Chesapeake Bay Studies

Bay Studies 2022

May 23 - 27, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. daily

By using the Chesapeake Bay as a microcosm, Chesapeake Bay Studies (Bay Studies) increases awareness of the Chesapeake Bay and our relationship and responsibility to the natural environment. Students develop a deep sense of history and understanding of economic and social issues.

Bay Studies incorporates all disciplines in its exploration of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. A week long program, Bay Studies draws on both outside agencies such as Outward Bound, Echo Hill Outdoor School, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Sultana Foundation, as well as Gunston's own faculty to explore the various components of life in and around the Bay including environmental studies, history, and social and cultural influences. Primarily experiential, Bay Studies incorporates field trips, analysis of primary sources, in-depth study of specific topics, discussion, journal writing, lab work, computer analysis, and lots and lots of fun.


  • Daily bus and van transportation will occur at the normal bus times
  • Transportation is provided for all off-campus and overnight travel. 
  • Carpooling groups may be assigned together to facilitate transportation 

Packing Lists, Waivers, and Medical Forms

  • Completed waivers and medical forms must be received by May 9th at 4:30 pm.
  • A recommended packing list is included for each workshop.
  • Please reach out to Ms. Beck with any questions. 

Difficulty rating system

1: Day trips, minimal physical activity
2: Day or short overnight trips, walking/standing for 1-2 hours
3: Overnight trip, standing/walking for 4-5 hours daily
4: Overnight trip, standing/walking/climbing/paddling for 5-6 hours daily
5: Overnight backcountry trip with standing/walking/paddling/climbing for 6-8 hours daily

Comfort Rating

1: Day trips
2: Day or short overnight trips, hotel, flush toilets and showers
3: Overnight trip with guest house/motel accommodations 
4: Overnight trip with bunkhouse accommodations,  composting toilets, no showers.
5: Overnight trip with tent/backcountry accommodations & primitive bathroom facilities (or lack thereof)



9th & 10th Grade 
Skipjack Elsworth

Chesapeake Heritage

How have boats been used to travel and fish the Bay? What is the state of the Chester River watershed? With the past as perspective, students will explore Chesapeake’s natural/human history and culture during a four-night stay on board the Annie D. and the skipjack Elsworth.

Driving Question: How have boats been used to travel and fish the Bay?
Away Overnight (Monday-Friday)  |  Difficulty: 2  | Comfort: 4

Smith Island, Maryland

Oysters for the Bay 

This program, led in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, takes students to study and stay on Smith Island where students research and experience the Bay first hand. Day trips on Monday and Friday further explore the role of oysters in restoring the Bay. (COVID19 vaccination required)

Driving questions: What role do oysters play in restoring the health of the Bay and how are they impacted by climate change?
Away overnight (Tuesday - Thursday)  |  Difficulty: 3  |  Comfort: 3

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Forests for the Bay 

Led in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this program will take students to Bishops Head in Maryland’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to learn about the natural history and ecology of this remote area. Day trips on Thursday and Friday will introduce students to the parameters by which Bay health is measured and the importance of forest in protecting the Bay. (COVID19 vaccination required)

Driving questions: What role do forests play in the health of the Chesapeake Bay and how are forests being impacted by climate change?
Away overnight (Monday - Wednesday)  |  Difficulty: 3  |  Comfort: 3

Patricia Campbell Research Vessel Chesapeake Bay FOundation

The Bay Report Card 

Learn and experience the Chesapeake Bay through a variety of day trips in the region. Students will travel on research vessels, paddle canoes, and conduct water quality sampling in several tributaries. Students finish the week understanding how the health of the Bay is assessed.

Driving questions: What factors contribute to the Chesapeake Bay Report Card?
Day Trips (Monday - Friday)  |  Difficulty: 2  |  Comfort: 1

The Watershed in Miniature

Explore the Delmarva Peninsula and its quiet, scenic waterways by canoe as you paddle key stretches of the Chester River from its headwaters. Students finish the week understanding how the health of the Bay is assessed and experience the Bay firsthand.  

Driving Question: What is the state of the Chester River watershed? 
Day Trips (Monday - Friday) | Difficulty 2 | Comfort 2


10th & 11th Grade 
Implanting a sturgeon tag, UMCES

Fish Biology

Offered in partnership with Sultana Education Foundation, this course will examine past and present fisheries management practices and investigate future strategies for sustainable resource use.  The week offers students who love to fish the opportunity to learn more about the science that underlies current regulations. Students will travel to UMCES to learn about the sturgeon recovery program, participate in community science research tagging rockfish, and have the opportunity to camp and paddle near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Driving Question: What efforts are underway to restore fish populations in the Chesapeake Bay? 
Away overnight (Tuesday-Friday)  | Difficulty: 3    Comfort: 5       

Harriet Tubman Museum

African American History 

African Americans have played a vital role in the history and development of the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore. Through visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C, The Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, and various historical places in Annapolis, students will come to a closer understanding of the importance of African Americans in the development of the region and the struggles they faced. A culminating project will focus on local African American history. 

