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 to improve their skills at Whitetail, our local ski resort. Both beginners and experienced skiers and snowboarders are welcome in this program. While beginners will learn the basics, more experienced participants will take part in instructor clinics in order to improve their own skills and help beginners improve as well. All participants will work to meet specific benchmarks in their personal skiing or snowboarding skills while engaging in lessons and clinics as a group. When weather prevents the group from utilizing the mountain, participants stay well conditioned with dry-land training and learn equipment-maintenance skills such as tuning and waxing.
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, we try to get off piste whenever the weather allows for it. Some days are spent honing uphill travel skills on skis or a splitboard using Alpine Touring bindings and climbing skins provided by the school, while other days are spent focusing on downhill skiing and snowboarding abilities (using the chairlifts). The curriculum also focuses on backcountry mountaineering skills such as rappelling and avalanche safety and equipment-maintenance such as tuning and waxing. This program is for experienced skiers and snowboarders who are excited about advancing their backcountry abilities.
Adventure awaits you.