Shipboard Environmental Education in Baltimore

For more information on any of our Shipboard programs, please contact Nick Iannacone

Living Classrooms Foundation has provided unique hands-on, interdisciplinary and environmental education programs aboard historic ships and on land since 1985. These dynamic, “learning by doing” programs emphasize applied learning in math, science, social studies, language arts, and social skills.

The programs serve students from a variety of backgrounds and economic means and range in length from one-day expeditions for school and youth groups to extended shipboard and land/sea programs. Participants see how academic skills are used in the real world. Leadership and teamwork are key objectives as students work together to raise and lower sails, trawl for marine life, perform scientific tests and explore the commerce, history, natural resources, and ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay.

Living Classrooms shipboard education programs serve thousands of students per year from throughout the region aboard the Foundation’s floating classrooms including schooner Lady Maryland, Chesapeake Buyboats Mildred Belle and Half Shell, and Skipjacks Sigsbee and Minnie V.


Students and adults were served with hands-on environmental STEM education and maritime history in 2019


Average student score on the marine environmental learning post-assessment

Use the links below to prepare for your Chesapeake Bay adventure!

Student Corner

Teacher Corner

Here you will find links to documents that are designed to help you prepare your students for a shipboard program with Living Classrooms Foundation. You haven’t scheduled a program with us? Please contact Nick Iannacone or at 410-685-0295 x 228 to do so immediately! Please be sure to check out the student section of this website. There are many pages your students may find helpful in preparing for this adventure. There are even some on-line quizzes they can complete to see how well prepared they are!

Likewise, you may want to guide the parents of your students to the parent section. This site was designed to answer many of the frequent questions and concerns parents have about our programs.

Parent Corner

Thank you for taking the time to look at our website. Hopefully the information here will help ease some of your concerns and answer questions about your child’s upcoming trip with the Living Classrooms Foundation Shipboard Program! Living Classrooms Foundation has been operating in Baltimore since 1985 when the then “Lady Maryland Foundation” built our flagship, the pungy schooner Lady Maryland. We’ve had students involved in our program from the very start; they even helped cut down the first tree we used to build Lady Maryland.

Safety is our primary concern and is at the forefront of every program. The vessels in our shipboard department are US Coast Guard certified and they meet or exceed all applicable safety regulation. They are inspected annually by our local Coast Guard officials. Our captains are US Coast Guard licensed and each has many years of experience sailing with students. The rest of our crew receives intensive staff training at the start of each season. This training includes Wilderness First Aid and CPR from SOLO schools in New Hampshire. Throughout the year the crews receive additional training, including running frequent drills on how to handle various emergency situations. Please rest assured, in the 25 years we’ve been running shipboard programs we’ve never had a student fall overboard.

Please read on. We’re confident that many of your questions will be answered. If you still have concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Captain Peter Bolster, our Director of Shipboard Operations 410-685-0295 x 266.

How big are the boats?

Lady Maryland is a 104′ pungy schooner and Sigsbee is a 78′ skipjack. Both boats are very sturdy and well equipped learning platforms for students.

Do the students wear life jackets?

All passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear life jackets. The only exception is during very hot weather when the heat index would make it more dangerous for the child to be in a very warm life jacket. This decision is not made lightly and our captains will always consult with a teacher or chaperone before permitting students to remove life jackets. Adults are always offered jackets but are not required.

Where will the boat be going during the trip?

For trips that are running out of Baltimore, the group will generally meet the boats at out pier at 1417 Thames Street, Baltimore MD 21231. Once under way the boat will take the students throughout the Patapsco River, generally no further out than the Key Bridge (approximately 7 miles). Because the river is so narrow land is always within site. On days when the weather is less than ideal, or if the forecast predicts chances of threatening weather, we won’t go out any further than Ft. McHenry. The Patapsco is not a very open river and there are generally places we can go to try and hide from the worst of the wind and rain.

What if there is rain predicted? Thunderstorms? Flooding?

Our trips run rain or shine! What kind of outdoor education program is going to cancel just because of a little rain? Thunder and lightning are causes for concern and may delay or cause a trip to end early. If there is the rare case of a storm starting mid day (this happens VERY rarely in Baltimore) the students will be put below decks and the boat will head for the nearest safe dock. Flooding is not a concern for our programs since a boat is the perfect place to be during a flood!

