What Should You Bring to Outdoor Science School?

Below is a packing list for yourself, so that you will be prepared and comfortable for the week, as well as a suggested packing list for the visitors under your wing (students and cabin leaders).  If you have any questions about what to bring, don't hesitate to contact us!

Personal Packing List

In the spring and the fall, it might get quite warm during the day, but can get very chilly at night.  You are not likely to see snow (though you never know!), but do prepare for the possibility of rain or snow. In the winter months, it can be quite cold and snow is likely. You will be outside much of the day, no matter what the weather, and you will be hiking on trails and sitting on the ground, so plan accordingly! Layers are the best bet for changeable weather - a sweatshirt, jacket or windbreaker that can be tied around your waist is very helpful. The sun is strong, so a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are a good idea, too.

Outside Clothes

  • Good walking shoes - 2 pairs if possible. Tennis shoes, running shoes, cross-trainers, light hiking boots, etc. Hiking Shoe Hint - Tie your shoelaces!! If you have those oh-so-fashionable shoes that are too big and untied, bring some "unfashionable" but functional shoes that can be tied snugly. We will be hiking on rocky, sometimes steep trails and you need the support! Students wearing loose shoes have been known to trip and fall right out of their shoes - how fashionable will you look, then?!
  • Extra socks - bring more than you think you need. Keeping your feet dry and warm is the best way to avoid blisters and discomfort (smells better, too).
  • Clothes you don't mind getting dirty! All of our dirt washes out - really!
  • Long pants are a must. We have a rule about wearing long pants to protect your legs from getting scratched and scraped on the trail, and it's more comfortable to sit on the forest floor of pine needles if you are wearing jeans! 2-4 pairs of long pants are recommended.
  • Tee shirts. Please no tank tops or belly shirts or messages inappropriate for school on them! Bring some light colored and dark colored tee shirts - wear the light colors on hot days and the dark colors on cooler days! But plan to get them dirty, no matter what color they are.
  • Overshirts - long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts or sweaters or jackets or windbreakers to layer over the tee shirt - something not too bulky that can be tied around the waist is a great idea. We will make you bring it on the trail if the weather might turn cool, so make sure it is something you don't mind carrying! Plan to get it dirty. You will probably be sitting on it much of the time!
  • Hat for sun (or to keep your head warm when it's cold!)
  • Clothes for cold or wet weather:
    • A warm jacket for evening activities. Not just a light sweatshirt or windbreaker, something warmer. If you don't have something warmer, bring more layers - an extra sweatshirt and a windbreaker that fits over two will help. We have extra warm jackets to loan out to visitors who need them, though, so don't worry!
    • A rain jacket or poncho. Windbreakers are not waterproof. We have rain ponchos to loan out if you don't have your own, so don't worry if you don't have one.
    • Waterproof boots are nice, but if it gets really messy, we have rain/snow boots to loan out.
    • Hats, gloves, scarves. These are nice to bring. We do have a few extras to loan out if you don't, though. The gloves may not match, but they'll keep your hands warm!
    • Hats! Hats protect you from the sun when it's hot and they keep your head warm when it's cold. If you have them, bring both a sun hat and a warm cap.
  • Sunglasses - the sun is brighter at 6,000 ft. Please send sunglasses and/ or a hat that shades the eyes.
  • Chapstick - the air in the mountains is much drier than most people are used to at home. Chapstick/lip balm is needed throughout the day to keep lips from becoming chapped and uncomfortable.

Inside Clothes

  • Pajamas - please bring something to sleep in! sweats are fine. Silky lingerie not so much. Good ol' PJs are great!
  • Slippers or sandals to wear in the cabin - shower shoes are a good idea, too. Protect your feet - you'll be using them all week!
  • You can wear shorts in the cabin and to meals, but not on the trail. Don't wear them so short it's embarrassing.


  • Sleeping bag or warm blankets/sheets
  • Pillow (if you forget one, just stuff some clothes into a sweatshirt and that makes a great pillow!)


  • Towel and washcloth
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant (please bring stick or roll-on, not spray - see what not to bring for why)
  • Sunscreen, chapstick, lotion (it's very dry up here)
  • Note on bug repellant: we don't really have bugs here, because it is so dry, but if you must bring bug repellant, please bring lotion and NOT SPRAY to avoid "bug spray accidents."

Personal items

  • Camera - be sure to label it!!! Almost everyone brings up cameras, and many look alike. LABEL it before leaving home!!
  • Water bottle: we will have water bottles on the trail, but having your own will make your week much easier. They are also helpful for having in the cabins at night so you don't need to get up to get a drink. If you bring disposable bottles, please plan to re-use them (our water is good right out of the tap) and recycle them when you are done! Hint: shorter water bottles fit under the sink faucet to refill more easily.
  • Pencils, pens, paper - You will be given a journal and homework every night - bring a pencil (or several)!
  • Flashlight - Be sure to label it!
  • A great attitude! This is going to be fun, fantastic week with your students! A positive attitude is your best insurance that you will have a great time.  Plus, it fits easily into any suitcase, even one that is already bursting at the seams!

