Experiential Learning And Outdoor Education

The WPS Outdoor Education Program leads students into unfamiliar and challenging environments to facilitate goal setting and appropriate risk taking, improve communication skills, demonstrate how learning strategies are used outside of classroom environments, and encourage a commitment to social and ecological responsibility as well as the development of resiliency. These experiences are able to profoundly impact these key factors in a young person’s life in a manner and to a degree not possible in the typical classroom setting – this is uniquely so for students with learning difficulties. No environment teaches the most vital skill of overcoming obstacles quite like outdoor education. As one student put it, “I learned never to give up, even when the experience seems beyond my limits.”

WPS Outdoor Education Program is an integral aspect of the school’s curriculum on all three campuses, and has been for more than fifteen years. Each year students are invited to participate in week-long programs that frequently vary in their location and specific activities. Over the years we have taken students mountain biking through Amish Pennsylvania, backpacking and rafting and rock climbing on and along the Appalachian trail in Virginia, caving and camping in the Catskills, canoeing on the Delaware River, and canoeing on the Potomac River. We have worked as schooner ship or “tall ship” crew members in New England and in the Virgin Islands. We have taken students to experiential education camps such as Frost Valley YMCA in upstate New York, and to The Mountain Institute in West Virginia. Through these experiential activities we have been able to help students who we serve, students who are working to overcome expressive and receptive language difficulties, dyslexia, executive functioning difficulties, and nonverbal learning disabilities.