Experiential Outdoor Education
From rivers to trails, study in classrooms that inspire.
building skills, building confidence
At Alzar School, we use the outdoors as a platform for growth. Our expeditions are powerful experiences for students, and on campus there are opportunities to practice skills between expeditions. In the field, students learn that they are more capable than they imagined, and they develop technical skills that allow them to explore some of the world’s most beautiful places. During expeditions and through on campus programs, students rotate through designated leadership opportunities. Specifically, students on expedition will all have the opportunity to serve as a LOD, or Leader of the Day. While staff will support students, the LODs ultimately make decisions like how many miles to travel in a day, or where to camp, as well as taking the role of inspiring vision amongst their expedition group.
Our motto at Alzar School is: “When we need a classroom, the world awaits.” Indeed, on whitewater rafting and backpacking expeditions, students will continue their academic studies through place-based expedition lessons. For math, students might calculate the volume and carrying capacity of a raft, while in science they might investigate macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality. Culture abounds as students learn about Mapuche indigenous people while backpacking in Chile, or while rafting in the Main Salmon, learn about the Nez Perce and Native American policy in the late 1800s, or the more recent mountain man Buckskin Bill. Expedition lessons spark interest and foster curiosity in our students as life-long learners.
Students spend approximately five weeks of the semester in the field exploring the Chilean Andes and western landscapes. Specific expeditions vary depending on water levels and other considerations, but the semester may include paddling the Salmon River, exploring the Owyhee Desert, kayaking the Baker River in Patagonia, trekking in Patagonia National Park, and Wilderness First Aid and Swiftwater Rescue courses.
Beyond expeditions, the outdoors are integrated into the semester during after school and weekend activities. After class you may find yourself hiking on the campus trail, heading to the Barn to learn how to maintain WhisperLite stoves, or paddling at the whitewater park two miles upstream of campus.