Colonial Living


Step back in time to see what colonial life was really like. Now you can experience a weekend in an outdoor 18th century campground, complete with cooking fires, tents, and the clothing of the day.

This program is designed to immerse participants in 18th century life, without compromising health and safety. Approximately 25 participants will spend the weekend in the year 1771.

Program Details

Food: Food is cooked by the participants over an open fire. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated. A root cellar is available for cool storage.
Water: We drink clean municipal water from a tap; it is located discreetly in the woods, and we fill pottery vessels with this water periodically.
Toilet Facilities: One of our first tasks upon arriving is to dig a slit trench– a hole in the ground, with surrounding tarps for privacy. We allow the small anachronism of toilet paper, though participants are welcome to use leaves if they desire.
Sleeping: We all sleep in cotton A-frame tents; wool blankets are also provided. Further sleeping equipement must be brought by the participants.
Materials Provided: A small storage building holds all the equipment we will need for cooking, eating, and setting up tents. Some tools (draw knife, bow saw, splitting maul) are provided; participants may bring their own hand tools if they desire.
Light: We dip candles during the day so that we will have light at night. Candles are made of beeswax and tallow, and placed in tin lanterns.
Shelter: A large, open pavilion is available for shelter in case of rain; tents can be moved under this shelter.
Fire Safety: During the night, we hold a rotating “fire watch”– everyone, in pairs, signs up for a 2-hour slot during the night to keep the cook fire and candles burning.
Activities: These depend on the participants’ wishes! When they sign up, participants fill out an activity preference sheet, so that the program can be tailored to everyone’s interests. Past activities have included hand spinning wool, woodworking, making natural cosmetics, farming on the nearby recreated 1771 farm, and going for a nature hike in the surrounding woods.
Surroundings: The Environmental Living Center is located in a wooded area, near but not visible from the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s office.
Clothing: All participants must wear some approximation of colonial clothing. (We are happy to give guidelines and suggestions.) For a $25 fee, participants may rent a set of clothes from the Farm.

More information can be found in the CLE Handbook (1MB .pdf). Pictures of the facilities can be found on the Environmental Living page (the two programs share facilities, though not at the same time)


The program begins with a Wednesday evening training session, from 6-8pm on the Wednesday before the weekend program. The weekend program begins Friday evening and continues through 12 noon on Sunday.

  June 25         Wednesday   CLE Training

  June 27-29   Fri-Sun.        CLE Encampment


The fee for this program is $95 per person. Anyone not able to provide their own 18th century clothing can rent it from the Farm for an additional $25. A non-refundable deposit of $25 is required with your application. The remaining $70 is due by the Wednesday training prior to the weekend program.


Participants must be at least 6 years of age. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Minors aged 16 and up may participate unaccompanied, with parental consent. All must be able to physically participate in colonial activities at a primitive camp site. All are required to attend the Wednesday training session prior to the weekend program. Paid reservations are required. For further information  contact , Or you can download the CLE-Application-2014.

We reserve the right to cancel the program due to insufficient participation; anyone with a reservation for a cancelled program will receive a full refund.

Moon Guidebooks Top 10 DC

Moon Guidebooks:

Rates Claude Moore Colonial Farm One of the

This spring break, Patricia Nevins Kime—respected journalist and author of the first edition of Moon Washington DC—offers her selections for ten can’t-miss activities, perfect for kids and their chaperones.

"7. Claude Moore Colonial Farm: Something’s always being grown, harvested, dyed, dried, or crafted at Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia, a rendition of a modest circa-1771 frontier farm."