Winter clothing (December, January, February, March)

In winter, in addition to the clothes listed above, you should also bring the following, if possible:

  • Extra extra socks!! Lots of them! If you have wool socks, even better!!
  • Waterproof snow boots are great if you have them, waterproofed high top hiking boots are pretty good, but if all you have is tennis shoes or low-topped boots, we do have insulated waterproof boots to loan you for the week. Still, if you step in a snowbank that is deeper than your boot is tall, you will have wet feet! So, again, bring extra socks!!
  • Warm Jacket - if you don't have a really warm jacket, layers work great, too. If needed, we also have some really warm jackets we can loan out for the week, so speak up if you are cold!
  • Waterproof layer -Snow is pretty dry when it falls, but when it hits your warm clothing, it melts and soaks in and you can get wet and cold. We have rain ponchos to loan out, if needed, but if you have a waterproof shell or poncho of your own, bring that up.
  • Warm Hat - approximately 90% of body heat is lost through your head (at least according to Cliff Clavin). Bring a warm hat! We do have some hats to loan out if you need one, but your own is always so much nicer! Don't forget to label it, or you might add to our collection of interesting hats...
  • Gloves or mittens - fingers get really cold, especially when they just can't resist picking up snow. Wool is great, insulated with a waterproof shell is great. Those little stretchy cotton gloves don't do much at all, and get wet easily, but they can be better than nothing sometimes. We do have warm gloves to loan out if needed, but they probably won't match! It's better to bring your own, and don't forget to label them, or you'll add to our collection!
  •  Long warm pants - if you have rain or snow pants, great! If not, bring extra pairs. Jeans and sweats, especially, will get very wet in snow, and you will need extra pairs to wear while your wet clothes are hanging up to dry in your cabin. In very snowy weather, expect to change clothes at least 3 times a day!
  • Long underwear - if you have long underwear, that's great! It's not absolutely necessary, but it will keep you more comfortable when it's really cold out.
  • LAYERS are always good - even in the winter, when the sun comes out, it can get warm, so being able to peel off those top layers will keep you more comfortable. And if it starts out warm, it can turn cold very quickly in the winter, so having that warm layer along in your backpack is a must.

What NOT to bring

This is the list of things we ask Students and Cabin Leaders NOT to bring.  Although it does not apply to Teachers, it's a good idea to take a look so that you are aware of what the students and cabin leaders should NOT have in their possession at Outdoor School.  Thanks!

  • Gum, Candy, food of any kind. We feed you 3 meals a day plus snacks, and you don't want any "uninvited guests" coming into the cabins and into your luggage! (and they will!)  If you have special dietary needs, please see our dietary needs page.
  • Radios - you will be listening to the "music of nature"! Wake up to the mountain rap of birds and squirrels!
  • Expensive toys - NO electronic games, Stereos, Walkmans, MP3 players, iPods, Gameboys, etc. We have two reasons for this:
    • We don't want anything to get lost or stolen that is expensive. This has not been a problem in the past, mainly because we don't allow these items to be brought up - we don't want any temptation to be there for such a thing. It could ruin your week.
    • We want you to try living for 5 short days without electronic entertainment! It could change your life - think about it... no TV, Video Games, or Stereo for 5 days... wow... you'll have to get into nature and make your own entertainment, and we think you'll like it! You just might learn something.
  • Knives (even the handy Swiss Army Knife - sorry!), matches, lighter, or anything else that you wouldn't be allowed to bring to school that could hurt people or property. We will be in charge of starting the fires for campfires - don't worry!
  • Make-up - c'mon! This is the great outdoors! We want you to spend cabin time working on homework, practicing your skit, cleaning up or playing games. It's definitely not a fashion contest. Except maybe for who has the best "hat-head"! Please - you can go without makeup of any kind except sunscreen and chapstick for one week. Time to let your natural beauty shine through!
  • Sprays of any kind - hair spray, bug spray (bring lotion if you must), cologne, etc. The cabins are too small with too many people using them that might be allergic or otherwise affected by breathing the sprays.
  •  Inappropriate clothing - no tank tops, short shorts, belly shirts, low rider pants that show your undies... you know, the ususal stuff you shouldn't wear to school! No inappropriate logos or slogans on tee shirts, either.
  • Cell phones or pagers or two-way radios: We do not allow students to have or use cell phones during Outdoor Science School.  You may bring your cell phone, but please do not use it in front of the students, for calling, texting, or browsing.  Thank you!
  • Expensive clothes or jewelry

Additional Packing List for Teachers

Below is a suggested list of items to pack for the students and cabin leaders you are bringing to Outdoor School.  Let us know if you have a any questions!

  • Snacks.  Although we provide all visitors with three meals and two snacks per day, your cabin leaders will be working hard spending 23 hours per day with the students.  They always appreciate some extra snack food, which can be stored in the Meadow House (teacher accommodation), and enjoyed during Cabin Leader breaks and days off.  If you are not able to provide snacks yourself, you can always let the cabin leaders know that they can bring their own snacks and store them in the Meadow House for the week.
  • Water bottles: We will provide water to students on the trail, but if each student has their own water bottle to use for the week, it makes their lives a lot easier, happier and healthier.  Encourage your students to bring their own water bottles, and if you would like to bring a case of disposable water bottles, we will have students without their own water bottles label and re-use one for the week.  
  • Pencils, pens, paper. You may want to jot down some notes during the week.  Students are given Outdoor School journals and will have homework every night.  We provide a pencil to borrow on the trail and in the cabin, but extra pencils are always welcome at any school - even outdoor school!
  • Medicine.  Blue Sky Meadow does not have a doctor or nurse on site.  We are not legally allowed to administer medicine to students or cabin leaders.  As the classroom teacher, it is your responsibility to collect and hold all medicine from the students. Prescriptions can be administered as needed, according to doctor / parent orders.  We can help you to collect medicine from the students if you have not already done so upon arrival.
  • Flashlights. Encourage students and especially cabin leaders to bring a flashlight.  If anyone forgets, we have flashlights to borrow!
  • Mail.  You may collect mail for your students from their parents at school on the morning you leave for OSS, or the week before.  Students love getting mail from home during their week away.

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