Driving Question: Who’s history is the history of the Chesapeake Bay? 
Day Trips  | Difficulty: 1    Comfort: 1

Environmental Engineering

In this hands-on course students will design and build projects that apply engineering principles to environmental challenges. Students will build circuits powered by photovoltaic cells which can run motors and light up LEDs. Along the way the students will learn how photovoltaic cells work and how to measure and optimize the electric power they produce. Second, they will learn to build systems to purify waste water and remove contaminants. Teams will compete to build and operate the most effective systems. Students will build and launch rockets with cameras to explore our local environment from the sky. They will also have an opportunity to build ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) with sensors to explore the underwater environment. Together, these projects are intended to inspire students to put their engineering skills to work exploring and preserving the environment.  

Driving Question: How can we use technology to solve environmental challenges?
Day trips |  Difficulty: 1  |  Comfort: 1

Iron Chef Bay Studies 2021

Iron Chef, Chesapeake

Food production and farming are critical parts of our local environment. This year’s focus is on the culinary side of the farm-to-table trend. Be ready to tromp through fields and carry the harvest to the kitchen!  Through this experience, students will learn basic cooking skills, cook on a daily basis, and focus on local farms and restaurants around the Chesapeake.

Driving Question: How is food grown, produced, and served in our region?
Day trips |  Difficulty: 1/2  |  Comfort: 1

Book Binding

Make/Do: Books and the Written Word

The Eastern Shore is home to a thriving artisan community that is deeply connected to the Chesapeake Bay.  During this week students will visit several maker spaces and have the opportunity to explore bookbinding, printmaking, and the written word while completing an innovative portfolio.  

Driving Question: How can the written word convey a sense of place?
Day trips |  Difficulty: 1  |  Comfort: 1

 Chesapeake Bay Program A trail of caves, karst and other wonders

Wilderness + Literature

American literary greats were inspired by their time in nature and created the transcendentalist movement.  Spend three days immersed in nature as you backpack along the Appalachian Trail and go spelunking in the Chesapeake watershed karst region.   

Driving Question: What are the connections between literature and wilderness?
Away Overnight (Monday-Thursday) |  Difficulty: 5  |  Comfort: 5


11th & 12th Grade 
Michael O. Snyder, Environmental Film Festival

The Coming Coast  Project - Digital Media Storytelling

Inspired by the work of Michael Snyder, students will investigate climate change and sea-level rise in the region and prepare a digital media story depicting the predicted sea-level rise in their hometown. 

Driving Question: How will you be impacted by climate change?
Day Trips |  Difficulty: 2  |  Comfort: 1

Annapolis, Maryland

Climate Change in Urban Environments

Investigate how climate change is affecting urban environments on this hands-on course. Students will measure and monitor the urban “heat island,” explore the impacts of increased frequency and volume of rainfall events on impervious surfaces, and explore the urban jungle. Day trips to Ellicott City, Baltimore, and Annapolis.  

Driving Question: How are urban environments uniquely vulnerable to climate change?
Day Trips |  Difficulty: 2-3  |  Comfort: 1-2

Tangier Island

Islands Out of Time

Offered in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and based on Tangier Island, students will investigate the threat of sea-level rise tied to climate change.  From glacial rebound to the impact of a meteor strike millions of years ago to melting glaciers, factors affecting water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are complex and dynamic.  Students will engage in hands-on investigations, real-world simulations, and utilize digital mapping software to understand the impact of sea-level change. (COVID19 vaccination required)

Driving Question: How are the Bay’s islands impacted by climate change?
Away overnight (Monday - Wednesday)  |  Difficulty: 3  |  Comfort: 4

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Comparative Watershed Trip
OBX - Increased Frequency and Severity of Storms

A barrier island system that shares many similarities with the Delmarva Peninsula but has been subjected to a greater frequency of severe storms will provide the backdrop for the group’s study of climate science.  The week will include an overnight kayak camping trip, visits to lighthouses, and community service in the storm-affected areas.       

Driving Question: How are barrier islands impacted by climate change and severe storms?
Away overnight (Sunday- Friday)  |  Difficulty: 4-5  |  Comfort: 3-4

Delaware Bay

Comparative Watershed Trip
Delaware Bay

Under development: paddling in the Delaware Water Gap and overnight, ride the ferry to Cape May, and helping monitor horseshoe crab spawning.       

Driving Question: 
Away overnight (Monday- Tuesday)  |  Difficulty: 3-4  |  Comfort: 3

Hudson Rivers

Hudson Rivers

Under development: hiking and camping in the Adirondacks or Catskills, meetings with RiverKeepers and restoration organizations, and more      

Driving Question: How are barrier islands impacted by climate change and severe storms?
Away overnight (Sunday- Friday)  |  Difficulty: 3-4  |  Comfort: 3