News

ODL Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

The Outdoor Lab staff and board celebrate Native American Heritage Month.  We reflect on the great contributions of Native peoples to our Commonwealth and Country and strive to learn and tell their stories of achievement.  The land of the Outdoor Lab was originally settled by Manahoac peoples, a Siouxan speaking tribal alliance, which descended from Mississippian mound building cultures.  They originally inhabited the Ohio River valley region, with one group migrating east, sometimes called the Eastern Sioux, and another migrating West.

The Manahoac had little interaction with the English colonists in Jamestown and were shielded by the Powhatan confederacy on the coast and Tidewaters.  In addition to diseases introduced by Spanish and English explorers, the Manahoac faced pressure from the Haudenosaunee confederacy (Six Nations of Iroquois) and Susquehannock tribes (Iroquoian speaking, also known as Conestoga) who raided their Piedmont homes. The Manahoac migrated South toward the related Monacan tribes and eventually merged with them and the Siouxan speaking Tutelo, Saponi, and Occaneechi.

What we have learned about the Manahoac culture comes from the few interactions documented by Europeans, often through translators from rival tribes,  and their archaeological record.  They were semi-nomadic and followed the animals they hunted including Deer, Bear, and Eastern Buffalo.  They generally settled near streams and rivers and built palisaded villages with small round or oval dwellings covered with reeds and bark.  They grew the Three Sisters of corn, squash and beans and managed their game lands by prescribed burning of forests.

In 1608,  colonist John Smith explored up the Rappahannock river to its headwaters and documented various tribes and settlements of the Manahoac.  Smith captured a wounded Manahoac warrior named Amorolec who told Smith about the tribes of the Manahoac, their enemies and related tribes who lived from the Fall Line up to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia’s rivers. The Whonkentia were settled in current Fauquier County and we can assume from artifacts found at the Outdoor Lab that other Manahoac tribes were living along Broad Run and its tributaries here at the present Outdoor Lab.

In 1754, Thomas Jefferson observed native peoples conducting ceremonies at a burial mound near his Monticello home in Albemarle County, Virginia.    He later dug into the mound and recorded his findings in an organized fashion as part of his Notes on the State of Virginia (1787).  Jefferson is recognized as an early archaeologist for this work.

The Monacan nation exists today and in 2018 became a federally recognized tribe with tribal land at Bear Mountain in Amherst County, Virginia.  The Monacan nation recognizes the Manahoac as part of their ancestors.  A living history presentation of a Monacan Village can be seen at Natural Bridge State Park.

The Outdoor Lab encourages you to learn more about the Manahoac and other native peoples and their rich history, culture and accomplishments in our history.

Oct 17th OPEN HOUSE 10a-4p*

The Outdoor Lab Open House is scheduled for Sunday October 17th 10a-1p and 1p-4p.  

The Outdoor Lab welcomes all Arlington Families to the Open House. Grab your “pod” and explore our 226 acres of mountain trails, meadows, streams and pond.  While at the Lab, your family can: 

  • fish in the pond (cane poles & worms provided!)
  • hike our trails (over 5 miles, various hiking abilities)
  • observe critters in our Nature Center (admission in small groups)
  • find a perfect spot for a family picnic! (bring your lunch!)
Get your Tickets!

Due to COVID, we need families to pre-register through Eventbrite here.

  • Please choose EITHER 10a-1p ticket OR 1p-4p ticket (NOT BOTH) This will allow us to meet COVID limits and allow as many families as we can.
  • Each ticket is for one Carload. Please do NOT register for a ticket for each person in your car.
  • Tickets are “donate what you can.” The Outdoor Lab is owned by the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (a 501c3, tax exempt organization)
  • We will create a waitlist if needed, if your plans change and you don’t plan to come, please let us know

For the Safety of Visitors:

  • all visitors must sign in
  • masks must be worn while inside and when social distancing is not possible
  • NO Dogs allowed
  • please leave only footsteps and take only pictures
Other Info

While at the lab, talk to AOEA board members about the upcoming capital projects or how you could volunteer.  We’re looking for additional board members and have lots of great projects on our plate! 

You can find Directions here, look for signs and volunteers on where to park.

Bad weather, check back here for cancellations or updates.  An Open House Rain Date has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday October 24th 10a-4p. 

We look forward to seeing you!  

Share your pictures and tag #LovetheODL 

CasualAdventure Sock-tober for ODL

Casual Adventure, a long-time Outdoor Lab Supporter and an APS family, has chosen to donate 20% of their Sock-tober promotion to the Outdoor Lab.

Casual Adventure Outfitters is teaming up with @Smartwool and celebrating #Socktober by donating 20% of our sock sales to the @arlingtonoutdoorlab @apsvirginia.