If Gale force winds are predicted the boat will not go out. We are very adept at running dock side programs so if the winds are too strong we will just do everything tied up at dock.

While it might not be unsafe to be out in cold, wet weather, we do our best to keep students comfortable. We are constantly monitoring the weather, children’s comfort and safety, and communicating with the teacher. If it is just too unpleasant underway to continue learning we can come back to the dock and do dock side programming.

Living Classrooms very rarely cancels programs due to bad weather.

What if my child gets seasick? What if they’ve never been on a boat and we don’t know how he will react?

As we tell students who ask us this – we’re on a river, who’s ever heard of getting river sick? In all seriousness we realize that people react differently to each boating experience. The Patapsco and other rivers that we operate on are generally calm bodies of water and seasickness is not typically an issue. As long as a student eats breakfast they should be ok. If a student is feeling ill we’ll usually give them some crackers and water, give them a few minutes to compose themselves and they get them right back into the program. Generally speaking the students are too busy learning and having fun to focus or even acknowledge a queasy stomach.

What if my child gets sick or injured? What if there is an emergency on the boat?

Again, your child’s safety is our number one priority. Our staff are all Wilderness First Aid and CPR trained. While the typical injuries we deal with are splinters and sunburn we are well equipped and ready for anything. The boats all have extensive first aid equipment aboard. If the injury is minor we will be communicating with the teacher about the situation. If something major occurs we will handle it in the most logical manner and are not at all reluctant to call in the US Coast Guard, or Marine Police for assistance. Additionally we would of course be in touch with the student’s family. It is important that you provide all requested medical information for your student so we are well informed in the event of an emergency.

What if my child has severe allergies?

If your child is able to attend school, they should be able to attend our programs. We just need to know about allergies ahead of time. If your child carries an epi-pen, please be sure to send it along with him or her. Make sure your student’s teacher knows where the epi-pen is. Our crew is all trained in administering epi-pens in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

Folks who have shellfish allergies are still able to participate in our programs, we just make sure they do not handle the animal life.

Will the boat tip over?

We’ve been running shipboard programs for 25 years and have an excellent safety record. Because we have sailboats it is common and normal for them to lean to one side or the other. This is called heeling. At times some water may even splash up over the side of the boat. It is nothing to cause concern and as soon as the boat’s course is changed it will likely end. Our crew is very aware of this and monitor or limit the student’s movement around the boat when it occurs.

How many crew are on the boat?

Generally speaking Lady Maryland will have a crew of 6 aboard while Sigsbee has a crew of 4. There are many times when we will have interns or volunteers aboard to lend an extra hand. Each group that comes out with us will have their own teachers and chaperones so there are plenty of adults to help keep an eye on students.

What should my child bring?

It is important that your child is dressed appropriately for the day. Extra layers are always a good idea. It is typically as much as 10 degrees cooler on the water than on land.

  • Close toed shoes. Sneakers are great, Crocs (or their equivalent are not acceptable), closed toed sandals Keens (or their equivalent) are fine.
  • Lunch – there is no place to buy lunch so please pack a lunch. We strive for trash free lunches and students will need to take their trash home with them.
  • Sunblock, hat, sunglasses, and water bottle- these are important all year long, not just in the summer

In case of rain – please be sure to send us a “water-proofed” student. Umbrellas are not allowed on board. Raincoat and rain pants are great. Snow pants are also a great option in cold rainy weather. There is no need to go out and buy rain gear just for this trip. Jeans and cotton sweatpants are not ideal clothing for rainy days; they absorb the rain and will just leave your student wet and cold for the day. Nylon track pants are a great alternative.

  • Permission slips – your child’s teacher will likely collect these before the program but please be sure to complete it and turn it in!
  • Cameras – this is optional but just fine. We’d suggest disposable cameras to reduce the chance of water-damage to a nicer camera.

Book a Trip

Want to book a trip?
Need more information?

To book a trip for your school, Scout, community group, or just a group of friends and family members please contact: Nick Iannacone

Scheduling and Marketing Coordinator
(410) 685-0295 x 228
E-mail: Nick Iannacone

Remember we offer full day, weekend, overnight and multi-day programs!!