Hi, I'm Margaret, the founder of The Elements, D.C. Thanks so much for taking the time to check us out. Let me tell you what we're all about!

How it started

My happiest childhood memories were when I was outside, whether it was on horseback or hiking or playing Kick the Can in my neighborhood, I was in my element outdoors. I learned the value of hard work from summers working on a family farm, digging post holes and weeding the vegetable garden and when I went to college in Vermont, I had a unique job as a dairy maid, milking 93 brown Swiss cows each morning.These experiences impacted me on a cellular level.

Raising 4 kids in Washington DC makes outdoor time challenging but we quickly realized the wealth of natural wonders in our city. We would head to the local woods almost every afternoon, regardless of weather or dimming daylight. We would savor the fresh air, space to explore and time with pals and pets. We'd come home invigorated. After realizing the benefits of these afternoons and seeing the potential, I started The Elements DC in 2007.


Off the grid, into the woods

For the programs for kids, we focus on outdoor activities that don’t happen in the rectangles of classrooms, houses, playing fields or screens. This organized yet unstructured play includes things like building woodland shelters, damming up creeks, climbing fallen trees, simulating heroic treks of famous explorers and so on. We accept 20–25 kids at each session, break into crew-guided groups of 5 to 7 and head into the woods for 75 minutes of wintry adventure!


Great for us big kids, too

As The Elements kids' programs grew and expanded, the parents marveled at the remarkable affects that the time in the woods had on their children. The kiddos would arrive on a cold, drizzly afternoon, moody and tired from the school day and an hour later, be rosy cheeked and happy. Adults also need that 'grounding' and asked for Elements offerings for adults. We listened! The time outside, active and grounded, whether for a few hours or overnight is a remarkable departure from the rig-a-ma-roll of our busy lives.


Research Proves it's worthwhile

You feel it and likely know from your own experience what wonders even a short walk outside can do for your energy, happiness, and  ability to focus and  now there's science that proves it. Check out the research at www.childrenandnature.org that proves the benefits of getting active outside.


We believe in Giving Back

One of our core values is giving back! As a way to live that in our actions, we have a special partnership with the City Kids Wilderness Program. Each winter, we hire City Kids high-schoolers as Elements Crew/interns and we donate a percentage of profits from our kids programming to CKWP. Through our adult offerings, We highlight and support our local treasures by hosting Elements experiences that highlight and benefit local non-profit organizations. Past partnerships have been with Potomac Conservancy, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy and National Park Trust. Goodness makes the world go 'round!

Join us

Go scope out the program details (for ADULTS and for KIDS), register, then take a step away from the screen! Hope to see you and your kiddos out in the woods or on the trail before long.


Margaret Rietano,