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Virginia

The Islands of Virginia's Eastern Shore: Chincoteague, Assateague and Wallops

Program No. 2018RJ
Experience the wonders of Virginia’s Eastern Shore islands as you explore local museums, see the wild ponies of Assateague and enjoy special access to unspoiled Wallops Island.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,149

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climate
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 28, 2023
Starting at
1,149
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,149
Oct 29 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
1,149
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,149
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 28, 2023
Starting at
1,249
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,249
Oct 29 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
1,249
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,249

At a Glance

Wild ponies, fresh and saltwater wetlands, sand dunes and small town hospitality await you in one of Virginia’s most unique settings among the barrier islands of the Delmarva Peninsula. Experience Chincoteague, Assateague and Wallops Island with Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Chincoteague’s fascinating history of the settlement of the Eastern Shore sets it apart. Gain access to NASA’s restricted Wallops Island to study an environment left unspoiled. And explore Assateague’s forests and discover the wild ponies.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking up to a quarter-mile at a time.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Stroll the beach and collect seashells on restricted-access Wallops Island where we may just be the only group there all day.
  • Learn about the art and history of the waterfowl decoy as a local carver demonstrates his skill.
  • Learn about the Tales of Chincoteague from local experts.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. ATTENTION FOREIGN NATIONALS: Part of this program takes place on Wallops Island, which is a restricted access NASA base. In order to participate in the Wallops Island activities, all foreign nationals must complete additional paperwork at least 6 weeks in advance to be allowed access onto the base. Access is then subject to approval by NASA Wallops Island base. If you are a foreign national enrolled in this program, please contact the program provider directly at julie@cbfieldstation.org to request the required forms.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Nancy Richards West
Nancy Richards West has lived on Chincoteague Island for three decades, using this picturesque setting as inspiration for her paintings. The first resident artist chosen by the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the thrill of painting en plein air often lures her out of the studio and into the field, where she captures the effects of changing light, weather and seasons. Nancy has extensive training in classical drawing and color theory, and her delicate treatment of oils is subtly elegant.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Nancy West
Nancy Richards West View biography
Nancy Richards West has lived on Chincoteague Island for three decades, using this picturesque setting as inspiration for her paintings. The first resident artist chosen by the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the thrill of painting en plein air often lures her out of the studio and into the field, where she captures the effects of changing light, weather and seasons. Nancy has extensive training in classical drawing and color theory, and her delicate treatment of oils is subtly elegant.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay
by William W. Warner
William Warner exhibits his skill as a naturalist and as a writer in this Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the pugnacious Atlantic blue crab and of its Chesapeake Bay territory. This wonderful work contains all you ever wanted to know about the life cycle of one particular kind of crab that lives in Chesapeake Bay (the kind you probably smashed with mallets if you ever went to that area). Surprisingly, for most of its life, the Atlantic blue crab has nothing to do with beer. Taking it for a focus, Warner draws connections with the sea, the rivers, the crab-friendly environment that produced such a wealth of the creatures, and then the people who live from that wealth, the islanders who lived isolated for centuries, but are now firmly within the web of modern life. Warner tells of the marketing of crabs, the catching of other Chesapeake products like oysters, and even of festivals like a Miss Crustacean contest ! You can learn about esoterica like crab pots, the Waterman's Union, the religious heritage of crabbers, and lots more.
Chincoteague Revisited: A Sojourn to the Chincoteague and Assateague Islands (Hardcover)
by Dorothy Camagna and Jennifer Cording
Through Dorothy Camagna’s artful photography and Jennifer Cording’s essays, Chincoteague Revisited captures the essence of the community, ecology and the natural landscape of this unique place off Virginia’s coast. The first essay, "Community", welcomes readers to island life and to the islanders themselves—an uncommon culture of people who share a common bond. Local watermen, decoy carvers and shop owners ply their trade; visitors from everywhere transform the community in the spring; simple, whitewashed houses line Main Street, and the Channel Bass Inn bed and breakfast invites afternoon callers to tea. Townspeople and visitors enjoy the traditional Christmas parade and the tastes of the annual oyster festival. Chincoteague Island comes to life in poetry and pictures. The next essay, "Refuge", centers on the mystery and beauty of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge—its seashore, marshlands, maritime forests and wildlife. Through Camagna’s expert eye and Cording’s sensitive language, the sun sets on the loblolly pine, and the great egret takes its majestic flight towards Chincoteague Bay. The most famous inhabitants of Assateague Island, the wild ponies, also call the refuge home. Each July, local cowboys herd the ponies for their swim across the channel to Chincoteague’s shore, where the foals are auctioned at the annual Firemen’s Carnival. And finally, the essay titled "Transitions" focuses on the ecological and seasonal changes of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. "It is a delicate balance," writes Cording of the fragile combination of a beautiful natural landscape and thousands of human visitors who descend on the island each season. Chincoteague Revisited is a rare collection of over one hundred full color photographs with accompanying essays—from aerial shots of the coastline and barrier islands, to intimate portraits of the water, land and people that make Chincoteague Island a destination to be visited, revisited and remembered.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge: An Ecological Treasure