So you can get great deals on great socks and support the ODL! Get your socks:

Get outfitted for your next Outdoor adventure and support the Outdoor Lab!

ODL celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association and the Outdoor Lab Staff celebrate national Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 – Oct 15 annually)

We honor the many Hispanic Americans who have contributed to our schools, community and country.  And celebrate our Latinx students who contribute their talents, skills and culture in all schools every day.

Fall Family Hikes @ the ODL

Looking for somewhere to go on a weekend?  The Outdoor Lab invites members of the Arlington Community to hike our Trails and enjoy the Outdoors. Sound like a good time?  Here are the details:

  • Sign up before you come.  (Click HERE for our EventBrite Page)
  • Each sign up slot admits one carload of people.
  • Sign up slots for morning OR afternoon.  Check the date and time carefully!  (show up at any time during your morning or afternoon window.)
  • No pets!  Sorry!
  • Masks are required when in the bathrooms and when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Follow the arrows to keep traffic flowing in one direction on the trails. This keeps everyone safe!
  • Protect the land by following the “leave no trace” philosophy. Dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, be considerate of other visitors, stay on trails, and respect wildlife
  • Release Form must be signed by all participants.  Find Release Forms HERE.  (Save time and fill out before you arrive.  We’ll have some on hand as well )
  • Check in with an AOEA board member before you get started.
  • Gates close at 4 pm sharp, don’t get locked in!

Every little bit helps!  To support the Outdoor Lab’s educational programs and help reach more Arlington students, a suggested donation of $20 per car is welcomed but not mandatory.  We can always use help collecting kindling, just leave neatly stacked by wood piles. (Thanks!)

So put on your hiking shoes, dress for the weather, and come and enjoy the beauty of The Outdoor Lab on a beautiful weekend this Fall.

Directions can be found on our website.  Click Here for DIRECTIONS

Fall Events- Visit the ODL

We love to welcome families to the Outdoor Lab on Weekends.

Come see what your APS students are raving about.  Enjoy the fresh air, immerse yourself in nature, and relax in the mountains.

We’re only 45 minutes from Arlington.(directions here)  Pack a lunch and plan a family activity.

Fall 2021 activities are below.  Due to COVID, we need all visitors to register via Eventbrite.  (check back for links to each event below.)

ODL @ the ArlCo Fair 2021

Visit the Outdoor Lab’s Booth (M13) at the 45th Annual Arlington County Fair starting Friday August 20 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and surrounding grounds, at 3501 2nd Street S.

After your Goat Yoga and before the Pig Races, cool off inside and visit the Outdoor Lab Booth!

Join us at the Arlington County Fair:

  • Fri   August 20 4p – 10p
  • Sat  August 21 10a – 9p
  • Sun August 22 11a – 7p

ODL supports LGBTQ+ Pride

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month!

The Outdoor Lab is welcoming to All Students and Families, no matter their sexual identity or orientation.

Please join us in celebrating and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in Arlington and our world.

Sat June 5th- ODL CampIN!

The 2nd Annual Great Outdoor Lab CampIN!

Join us on Saturday, June 5th 5-8pm for the Great Outdoor Lab CampIN! Set up a pillow fort inside your home, or set up a tent in your yard.

We know the Outdoor Lab Camp-Out is a highlight for our 5th Grade Students. Since we can’t host them at the Lab this year, we wanted to share the fun — virtually — with everyone!

How to participate:

Make your plans for camping indoors or outside in your yard — planning is half of the fun!

    • What supplies do you need? Flashlights? Pillows? Sleeping bags or blankets?
    • How can your family pitch in to help?

JOIN US! Tonight from 5-8pm check our stream on Facebook to see how the Outdoor Lab celebrates the CampIN with snacks, games, and campfire stories!

    • What might you see and hear during your campIN? Check it out!
    • Dust off your best campfire stories and get ready to share with your family!
    • Visit the Outdoor Lab Trade Secrets page — we’re letting our secrets out for a limited time!

SHARE WITH US!!!  We want this to be a community event and to share (virtually) in the fun with you!

    • We’re using DropEvent for you to share pictures of you and your crew in the Great Outdoor Lab CampIN!
    • Ask an adult to share pictures to the Outdoor Lab’s FacebookInstagram, and Twitter pages!
    • However you choose to share, remember to use #CampIN
Have a last minute need- Shop Local

Need new batteries for your flashlight or lantern?  Or a tarp or rope?  Local Arlington stores have all the supplies you need, check some out below:

Casual Adventure

A long-time supporter of the Outdoor Lab, and owned by an APS Family, Casual Adventure has everything you need for backyard camping, scouting or big adventures.

Ayer’s Variety & Hardware
Bill’s True Value Hardware
Cherrydale Hardware
Twins Ace Hardware