About ECRS

Eastern Cooperative Recreation School is a nonprofit organization founded in 1940 to provide cooperative recreation as a way to rest and refresh, to add richness and depth to living, and to aid the development of communities and humanity at large. For seventy-five years, ECRS has offered recreation leadership training based on the belief that recreation is an important tool for teachers, social workers, and anyone else who works with people, either on a volunteer or paid basis.

About Our Programs

A typical year includes a 5-day Winter Adventure, a camping weekend, and a retreat-style weekend program. Each event offers classes that draw from basic forms of cooperative recreation, including non-competitive games, dancing (folk, contra and square, ballroom, etc.) , singing, drama, and crafts. Sprinkled throughout are constantly varied specialty classes, such as Creative Writing, Multicultural Diversity and aspects of personal growth. There is also ample free, unstructured time, and for those who’d like, structured “free-time” activities, led by our participants. We provide a caring and creative children’s program for participants 11 and under, and feature fun-packed, nightly ”evening programs” that offer a smorgasbord of cooperative activities.

About Our Philosophy

ECRS is based on the principle that play is an important part of the human experience. Play benefits us in many ways; it builds community, stretches personal abilities, and helps us explore new ways of functioning as people and as groups. The kinds of play activity taught at ECRS provide a refreshing contrast to society’s current performance orientation in which we go to watch experts sing, dance or act instead of doing these things ourselves. ECRS is for participants, no matter what level of skill or experience.

ECRS events offer creative and engaging activities for all ages that are fun, build community and develop leadership. Come join us for games, folk dance, crafts, dramatics, singing and more…because everyone needs a retreat from the ordinary!

Since its founding in 1940, ECRS has offered recreational retreats based on these beliefs:

Recreation is important for its own sake and is valuable as a practical, experiential tool for use in communities by teachers and volunteers alike.
Recreation is a fundamental need of humankind, for it allows us to connect with other people and provides meaningful balance within our lives.
Recreation should allow individuals to grow at their own pace without being made to feel either superior or inferior for participating at their own level.

ECRS programs offer a variety of classes and activities, starting with the "basic six" forms of recreation: games, dancing, singing, crafts, dramatics, and theory.


including cooperative and multi-generational, indoor and outdoor, active and quiet, mental, dramatic, singing.


including folk dancing, line dancing, regional and international, square, contra, ballroom, and novelty dances.


including simple songs, songs with parts, round singing and harmonizing using quality folk material, and leadership techniques.


including spontaneous and rehearsed, improv games and skits, and recreation of small scenes from theater.


including weaving, puppetry, paper and nature crafts in a supportive, experimental environment.


including effective leadership practices, recreation for special populations, program planning, with practice teaching and evaluation.

Come grow along with us

in body, mind, and spirit

Additional Activities

include anything from creative writing to exploring outdoors, from drumming to personality development — and much, much more. The ECRS Experience is about enjoying super folk dancing, yummy late night snacks, contagious laughter, making new friends, rediscovering old friends, quiet games, boisterous games, imaginative informal dramatics, riveting small scenes, playful puppetry, firelight singing and listening, learning leadership skills, and most importantly, being with others and yourself.