by Irene Hinke-Sacilotto
Beautiful photos of Chincoteague National Wildlife: birds, ponies, sunsets. Not a lot of detailed information but it is a photography book primarily and nice to look at and dream of being there.
Off 13: The Eastern Shore of Virginia Guidebook
by Kirk Mariner
Kirk Mariner's book "Off 13 - The Eastern Shore of Virginia Guidebook" offers a highly informative and entertaining guide to an overlooked but tranquil peninsula bounded by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Nation's Capital. Many people know of Chincoteague but may not be aware that the rest of the Virginia eastern shore is well worth exploring. "Off 13" is full of interesting anecdotes and historical information about the area and its many little towns as well as useful and practical information for travellers.
Assateague: Island of Wild Ponies
by Andrea Jauck and Larry Points
Children's Book- In a nature tour format, the authors portray the seasons of this famous island. They present facts about the area's ecology while focusing on the ponies. The tone is conversational, written in an informal style and defining equine terms in context. One or two full-color photos on each page show the animals in their habitat. Scenes show both the natural beauty of the island and the ponies in action, sometimes in humorous poses. Photos and text promote Assateague's wildness while cautioning readers about humankind's effects on the fragile environment. Suggest this as background for readers of Marguerite Henry's books, and as a supplement to Jack Scott's Island of Wild Horses
Voices of the Chincoteague: Memories of Greenbackville and Franklin City (VA)
by Martha A. Burns and Linda S. Hartsock
Beginning around the turn of the 20th century, people flocked to boom towns like Greenbackville and Franklin City on Virginia's remote Chincoteague Bay to cash in on the lucrative oyster trade. Most eventually settled for simple rural lives, living a cash and barter economy, commuting on foot or by boat, always closely tied to the tide and water. From mystery in the marsh to jealous lovers, these accounts of life on the Bay are filled with work boats, crab pots, and saltwater. About the Author As come eres newcomers to the Eastern Shore, authors Martha A. Burns and Linda S. Hartsock bring a fresh perspective to life on the Bay. They present here the memories of a vanishing way of life in rural America, largely in the words of those who lived it and worked it. Much of the language, insights, and emotion of the last century are here for all to read, coupled with the authors' observations and interpretations of their neighbors and the bay they call home.
Wallops Island (Images of America: Virginia) (Paperback)
by Nan Devincent Hayes and Bowen Bennett
Located in Accomack County on Virginiaís Eastern Shore, Wallops Island was once a primitive swath of land, uncivilized but by the wild ponies and mosquitoes that made its scrub-covered shores their home. But as the centuries passed, the wildness of the island was radically altered by the influx of colonists, then vacationers, and, eventually, some of the brightest scientific minds in the country. ÝÝThe history of Wallops Island has been one of transition. In the colonial period, John Wallop, an industrious man and self-made millionaire, was granted much of the islandís acreage by the English Crown for providing assistance to new colonists trying to reach Virginia. In 1889, Wallops Island was bought and converted into a vacation destination for a handful of wealthy families from Pennsylvania, who, in turn, sold the island to the federal government in the 1940s. Once in the hands of NASA the island was transformed into a center for the high-tech development of rockets, missiles, and the means for space travel. From weather balloons and Tiamat missiles to aerodynamics and hurricane research, the Wallops Island Flight Facility and its predecessors have been instrumental in the evolution and success of the American space program.
A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore: From the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras
by Kenneth L. Gosner
More than 1,000 illustrations, arranged according to visual similarities, show plant and animal species of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras. This guide includes information on how to locate each species by geographic range, tidal range, tidal level, season, topography, and climate.
Once upon an island: The history of Chincoteague
by Kirk Mariner
This book is not just another collection of essays and sepia pictures about a local landmark or town. Kirk Mariner's review is a thoughtful and thorough history of a small island community - as thorough as one can be when natural history and the lack of written records affect the narrative as often as it does Chincoteague.
Misty of Chincoteague
by Marguerite Henry
On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her--that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can't live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next "Pony Penning Day" does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether. Marguerite Henry's Newbery Honor Book has captivated generations of boys and girls both with its thrilling descriptions of true incidents from the tiny island of Chincoteague, and its realistic yet wonderfully magical atmosphere. This story of an animal brought into captivity poignantly reveals the powerful opposing forces of humans and nature. Wesley Dennis's pen-and-ink ponies are masterfully depicted with rippling muscles, shaggy coats, and free spirits.
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Wallops Island
D
Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Activity note: Field station check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your room assignment, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please contact the Chincoteague Bay Field Station to find out where to meet the group.

