Group of school kids playing

R.E.E.C.H. Program

Exploration at

Cape Henlopen State Park has been operating the REECH program since 1998, and the Nature Center has been running school programs since the 1970’s. The current REECH program focuses on hands-on investigation of our coastal ecosystem over a 2-day, 1-night session, with courses designed to meet the state standards.

Cape Henlopen State Park’s location readily facilitates investigating and learning about how ecosystems work. Students explore the diverse coastal habitats, including the Delaware Bay, sand dunes, maritime forests and coastal wetlands.

Experienced environmental educators, all holding college degrees, conduct students in engaging hands-on learning. This strategy prompts students to make claims about the Cape ecosystem based on evidence gathered from various observations made during the program.


The drive to Cape Henlopen State Park is under two hours from Baltimore, Philadelphia, or anywhere in Delaware or the Eastern Shore.

REECH operates out of the Park’s Nature Center and one of its Youth Camp facilities.

Indoor programs take place at the Nature Center’s auditorium, and can accommodate up to 60 participants. Most programming takes place in the park, exploring the environment.

Participants stay in dorm-style housing, with 15 beds per room. Separate bathhouse facilities (toilets and showers) and a mess hall are located within the youth camp facility. Participants must provide their own bedding, towels and toiletries.

The REECH facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. A beach wheel chair is also available to provide some access for most of the field programs.

Meals are catered and served buffet style. Dinner includes a hot entrée and salad. Breakfast is cold cereal and bagels/toast. Lunch is sandwiches and fruit. If a child has any dietary restrictions (allergies, vegetarian requests), please let us know as soon as possible. We will do our best to accommodate all requests. Refrigerator space is available for medications or other items.

No food is allowed in the dorm rooms.

Participants are responsible for cleaning the dorms and mess hall and for picking up their own trash. Park staff clean the restrooms daily.


REECH offers a custom hands-on, learning experience over a 2-day, 1-night period. Students collect samples, take measurements, make observations, and record data, with the goal of understanding how well the coastal ecosystem is functioning. The following Delaware state standards are addressed:

LS2.A – Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.B – Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
LS2.C – Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning and Resilience
LS2.D – Biodiversity and Humans

Below is a sample REECH schedule:

Day 1
10:30-11 a.m. Arrival at Youth Camp: Introduction, program outline
11 a.m. - Noon Settle in, Change for afternoon programs, Lunch (you bring)
Noon to 1 p.m. Program 1 – Ecosystem Overview at the Nature Center
1-3:30 p.m. Program 2 – Marine Ecology of DE Bay: Seining and Water Quality at the Nature Center
3:30-5 p.m. Clean-Up – Walk back to Youth Camp – Free Time (chaperoned)
6-7 p.m. Program 3 – Horseshoe Crab Ecology at the Nature Center
7:30-9 p.m. Program 4 – Night Hike: Sand Dunes Night Hike at Youth Camp
Day 2
8 a.m. Clean Dorms before Breakfast
8-8:30 a.m. Breakfast (provided) YC Mess Hall
8:30-8:50 a.m. Finish Cleaning Youth Camp + Prepare for Programs
8:50-11:30 a.m. Program 5 – Coastal Wetlands Ecology (salt marsh spur) at Youth Camp
11:30-12 Noon Check Out
12-12:30 p.m. Picnic Lunch (provided) In Youth Camp Area
12:45-2:30 p.m. Program 6 – Cape Connections at the Nature Center
2:30 p.m. Depart Cape


"The REECH program enhances our students learning, offering them the opportunity to engage in our science curriculum through hands-on activities. This experience allows our students to learn the science standards in a way that is impossible to imitate in our classrooms." – Christina Hastings, grade 7 teacher

“Excellent guides. Great hands-on. All the students really enjoyed this program.” – Donna Cleary, grade 8 teacher

“The program is great and instructors lead the kids to find answers on their own.” – Heather Dean, grade 8 teacher