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Outdoor Education

Bicyclists on a campus trail

Clinging to the face of a cliff. Slicing through a forest 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 multiweek 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 the help of 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, multiday biking trips, or any other adventure.

Mercersburg students climbing the slopes on skies at Whitetail Ski Resort.

Ski Mountaineering

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.

A Mercersburg student kayaks down on a stream.

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 area creeks, rivers, and lakes, participants will learn how to navigate and wet-exit a kayak, work together to paddle and maneuver canoes, and read moving water. When not on the water, this group will master the fundamentals of orienteering, hiking, and backcountry biking as they take advantage of local trail systems. Students will learn how to operate stoves, pitch tents, plan backpacking trips, and maintain bike tires and brakes. In addition to daily practice Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, this program runs extended trips on Tuesdays and Saturdays as well as overnight trips.

A Mercersburg student biking through a field.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking focuses on advancing students’ cycling skills to enable two-wheeled travel on backcountry single tracks. 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, as well as local scenic roadways. On weekends, trips venture further afield. The season kicks off with a flat ride on the C&O Canal and progresses quickly to nearby Cowans Gap State Park, Michaux State Forest, and Antrim Township Community Park, followed by the Allegrippis Trails of Raystown Lake. The program utilizes our fleet of cyclocross and hardtail mountain bikes.

Two Mercersburg students sitting on a slope with snowboards.

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.


A Mercersburg student climbs a rock face.


 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.

Adventure awaits you.

Contact Outdoor Education