Our Story

Located on the Central Oregon Coast, RECESS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SCHOOL, connects students with nature.

Our staff have a enthusiastic passion for providing high quality preschool programs, adventure camps, field investigations, outreach, and more! Read through the following page to learn our story.

Our Philosophy

Imagine your favorite, most mouthwatering recipe. How many ingredients do you use to make it? My guess is, is that to make your most favorite dish, you must blend together at least a couple of fine ingredients to get it to it’s savory perfection, yes?

Developing our approach to education was very similar to the process you might take when making a delicious treat. First we opened wide the Cupboard of Education, closely examining each philosophy in order to select only the finest ingredients. However, during our search several pedagogues stood out. There were powerful ideas from traditional perspectives such as Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf. Each had incredible gifts to offer, but the truth was clear, none spoke to us as a stand alone option. So we looked deeper. We looked into the fields of psychology, sociology, interpretation, and free-choice learning, gleaning nuggets here and there. We looked at children’s museums, nature centers, wildlife refuges, aquariums, zoos,  science centers, and summer camps. Over and over again we found programs that deeply inspired us. However, as independent philosophies they felt bland. Suddenly it was clear. Like your most scrumptious recipe, we needed to create our education philosophy from a unique blend of ingredients: the special qualities of the aforementioned pedagogues, our deep passion for the outdoors and people, and wisdom from our life experiences. Recess Outdoor Adventure School is a beautiful recipe that aims to provide support to the whole child, offering opportunities to explore, discover, connect, and create.

Our Staff

McKenzie Purdom, Owner & Lead Educator


As a Lincoln County resident for 20 years, McKenzie is deeply connected to the Oregon coast. McKenzie has served in numerous educational and management roles in various nonprofits including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, US Fish & Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, US Forest Service, Chehalem Parks & Recreation District, the Kayak Shack, & the School District.

Everyone who meets her, describes McKenzie as enthusiastic – both for people and the outdoors. “Figuratively speaking, as an educator you often wear many beautiful hats. Early childhood education is one of my most favorite hats to wear. Children are full of wonder, curiosity, and joy. That’s what makes exploring nature with them so exciting. I grew up seeing the benefits of outdoor education and still, as an adult, I can’t get enough of it. That is why I have started Recess. I want to provide children opportunities to engage with nature, so they too can flourish.”

McKenzie has strong curriculum and program development skills for various audiences, pre-k through adult. She is passionate and knowledgeable about the Oregon coast. Further, she is always excited to learn. “At Recess, we believe children are stakeholders in their own education. Our role as grownups is to support and encourage the intrinsic motivations that children display through play. Research shows that nature-based programs provide a wealth of benefits for children, often resulting in high achievement and overall happiness of the child. Inadvertently, through exploration, play, and discovery children become life long learners, just like myself!”


Lori Quay, Lead Educator


Lori has always had a zest for learning. She studied elementary education with a focus in psychology, as well as natural resources. Her varied skills include being a marine naturalist and educator, and working with physically challenged individuals primarily those with blindness. Lori has over 40 years in the education field, specializing in interpretation, nature play and mind/body awareness. She has served in a variety of board and chair positions and volunteered with a number of non profits including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the National Federation of the Blind, Metroparks, the Marine Reserves and Audubon.

Lori moved to Oregon from the Midwest and fell in love with the wild beauty and diverse ecosystems throughout the region. She grew up playing in the outdoors surrounded by forests and wild areas. Her love of nature has been an integral part of her life. Combining her love of the outdoors and teaching developed her understanding of the importance of our connection to nature. “It became apparent in working with all ages that the best way to motivate someone to learn and care about a thing was to help them find a personal interest to get engaged in.” She enjoys tremendously helping people find their passions. Lori thoroughly enjoys working with preschoolers and feels that helping them get excited about life develops good self esteem, enthusiasm and achievement.

Lori’s passion has often been referred to as infectious. She loves to share this exciting world we live in with others.


Our Mission

Recess Outdoor Adventure School provides dynamic experiences for students to explore, discover, connect, and create along the Oregon Coast.

Our Values

We strive to create an authentic community, where each person is known, loved, and belongs. Our Core Values include:our values

Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

We strive to provide a welcoming atmosphere where everyone belongs. Though not intentional, many nature based schools have traditionally been accessible only to a small handful of people due to the high cost associated with providing top notch quality programming and retaining highly qualified staff. At Recess, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in a quality early childhood education program. That is why we have created a scholarship fund! A portion of each fully paid tuition is reserved to help provide financial assistance to a friend in need.

Further, we are in the process of researching possible funding sources so that we can offer all day programs to children of full time working parents, translate materials to multiple languages, and construct a facility that is specially designed to assist students with special needs.


We are an equal opportunity employer. We carefully select staff who share our vision for bringing nature play programs to all people. We specifically seek individuals with skills and experience in creating a welcoming environment for all.

Interested in becoming a staff member? Email oregonrecess@gmail.com for more info!

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