Clinging to the face of a cliff. Riding through forests on a mountain bike. Activities like these can teach you the importance of personal responsibility, leadership, integrity, and teamwork. And when you experience thrilling moments like these, the lessons tend to stick.
Excursions led by Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) faculty and staff range from daylong local events to multi-week global adventures. Through activities such as rock and ice climbing, biking, and backpacking, beginners and advanced students grapple with physical experiences as well as larger life lessons.
MOE is dedicated to safely introducing students to activities that stretch their potential. The Masinter Outdoor Education Center, a renovated 10,000-square-foot timber-frame barn on campus, houses the MOE program, and with a little help from our sponsors, we’re able to provide the high-caliber gear that a budding outdoor enthusiast needs. That means we’re able to outfit a group of students for a day of rock climbing, a two-week mountaineering expedition, multi-day biking trips, or any other adventure.
Rivers and Trails
The Rivers and Trails program, which is run in both the fall and spring seasons, exposes students to the necessary skills for traveling on both water and land. Utilizing local creeks, rivers, and lakes, participants will learn how to navigate individual kayaks or work together to maneuver canoes. When not on the water, this group will learn the fundamentals of orienteering and hiking as they take advantage of local trail systems. Students will learn how to operate stoves, pitch tents, plan backpacking trips, wet-exit a kayak, read moving water, and paddle efficiently as part of a group.
In addition to daily practice Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, this program runs extended trips on Tuesdays and Saturdays as well as overnight trips.
The Climbing program aims to empower participants to climb outside by exposing them to the fundamentals of technical rock climbing. This includes belaying, anchor building, sport and traditional lead climbing, rappelling, and route finding.
Students in Climbing meet every weekday afternoon with extended trips off campus taking place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This program takes advantage of our indoor climbing facility and the local crags, as well as more distant locations like Seneca Rocks and the New River Gorge.
Mountain Biking focuses on advancing students’ cycling skills to enable two-wheeled travel on backcountry single track. The Mountain Biking curriculum covers cycling techniques as well as bike maintenance. From patching tires and adjusting brakes to replacing derailleurs, cables, and housing, our crew is exposed to it all. Daily practice makes use of Mercersburg’s beautiful 300-acre campus, which includes our single-track skills course and grass track, while weekend trips venture further afield. The season kicks off with a flat ride on the C&O Canal and progresses quickly to nearby Cowans Gap, Michaux State Forest, and Antrim Park, followed by the Allegrippis Trails of Raystown Lake. Race and Time Trial attendance varies from season to season and is always an opportunity, not an expectation, for all participants.
Downhill Ski and Snowboard
The Downhill Ski and Snowboard program allows students the opportunity to work on improving their downhill skills at nearby Whitetail Ski Resort. Experience is required and proficiency turning, stopping, and maintaining proper control must be demonstrated. Participants may also have the opportunity to help with service programs at the resort.
In addition to traveling to Whitetail on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Downhill Ski and Snowboard participants will meet for dryland training on Mondays and Fridays.
The Ski Mountaineering program focuses on a variety of skills geared toward freeing up skiers and snowboarders from the lift-served resort experience, although we utilize our local ski resort, Whitetail, in order to do this. Some days will be spent honing uphill travel skills using Alpine Touring bindings and climbing skins that are provided by the school, while others will be spent on downhill skills (using the chairlifts). The Ski Mountaineering curriculum will also focus on backcountry mountaineering skills such as rappelling and avalanche safety, as well as equipment maintenance skills such as tuning and waxing.
Adventure awaits you.