“Wonderful! This is an experience the children will remember their ENTIRE lives. Lots of cool activities, beautiful environment, very nice facilities. Such a great time/place!” “The Volcano Outdoor School educators were phenomenal. They were energetic, patient, kind, and engaging. Thank you!” “Very hands-on, science based experience with a big dose of outdoor and team-based learning. Tons of fun. Great teachers. Great mix of theory and practice.”



Volcano Outdoor School Overnight Programs provide a unique, interdisciplinary, fully-immersive experience that supports Next Generation Science Standards.  

Throughout the program, students explore the world around them, using scientific tools, recording field observations, working in a team, sharing and discussing ideas, creating art, and reflecting on the environment and themselves. 

In our ecology programs, students investigate themes of disturbance, succession and renewal.  

In our geology programs, students investigate themes of scale, human connections to geologic processes, and interactions between earth systems.  


Whether your class is able to be at Mount St. Helens for 1 hour or for 6 hours, Volcano Outdoor School day programs are a fantastic way to make the most out of a day experience with hands-on, experiential learning!  Our education team chooses activities based on the stated learning goals of the group, age of students, group size, season, weather and staff availability. Specific activities may be available upon request.

  • Maximum group size: Dependent on activities and staff availability 
  • Student:educator ratio: Dependent on group size, activities and staff availability 
  • Duration: 1-6 hours
  • Times: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Custom times available upon request.
  • Cost: 
    • $13/person/hour (Minimum: $500/day)
    • 1 teacher/group leader free
    • Financial assistance may be available for low-income groups


Most Volcano Outdoor School programs are based at the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center located in the heart of the 1980 eruption blast zone.  In this place where the 1980 eruption scraped and scoured the land, students investigate the past and present geology and ecology at work.  Field trips may include at other locations such as Ape Cave, Trail of Two Forests, Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Seaquest State Park, and more. These locations are available on a case-by-case basis. 

“A must do for Washington kids. The history, the science, the event are all so relevant.” “Profound. unimaginably successful. A paradigm shifter for the classroom." “I heard voices that tend to be quiet in the classroom.”


1. Consider your date availability. Our form asks you to submit 3 possible date options. Our calendar of date availability is not currently available. Please note that available dates are subject to group size, staff availability, and facility availability.  

2. Read our program policiesNote that groups are required to provide chaperone support at a ratio of 1:5 chaperones per students for overnight trips and 1:8 chaperones per students for day trips.

3. Read our Frequently Asked Questions.  Email learn@mshinstitute.org with any other questions or for further information.

4. Complete the non-binding INQUIRY FORM and FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FORM (if applicable)

  • Include your top three dates and share any information about your flexibility, the limits of your flexibility (ex: any Thursday in June), and dates you cannot come.
  • For 2023 programs, priority dates will be given to schools/groups that complete the Inquiry Form by October 31. Schools may inquire at any time after October 31 and inquiries will be evaluated at the end of each month. 
    • We will do our best to accommodate your dates based on our availability, previous Volcano Outdoor School participation, and our priorities based on grant funding. 
    • We will notify you of the proposed date(s) and any financial support in mid November. If the proposed date(s) are not acceptable, we will work with you to find a suitable date. 
    • Once we have agreed on a date, we will send you a Program Agreement for you to sign and return to us. 


US Forest Service, WA Recreation & Conservation Office No Child Left Inside, WA State Parks, Honorable Frank L and Arlene G Price Foundation, Autzen Foundation, Outdoor Schools WA, Chevron, Goodfellow Bros., Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and BNSF Railway Foundation.



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Mount St. Helens Institute operates under a special use permit from the US Forest Service, WA State Parks and is honored to work on the Traditional Cultural Property, ancestral and present day lands of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Mount St. Helens Institute is an equal opportunity provider.