Program Activity Options
We’re here to empower young people to Experience Learning beyond the classroom. The following lessons and activities comprise our core courses; we’re happy to design a custom program to fit your group’s needs using any combination of the opportunities below.
Using a topographical map and compass, students will learn how to find their way – in terms of negotiating the terrain, but also in the direction they will take as a team. Success in this adventure dictates cooperation, communication, and problem solving, as the group bushwhacks their way to the summit of the highest point in the state.
Caves are dark and foreboding places. Most people have some amount of trepidation associated with the dark and with small spaces. Yet the cave we explore is welcoming; the spaces are bigger than they appear, and nearly anyone can have success in this adventure. In this way, our caving program can be a tool for successfully facing personal challenges and fears.
Water is life. By studying fresh water and sampling head water streams, we learn about the interconnectedness of watersheds and the importance of stream health to the entire river network and downstream communities.
Stewardship Projects, Forest History, & Beaver Ecology
Students will plant trees, assist with trail maintenance, or restore riparian areas. Stewardship projects, when coupled with a lesson on forest history and beaver ecology, makes for an interesting conversation regarding human impacts and our role in nature. Stewardship takes many different forms, but always leaves participants feeling more connected to a place, gives them a sense of responsibility, and reinforces the idea that one person can make a difference.
Canoeing is the ultimate pair initiative and a successful team will need more than paddle skills to effectively reach their destination. It is a time where cooperation, communication, patience, encouragement and decision making are integral to the groups success.
There is no better way for students to learn the importance of personal responsibility and adequate self-care than through backpacking. As competence with various skills increases, so does confidence, and what seemed hard at the beginning of the week no longer does at the end.
Rock Climbing & Rappelling
Participants will rely on the support of their teammates on the ground while they set and achieve tangible goals in the air. A range of climbs will be set up to ensure an appropriate skill level is met for all involved.
Geology: Learn about the geologic history of the Appalachians. Hike to the top of Spruce Knob for a bird’s eye view of ancient tectonic activity and current rock layers.
Survival Skills: Learn about survival skills, including fire building, shelter construction, and other outdoor-exploration skills through fun games and activities.
Team-building Games & Initiatives: Structured activities and debriefs around themes of collaboration, trust, support, & leadership. These activities can influence tone-setting, encourage unlikely leaders to step up, and will help to establish lasting group bonds that students will carry with them into the school year.
Sensory Awareness: games and activities structured around movement and observation, leading to a blind drum walk.
Nocturnal Explorations: Explore the night with games, hikes, and discovery activities.
Astronomy: On clear nights, students explore the night sky using the naked eye, binoculars, and our observatory’s telescope. We have access to one of the darkest skies in the east: a real treat for astronomers of any experience level.
Large Group Reflective Campfire: S’mores, structured all group reflection activities and games around a campfire.
Whitewater Rafting: The lively Shenandoah and Cheat rivers make West Virginia a hot spot for rafting.
What Folks are Saying
Hands down Experience Learning’s Water Sampling trip (AWSM) for my 5th graders this past year has been the highlight of my career thus far! – Megan Bacorn, teacher
Experience Learning and their staff make our school trips possible. From scouting things out before hand, to keeping everyone fed, safe, entertained and informed during the trip, none of it would be possible without their professionalism. They create a safe environment that allows students to push themselves out of their comfort zones and take risks while being fully supported. All of this translates to huge growth at home both in and out of the classroom. – Evan Schlissel, Winston Prep NY
Our trip to SKMC has now turned into an annual event that is not only highly anticipated, but essential to bringing together the social dynamics of our class as we prepare for a year of working together. Additionally, my students feel empowered and connected to each other from our adventures that carries on through our schoolwork. – Jen Osha Buysse, teacher, Morgantown Learning Academy
We are currently in the process of exploring a Trout in The Classroom project because of the interest that was piqued during the AWSM activities. – Julie Colaw, 5th grade science teacher, Petersburg Elementary School
Mountain Stewards at Experience Learning is a fantastic week-long summer camp for kids who like the outdoors (or who WILL like the outdoors after this wonderful experience!) Stewardship of our natural resources, self-reliance, leadership, and fellowship, are all integral to this program. My daughter LOVES this camp, and that makes me a happy dad. Experience Learning also has great programs for learners of all ages. I recently completed an excellent Wilderness First Aid course at their wonderful Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Check it out! – Mark Wenzler
The leaders at Experience Learning do an extraordinary job of utilizing “outdoor education” to create opportunities for our boys to learn, grow, and develop an appreciation for our world beyond traditional classroom environments, which is valuable on too many levels to fully celebrate. – Mike Wallace, Gilman School
Experience Learning has for a long time been dedicated to understanding our students, and on each trip builds a program to meet our goals. The experience we have each year creates a channel for learning that helps students further understand and internalize skills for planning, organization, problem solving and risk taking, and shows how these skills lead to success and happiness. We also have a wonderful time, and the experience is a staple of school culture and our collective memories. – Greg Koehlert, headmaster, Winston Prep