Outdoor Education

Making Boys Better Men

The Outdoor Education program at Blue Ridge School is designed to teach respect for the natural world, for others, and for one’s self. Comprised of seven academic electives, boys learn skills like outdoor survival, first aid, orienteering, ecosystem research and management, outdoor program development, and environmental service. In fact, the boys have contributed to a variety of projects on the mountain, building trails and bridges for future use. And, along the way, they develop strength, independence, and leadership that will guide them through their lives.

  • Outdoor Leadership I

    This class introduces boys to information, resources, and the experience needed for leadership in the outdoor education field. The boys build the soft skills needed to facilitate group exercises and participate in various leadership models, focusing primarily on developing elements of group dynamics, such as trust, communication, and teamwork. A major project in this class is developing a biographical sketch of a leader in the education, conservation, or recreation field.

  • Outdoor Leadership II

    This class builds on Outdoor Leadership I and focuses primarily on program planning. Boys gain hands-on, practical experience in the development, implementation, and evaluation of recreational programs. Class topics include needs assessments, logistics, risk management, and debriefing. Major projects in this class include developing actual recreational programs for student body participation and creating a proposal for a four-day backcountry expedition. We recommend boys complete Outdoor Leadership I prior to registering for this class.

  • Outdoor Living Skills

    This course introduces boys who appreciate the challenge of wilderness pursuits to the principles of recreation and leisure, as well as the fundamentals of backcountry travel. Boys will develop the hard skills essential to outdoor recreation pursuits, including mountain travel, camping, cooking, survival skills, ecosystem management, and orienteering. Major projects include overnight camping in a primitive hut on campus and a research paper on a conservation issue impacting wilderness areas.

  • Outdoor Service Learning

    This fall course examines the act of service and its impact on our world. Boys will engage in a service project on the campus while exploring a variety of issues in the service field. Both local and global non-profit organizations will be studied. Through reading and discussion, boys will examine their personal impact on the environment.

  • Outdoor Appreciation

    This course is offered in the spring trimester and examines our personal and societal relationship to nature. The avenues of learning in this class include the history of the conservation movement, the National Park System, and weekly experiences on the Blue Ridge campus. A project that involves sustainability is a major component of this course.

  • Appalachian Experiences

    This winter course examines a variety of topics and issues in and around the Appalachian Mountain Chain. The boys will research and discuss Cherokee culture, the Appalachian Trail, environmental issues, mountain culture, and other topics. We also spend some time studying Blue Ridge School, including an exploration of our archives. A major hands-on activity is the painting of a Cherokee gourd mask that will appear in the art shop the following spring.

  • Wilderness & Remote First Aid

    In this class, boys will gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to respond and provide care in an emergency situation, specifically in a wilderness environment. Numerous hands-on scenarios with classmates will help ingrain this important information. Upon completion of the course, students will earn certifications in Adult CPR, Adult AED, and Wilderness & Remote First Aid. We offer this unique elective in conjunction with the American Red Cross.

“We have the opportunity here at Blue Ridge, to disconnect from the internet and have real meaningful experiences in the outdoors.”

—Cory Woods, Outdoor program assistant director

Reuben took on new challenges and found his strengths in the outdoor program.