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 the 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 the local trail systems. Students will learn how to operate stoves, pitch tents, and plan backpacking trips as well as how to 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 as well as the local crags in addition to more distant locations like Seneca Rocks and the New River Gorge.
The Ski Mountaineering program focuses on a variety of skills geared towards freeing skiers and snowboarders up 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.
In addition to traveling to the ski resort on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Ski Mountaineering participants will meet for dryland training on Mondays and Fridays. Each participant is required to attend a minimum of three weekend day trips that will apply the skills learned earlier in the week.
The Downhill Ski and Snowboard Program allows students the opportunity to work on improving their downhill skills at Whitetail Ski Resort. Experience is required and proficiency turning, stopping, and proper control must be demonstrated. Participants may also have the opportunity to help with service programs at Whitetail Ski Resort.
In addition to traveling to the ski resort on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Downhill Ski and Snowboard participants will meet for dryland training on Mondays and Fridays.
Participation in either Ski Mountaineering or Downhill Ski and Snowboard necessitates that all participants have their own downhill equipment and a season pass from Whitetail Resort. We will work with participants to obtain a season pass. The resort also offers the option to lease equipment for the season.
Mountain Biking focuses on advancing students' cycling skills in order to enable two-wheeled travel on backcountry single track in both the Fall and Spring seasons. Our fleet of mountain bikes covers a variety of sizes in order to suit all types of riders. In addition to off campus trips, our program makes use of the roads on and near campus to train endurance and speed on our cyclocross bikes during the week. Race and Time Trial attendance varies from season to season and is always an opportunity, not an expectation, for all participants.
Though the Outdoor Education department provides all sport specific equipment, students are welcome to use their own bikes when appropriate. 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 (M, W, Th, F) makes use of Mercersburg's beautiful 300-acre campus which includes our single-track skills course and grass track while Tuesday and Saturday trips venture further afield. The season kicks off with a flat ride on the C&O Canal, progresses quickly to the nearby Cowans Gap, Michaux State Forest and Antrim Park, followed by the majority of weekend trips being spent at the Allegrippis Trails of Raystown Lake.
Whether climbing glaciated slopes in Peru or descending into the Grand Canyon’s great depth, students on our expeditions experience a great variety of the world’s outdoor locations.
Expeditions vary in length from a week to a month and take place over spring and summer breaks. These opportunities are used to help expose students that may be committed to other pursuits during the year to the wonders of the natural world. These trips require no experience and all activity specific gear is provided by MOE. We can take you skiing, climbing, kayaking, canyoneering, caving, biking, ice climbing, mountaineering, and surfing. Our locations can be as local as a five-hour car ride to the New River Gorge or a six-movie flight to South America, Europe, or Jackson, Wyoming.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 100 Academy Drive, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173