Break Travel Opportunities for 2020

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Students on a Global Programs trip to Italy in 2019.

Each year, approximately 100 students and 20 faculty members embark upon academic, outdoor, and service adventures all over the globe during the school's spring and summer breaks.

Rooted in our curriculum and owing to our longstanding ties to different regions of the world, Mercersburg Academy’s 2020 Global Programs offerings will help students deepen their connections to one another, to faculty members, to our curriculum, to Mercersburg’s alumni network, and to a world outside of Mercersburg. Applications open September 20 and stay open through October 9.

Spring programming consists of an alumni-connections program in San Francisco, California. June programming offers students opportunities to take part in our exchange programs in France or Germany or an arts-and-culture-based trip to London and Scotland. Mercersburg Outdoor Education will offer three different trips throughout some of the most beautiful landscapes in the eastern U.S. Students can apply to take a spiritual and historical journey to Japan or venture through the Andes Mountains and Machu Picchu in Peru. Though more details about programs and the application process are available for parents on the Parent Portal, here is a snapshot of all programs:


San Francisco Alumni Connections
February 28–March 7, 2020
About $2,000 per student 
Group size: 10 students

During this week-long trip, students will have the opportunity to make meaningful connections with Mercersburg alumni who live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since many alumni work in the tech industry (and not just in coding), trip participants will examine various aspects of the tech world. This trip is one-of-a-kind in terms of the current student and alumni connection, giving students the chance to see alumni in action. The trip also includes day trips to Muir Woods, Golden Gate Park, and Haight-Ashbury, and lodging in Fisherman’s Wharf. Contact: Tim Crouch at


Germany Exchange
May 31–June 16, 2020 
Group size: 8-10 students

Students will take what they’ve learned in the classroom to the streets of Munich, Worms, and Frankfurt during a two-and-a-half-week exchange. In the true nature of an exchange, students will have the chance to live with a host family, study at Mercersburg’s sister school in Worms, and explore the unforgettable sights and sounds of some of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Contact: Peter Kempe at

June 3–14, 2020
$3,900 per student
Group size: 12 students

Students will experience a journey through some of the most beautiful sights that Japan has to offer. Accompanied by faculty members Brett Potash and Kristen Pixler, the group will take a mindfulness and artistic approach to sites such as Osaka, Kumano Kodo, and Kyoto. Contact: Brett Potash at

June 11–25, 2020
Group size: 14 students 

Arriving in Cusco, the ancient Incan capital, students on this trip will explore the elevated city’s winding streets as they learn about the local culture. Day trips include horseback riding, touring salt mines and ruins, exploring a cacao plantation and–of course–visiting Machu Picchu. The trip will conclude by witnessing the annual Inti Raymi Festival (the Festival of the Sun), one of the most important celebrations of the year. Contact: Todd McGuire at

June 8–18, 2020 
Group size: 12 students 

Led by history faculty member Nate Jacklin, the group will explore the toll the Cold War took on the city of Prague and its inhabitants by visiting Prague Castle and the underground city, among other sites, before heading to Budapest, where they will visit Momento Park and the famous Szeéchenyi thermal baths. Contact: Nate Jacklin at

United Kingdom: London and Scotland 
June 10–24, 2020 
Group size: 13 students 

Students will find a bit of culture around every corner during this two-week trip to London and Scotland. Led by arts faculty member Kelly Dowling, the group will explore Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square and even have English tea at the Library at County Hall. When in Scotland, the group will tour Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, and all the castles in between. Contact: Kelly Dowling at

New River Gorge
June 3–12, 2020 
Group size: 8 students 

Climb, camp, and swim during this 10-day trip with Director of Outdoor Education Pete Gunkelman. The group will climb for days on end at the famous Endless Wall and head back to camp each night at the American Alpine Club campground nestled into a hillside just north of the New River Bridge. Rest days include swimming at Summersville Lake and whitewater rafting. Contact: Pete Gunkelman at

Shenandoah Backpacking Trek  
June 3–9, 2020 
Group size: 5-8 students

Students will take advantage of the beautiful scenery right in Mercersburg’s backyard as they trek through the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. Trails will lead the group to beautiful mountain views and impressive waterfalls. Although the terrain and weather conditions may be challenging, the bonds made between peers and the fresh mountain air will make it all worth it. The trip concludes with a guided half-day caving adventure before returning to Mercersburg. Contact: Sarah Bozzi at

C&O/GAP Bike Tour 
June 4–10, 2020 
Group size: 8 students 

Led by avid cyclists and faculty and staff members Austin Curwen and Carol Ecton, students will have the opportunity to cycle their way through the beautiful Chesapeake & Ohio and Great Allegheny Passage for six days and five nights. Beginning in Washington, D.C., the group will travel through Maryland and Pennsylvania with a final destination of Pittsburgh, Pa. Contact: Pete Gunkelman at

Thanks to the Howard R. Flock ’40 Fund for Student Travel, students who are 16 years or older may apply for funding for travel (for summer programs only, no funding for spring) through a grant application process. These grants considerably offset the cost of programs to families and further the egalitarian spirit that we cultivate each day. Additionally, Mercersburg’s Global Programs strive to create within students their sense of place as part of the Mercersburg community through Outdoor Education programs and by showcasing our alumni connections all over the globe, most evidenced by this year’s program in San Francisco. 

Students and families are asked to apply for the 2020 opportunities on our online platform, Students are selected for programs based on their indicated program interests, relevant course content or area of study, and whether or not a student has traveled previously, with preference given to older students who have not had the opportunity to travel. A student’s behavioral record is also considered. For more information, parents can visit Mercersburg’s Parent Portal.

Applications open Friday, September 20, and stay open through October 9. Program selections will be announced on October 17, 2019. Once selected for a program, commitments are needed by October 24, 2019, with a $100 deposit. For general questions, please contact Justine O’Connell, director of Global Programs and Initiatives, at