On the southern coast of North Carolina, the wide Cape Fear River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Here, just off shore on the eastern tip of Oak Island, are the ruins of historic Fort Caswell. Originally built in the 1830’s and later used during the Civil War to defend Confederate positions on the North Carolina coast, Fort Caswell also served as a training ground for World War I soldiers, a spa for vacationers in the 1930’s, and as an inland patrol communications base during World War II. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina bought the property from the Federal Government in 1949. It has since served as a Conference and Retreat Center where thousands of youth and adults visit each year for field trips, conferences and meetings.
Fort Caswell is surrounded on three sides by the Cape Fear River, the Atlantic Ocean, and unsullied marshlands where the outdoors is your classroom. Public, charter, private and home schools are all welcomed. Rich in beauty the Assembly offers security unmatched by hotels, while offering a variety of educational and recreational options, and customized meal plans. Groups large and small can be accommodated.
Boy's and Girl's Barracks – Large bunk rooms. Guests must bring their own linens, towels and pillows.
50 person minimum, 175 maximum for each building
Residence Buildings - Dormitory style housing. Guests must bring their own linens, towels, and pillows.
Six Residence buildings available. Minimum and maximum occupancy vary by building.
Fort Caswell also offers cottages and hotel-style housing. To see a full range of housing options please visit Reservations.
Ft. Caswell has two dining facilities on campus. Meal times are flexible; however, if your schedule doesn’t allow for a leisurely cafeteria style meal, we will be happy to prepare bag lunches for your group or even quick biscuit breakfasts.
The Fort Caswell Coastal Education Staff use a blend of educational material developed on-site and/or available through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the NC Coastal Estuarine Research Reserve and others. Activities provide engaging, hands-on programs for students that are correlated to NC Essential Standards for Science and Social Studies. Many activities are also correlated to National Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles. Weather permitting, activities are held outdoors as students investigate different ecosystems that are a part of our island home such as the tidal flats, salt marsh and estuary or beach. Activity programs may also be incorporated into a larger field trip experience that includes off-site activities as described in the Coastal Cape Fear Circle Tour section. Inquiries regarding any of our coastal environmental education programs may be made by phone to Jenny Fuller, Coastal Environmental Education Program Coordinator at (910) 278-9501 or by email at Caswell@fortcaswell.com.
Half-Day Adventure Programs for Overnight School Groups
The coastal environmental education activities at Fort Caswell are available as one or more half-day programs for students staying on-site. Half –day programs are about three hours long and offered as either a morning or afternoon adventure. Each half-day adventure program is conducted at a specific site, such as the estuary, and includes three different activities revolving around the ecosystem being explored. Students are broken into teams of three and rotate together through each of the activity stations. Multiple half-day adventure programs may be included as part of an overall field trip package when staying on-site.
2013 Half-Day Adventure Programs for students staying on-site are $6/student/program.
There is no program fee for teachers or chaperones when participating as
part of an overnight field trip package.
One-Day Adventure Programs for Day-Guest School Groups
A one-day coastal environmental education program is offered for groups that need to arrive and depart on the same day. This unique one-day program allows students to explore two elements of the island ecosystem, such as the beach and the estuary, through four activities; two at each site. Students are divided into four teams who rotate together throughout the day. Lunch may be provided at an additional cost, or students my bring sack lunches from home or the school. Arrival and departure times are flexible; however it is recommended that a minimum of 4 ½ to 5 hours be dedicated to the field trip adventure to ensure students are able to maximize the learning opportunities available through this program.
2013 One-Day Adventure Programs for same-day arrival and departure are $12/student.
Each classroom attending is offered four adult admissions at no extra charge, and may be any combination of lead teacher,assistant teacher or other adult chaperones. Additional adults wishing to attend with the classroom may do so for ½ price or $6/adult.
Leadership and Teambuilding for Youth
Our coastal education staff offers a 1 ½ hour Leadership and Team building workshop for youth. The “activities with a purpose” are designed to build trust, responsibility, and cooperation and communication skills within a group setting. Students are given time to reflect and comment on observations, challenges, successes and failures of group efforts during debriefing time at the end of the workshop.
2013 School Year Program Pricing:
$6/student; No program fee for teachers or chaperones.
The coastal Cape Fear region boasts a wealth of environmental education centers, historical sites and museums. Fort Caswell provides a central location for lodging and meals as you journey around to our cultural and natural history sites. We provide assistance making the connections and contacts necessary to create an unforgettable field trip experience for you and your students. There is no charge for this service. Below is a list of commonly visited educational venues from the surrounding area.
(these links will take you away from the Fort Caswell Baptist Assembly website)
“I liked the turtle game, because it taught me about some of the problems with sea turtles.”
9th grade student, High Point NC
“Kayaking and seining were a lot of fun!”
9th grade student, High Point NC
“I wanted to say thanks for all the work you guys put into your program. It was a great experience for the kids!”
Middle School Science Teacher, Charlotte NC
“I learned a lot from each [class]… they were great!”
-7th grade student, Webb School of Knoxville
“One of my favorite activities was crabbing, both ghost crabbing and blue crabbing. I want to come back really soon!”
-7th grade student, Arborbrook Christian Academy
“Thank you for all that I learned at Fort Caswell about the ocean. I didn’t realize how many different types of plankton are in the ocean.”
-8th grade student, Arborbrook Christian Academy