Dinner: In the cafeteria, we’ll enjoy a family-style seafood feast! Sample local crabs and shrimp or if you choose, grilled chicken or roasted vegetables. Coffee, tea, water, and a selection of juices and sodas are available.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Retreats program. Our programming at Retreat locations includes opportunities for interaction with members of the local community, a farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, and evening entertainment. Please keep in mind that the workshop schedule is tentative and subject to change due to weather, access, seasons, and other factors. When you arrive, you will receive an updated schedule specially tailored for that particular week. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, Wild Ponies, Natural History
Wallops Island
B,L,D
Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Activity note: Getting on/off buses. Short walks to and from visitor centers in the refuge.

Breakfast: In the Chincoteague Bay Field Station cafeteria, our staff will present an array of fruits, hot and cold cereals, meats, breads/biscuits, eggs, and pancakes for your choosing. Coffee, tea, water, and a selection of soft drinks are available.

Morning: Our Field Station Educator will present an engaging lecture in the Visitor Center Auditorium. We’ll learn all about the history and unique features of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Lunch: The Eastern Shore is home to some outstanding American fare and seafood restaurants. On Day One, we’ll receive menus for each of the restaurants we’ll visit this week and make our selections in advance.

Afternoon: We will venture into one of the little-seen restricted access areas of the Refuge. Here we will search for wild ponies, birds, and other amazing wildlife.

Dinner: In the cafeteria, our dining staff will prepare and serve cafeteria-style meals, with options ranging from a hot meal to a diverse salad bar. Coffee, tea, water, and a selection of soft drinks are available.

Evening: Field Station Educators come from a variety of backgrounds within the natural sciences. Join us in our Education Center classroom to learn more about the natural history of the area through a lecture on a topic of their choice that features their unique expertise.

DAY
3
Art Class, Wallops Island, Life of a Waterman
Wallops Island
B,L,D
Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Activity note: Getting on/off buses. Walking less than 1/3 mile over wet, muddy, and/or sandy terrain. Walking and standing approximately 90 minutes at the beach.

Breakfast: In the cafeteria.

Morning: We’ll watch a painting come to life as a local professional artist talks about and demonstrates the techniques used to render our natural world on canvas.

Lunch: In the cafeteria.

Afternoon: The restricted access on the NASA Wallops Island base left an environment that is great for education as well as shelling. Stroll along the beach or sit and enjoy the view. Our Field Station Educator will stop to identify and explain any neat shells or specimens we may find. NOTE: Our access to Wallops Island will depend on the security level of the base at the time, which is influenced by a number of factors independent of the Chincoteague Bay Field Station and its actions.

Dinner: At an Eastern Shore restaurant.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local waterman, with whom we’ll discuss local fisheries and life on the water.

DAY
4
Natural & Cultural History, Free Time, Decoy Carving
Wallops Island
B,L,D
Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Activity note: Getting on/off buses. Short walk to and from the museum.

Breakfast: In the cafeteria.

Morning: The Delmarva Discovery Center is a wonderful place to learn about the history of the Eastern Shore. Wander through a cypress swamp, watch river otters play, discuss Native American history, and step aboard a life-size steam ship all within the Center's walls. This morning our guide will take us through the fascinating cultural and natural history of the region as we explore the museum's engaging exhibits.

Lunch: In the cafeteria.

Afternoon: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: In the cafeteria.

Evening: An accomplished carver will demonstrate their skill in creating a waterfowl decoy. As they carve, we’ll learn about this art’s fascinating history that includes hunting, 1920s fashion, and worldwide competitions.

DAY
5
Expert Lecture, NASA Field Trip, Performance
Wallops Island
B,L,D
Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Activity note: Getting on/off buses. Walking between buildings at Wallops Island; standing for up to 30 minutes; chairs can be made available.

Breakfast: In the cafeteria.

Morning: We’ll learn even more about the wild Chincoteague ponies during a fascinating lecture from a local of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Lunch: In the classroom, we’ll make our own sandwiches to enjoy as we watch the 1961 film ‘Misty,’ which helped to put Chincoteague on the map as a tourist destination and further solidify the wild ponies into the history and lore of this area. Coffee, tea, water, iced tea, and lemonade are available.

Afternoon: We’ll take a quick bus trip to Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, where we will hear an exciting afternoon lecture about the history of NASA and Wallops Island. We will learn all about some of the amazing projects happening at NASA.

Dinner: At an Eastern Shore restaurant.

Evening: We’ll enjoy evening entertainment by very talented local musicians and storytellers.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Wallops Island
B

Activity note: Field station check-out 9:30 a.m.

Breakfast: In the cafeteria. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.