Matt, Nick and Alex Markoff
13015 Rileys Lock Road
Experiencing the outdoors is the best way to learn life skills, says Calleva co-founder Matt Markoff.
“Our goal, specifically, is to get kids outdoors,” he says. “It’s easy to be comfortable; you learn more about yourself when you’re uncomfortable.”
Calleva, founded by Matt with brothers Nick and Alex in 1993, began as a small summer camp. In the 24 years since, the family business has grown to encompass a variety of summer camps, wilderness educational experiences, environmental education and small-scale sustainable farming.
“We do outdoor education for 80 schools in the Washington, D.C. area, working with about 1,000 kids a week, from kindergarten through 12th grade,” says Matt.
The nearby Potomac River and C&O Canal National Historic Park serve as an artery to the outdoors. “It’s unbelievable how many times we take students who live or go to school right around the corner from the Potomac River but are just seeing it for the first time with us. Exposing kids to the outdoors, it’s awesome,” says Matt.
From snow club—ski with Calleva on Friday nights this winter—to liquid adventures (kayaking and more), rock-climbing, survival skills, art in nature, horseback riding,
camping, woodland adventures and farm fun, Calleva offers something year-round for everyone, ages 3-18. And these outdoor adventures enable kids to be someone different, do something different and learn something deeper about themselves, says Matt.
“Kids go to school and everything feels scripted—their roles and social scenes,” he says. “You have a clean slate at Calleva, you don’t have to act like you do at school. Sometimes the most reserved, soft-spoken kids have tremendous leadership qualities and we love bringing them out. We encourage kids to show different sides of themselves.”