Outdoor Education in the High School

Not all classrooms have walls

By the time they enter Grade 10, Riverstone students have built a solid foundation of outdoor and interpersonal skills. During their High School years, we build upon that foundation as we challenge students to shoulder new responsibilities in increasingly demanding, but rewarding situations.

Their turn to lead

As veterans with more than 25 nights in the field, High School students help show Middle School students the ropes on our Back to School Fall Trips at the beginning of each new year. Many wistfully recall how green they felt on their own first backpacking trips and are able to offer invaluable assistance to younger students if they struggle with their packs or with being away from home. High School students also help ensure the success of Fall Trips by taking charge in camp with water filtration, cooking, tent setting, and more; their leadership helps set every year off on the right note.

New to Riverstone and the outdoors? It would be hard to find a better way to become a member of this community than by spending a few days with new classmates and teachers exploring the mountains and rivers of the Idaho backcountry!

Putting it all together

As the experiences add up and students become more competent and confident, we add layers of complexity and challenge. It all comes together in Grade 10 when students travel to remote winter campsites and their abilities to take care of themselves and contribute to the group become critical; it takes a well-functioning team to build snow caves that will serve as refuge when the temps dip towards single digits. Later in the year, they are asked to rise to the challenge again when they head for the southern Idaho desert for the traditional Spring Trips, this time with only a map, compass and good judgement (no trails!) to guide their feet.

Celebrating the long haul – The Senior Trip

As they encounter the rigors of the IB Diploma Programme, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to slip away into the mountains. In fact, in the 11th Grade year Juniors dedicate much of their time to preparing for the college application process.  During the Senior year, however, students travel to the City of Rocks to surmount one more set of outdoor challenges and to put their accomplishments into perspective. Stories from adventures as far back as 1st Grade and Kindergarten get elevated to legendary status and the scope of their progress is unmistakable; excursions that started out as overnight, car-camping trips have evolved slowly but steadily into multi-pitch climbing trips.

Beyond Riverstone

After graduation, our students continue venturing into the outdoors to pursue individual interests. Riverstone graduates have gone on to lead outdoor courses at college, have become river guides, climbing guides, ice climbers, professional kayakers, and paragliders. Others become ecology majors or organic farmers. Even if they find themselves behind a desk far from a campfire or never spend another night in a tent, the experiences that Riverstone students have had along the trail will have prepared them to work as a team, to confront challenge head-on, and to be confident in the face of adversity.

High School Outdoor Education Activities

Grade 10 –Three-day Sawtooth backpacking trip, three-day winter campsites/snow caves, and five-day southern Idaho desert backpacking along Sheep Creek

Gr 11 – Three-day Sawtooth backpacking trip and Northwest College Tour

Gr 12 – Three-day Sawtooth backpacking trip and Senior Trip to City of Rocks