get to Echo Pond?

All schools arrange their own transport to the Centre. Find directions here. If you get confused en route call the Centre at 709-687-8593.


What time should we arrive and plan to leave?

Most schools arrive between 10 am and 11 am. If you expect to arrive at a different time, please let Laura know. The final 13 km to the Centre are on dirt roads and you should plan to allow 30 minutes for this section of your trip. Schools leave at about 3pm on the second day.


Are there options other than a 2 day/1 night visit?

The 2 day/1 night visit works well, but occasionally a school makes an alternate request well ahead of time and it can usually be accommodated.


What do I have to do to prepare for a visit?

1) Make and confirm your booking with schoolprogram@echopond.ca

2) Download permission forms here

3) On the forms fill in the correct dates of your visit and bus times and copy them to distribute to students to take home.

4) Collect signed permission forms and money (or some schools fundraise instead).

5) Let Katie Harrison (schoolprogram@echopond.ca) know the final numbers at least 4 weeks before your visit or as soon as you can if you made a last-minute booking.

6) If any form comes back with unusual dietary concerns let Katie know so she can pass them along to the cook. The Centre keeps a small supply of gluten-free products and vegetarian food.

How can I prepare my students?

Research has shown that students get more out of field trips if they know what to expect. If you haven’t been to the Centre before here are a few helpers.

�         Let students know they will be active, learn a lot and have plenty of fun. There will be science, art and physical education activities all related to the environment including games, a campfire and an evening hike to ’the fairy stump’.

�         They will be outdoors a lot so encourage them to bring the right clothing so they are well dressed for outside activities whatever the weather.

�         Some students don’t have the right gear so let them know that borrowing items like boots, and sleeping bags is more environmentally sound and cheaper than buying them. We also have waterproof coats and boots for students to borrow

�         Students generally love the food.

�         Let them know they will be expected to help out with some jobs like washing dishes.

�         The kit list says it is preferred that there are no electronics such as cell phones. Explain that students discover they enjoy being ’unplugged’ and as a result are more engaged in the fun and activities. You could point out that the Centre’s cell phone coverage is spotty and cell phones soon lose their charge. Also, students sometimes lose their phones in the woods, which is very stressful. It’s okay to bring cameras.

�         Try to make it sound like you expect all students to come. Students who decide not to come often regret it when they hear about the fun they missed.

There is a child in my class who has severe allergies. Can they come?

Most classes have at least one child with severe allergies. The parents/guardians of these children can send a child with severe allergies if they and your school principal feel that adequate measures are in place to protect the child.


How many adults need to accompany the students?

There must be a ratio of at least 1 adult for every 10 students in grades 5 to 9 and 1 adult for every 12 students for High School. Echo Pond Environmental Education Centre will always have 2-3 adults available. Depending on your group size and whether another group will be visiting at the same time you should be able to count one or two of these adults in your ratio

  • Up to 10 students need at least 1 teacher
  • 10 to 20 students bring at least 1 teacher and preferably one other adult
  • 20 to 30 students bring at least one teacher and one other adult
  • 30 to 40 students bring 2 teachers and one other adult
  • 40 to 50 students bring at least 2 teachers and another adult
  • 50 to 60 students bring at least 2 teachers and 2 other adults
  • over 60 students bring  5 adults including 2 or 3 teachers

Note that school board policy states that overnight volunteers will be required to provide the school with a Certificate of Conduct from the RNC/RCMP with a Vulnerable Sector Check. These can take some time to get, so find your volunteers early.

What is expected of the teachers and volunteer adults at the Centre?

Visiting adults need to supervise students during free time and at bedtime. Since visiting teachers know their students, they are the best people to deal with serious behavioural issues. Visiting adults can help out wherever they see an opportunity such as handing out materials, cleaning up and supporting students where needed.

How inclusive is the program?

We try to be as inclusive as we can. The programs can be adapted to suit all abilities. Students in wheelchairs do best if someone brings a special ’trail-rider’ type wheelchair and a designated person to push most of the time. These fabulous chairs are available to borrow from Easter Seals in St. John’s, MUN or the City of St. John’s and they make a huge difference to students with mobility challenges who can access most of the woods trails in one of these chairs.

There is a child in the class with serious behaviour problems. I’m reluctant to bring them.

Only you can decide this, but many teachers are pleased to find that student behaviour improves when they are out of the confines of the school classroom and in the woods. The active nature of the program at Echo Pond suits many students who are sometimes disruptive and this trip gives them a chance to shine. The only kinds of students we discourage you from bringing are those who may try to run away. The danger of such a student getting lost is very real. Also, we discourage you from bringing students with severe behavioural issues who may deliberately harm themselves or others.


There is a parent who wants to accompany their child; can they come too?

Some children with special needs need extra help; we welcome extra adults to support these students. For other children please use your judgment. Most children are absolutely fine without their parents. If you don’t need this adult in your ratio, but think the child will not come without their parent then it’s ok to bring them unless we are pushed for space (there is limited space for adults to sleep). When parents accompany the group they don’t share a room with their child unless that child has a severe special need.



Are there separate rooms and washrooms for adults?

There is one private room with attached bathroom in each wing which is often available for a visiting teacher. Other adults usually share small bunk rooms separate from but close to student bunk rooms. If adults wish for privacy and a shower, we recommend getting up early before the washrooms get busy with students.


I’m not a camping sort of person. Will that matter?

This is not camping and the facilities are quite comfortable! There is electricity, heat, hot water, mattresses on the bunks, it is all very clean, someone else is doing the cooking and we have great coffee! Many teachers can’t wait to return to the Centre each year. They find that small discomforts are more than made up for in the opportunity to spend a couple of days in the woods getting to know their students in a different environment.


What happens if there is an emergency, such as an injury, while we are at the Centre?

Our program staff are trained in first-aid. In the unlikely event that a student urgently needs transporting to hospital there will be a car available to do this. Usually one of the Centre’s staff has a car available, but very occasionally a group is asked to bring a vehicle to have available just in case there is an emergency (for example a volunteer parent might use their car).


Any other questions regarding the school programs please contact schoolprogram@echopond.ca