Drey Land

Drey Land, the school’s wilderness camp in the Ozarks, is a valuable resource for orientation programs, biology field research, outdoor education and service outings.

A video made by our 2011-2012 computer video editing and digital audio technology students on the occasion of Drey Land's 40th anniversary appears at the bottom of the page.

drey-land-1.jpgA concern for nature has been central to a Burroughs education from the beginning. Our founders named the school for the American naturalist and essayist who was a key player in the evolution of the U.S conservation movement. But it is an alumnus's provision that has catalyzed an extensive program in ecology and outdoor education. In 1969, Leo Drey ’34 offered to lease 44 acres of Ozark woodland in the Pioneer Forest to the school for an annual fee of $1. Burroughs students and faculty maintain the property, which borders Sinking Creek, a clear, gravel-bottomed stream that is a tributary of the Current River. 

Throughout the years, the Burroughs community has built and maintained most of the facilities, including cabins, a pavilion, bathhouses and a main lodge (or dining hall). Faculty and students have also cleared miles of trail and have been acknowledged by the National Park Service. Drey Land remains a rustic retreat that serves a dual function as community builder and natural resource.

All seventh grade students spend three days at Drey Land in the fall as part of their orientation to Burroughs. The program focuses on teamwork, building a sense of community in the class, outdoor adventures and exploring the natural beauty of the area. Students often report this to be one of their favorite experiences at Burroughs, citing that it helps them get to know their classmates and feel more comfortable at the school.

Drey Land Plus is a weekend orientation for all new students entering Burroughs in ninth grade. Each of the new ninth graders is paired with a veteran Burroughs student for two and a half days to make friends and learn about the school and its many traditions. Since Drey Land is such an essential part of the seventh grade experience, this program gives all new students a similar familiarity with the "campus to the south." It also provides new students with a collection of familiar faces when school begins.

drey-land-2.jpgBio Drey Land culminates a year of biology study for 9th graders with four days of intensive field work in the forest and the stream ecosystems. Students cooperate in teams to gather data about both the animal and plant communities and the non-living factors so they can discover, identify and evaluate the functions and interrelationships that exist in their natural surroundings. Positive attitudes, appreciation for the environment and value for the preservation of natural ecosystems grow out of this primitive camp experience where students work together in a natural setting. 

Senior Drey Land is a program organized by the seniors in August. Although faculty members assist, seniors take the lead in planning the activities and the menus. Traditionally, they have organized a slide show featuring pictures of the class from 7th grade Drey Land, a giant “quiet walk” for the entire class, a float trip down Sinking Creek and a bonfire on the creek bank with storytelling by both faculty and students. Weather permitting, the entire class sleeps under the stars on the gravel bar. The trip is a bonding experience for the class just prior to the start of their final year as JBS students. Despite busy personal schedules, generally more than 90 percent of the class is able to participate.

Outdoor Education/May Projects  On several occasions since 1995, groups of seniors have volunteered for their senior May Project to construct the Devil's Well/Cave Spring trail, which cuts through portions of the Pioneer Forest and National Forest land. The seniors often work side-by-side with the Americorps Emergency Response Team. The National Park Service has presented the school five certificates of commendation for the work accomplished by Burroughs students over the years, and in 2006 Burroughs officially adopted the trail. In addition, since 2010 some seniors have earned May Project credit by serving on the Drey Land Service corps, a small group group of students who returns to camp to paint, clear trails and do maintenance work.

drey-land-3.jpgA Community Resource  Throughout the year and with permission, Drey Land is used by various segments of the larger community. Undergraduate and graduate students and faculty use Drey Land as a base for field studies; conservation groups and government agencies use Drey Land as a base for wilderness activities; scout troops use Drey Land as a base for badge-earning activities; and police groups use Drey Land as a base for team-building exercises.

About Leo Drey
The late Leo Drey was best known in the state of Missouri as an environmentalist landowner. He established the nearly 160,000-acre Pioneer Forest to demonstrate that Ozark forests could produce a continuous supply of timber and still maintain a range of environmental values. When he purchased his first tract of land in 1951, clear cutting methods had left the landscape sparse and scraggly. Mr. Drey adopted a philosophy of sustainable land management—that is, selectively cutting trees as they reach maturity and maximum value. The theory, which has proven true, was that a lighter touch to logging could produce a profit while retaining the natural beauty of the forest, reducing soil erosion and preserving wildlife habitats. Mr. Drey also bought and turned over for public use thousands of acres of the state’s most pristine natural areas. Several years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Drey relinquished their title as the state’s largest landowners by donating nearly all of the Pioneer Forest to a foundation, which will care for Mr. Drey’s forest in perpetuity.