Skip To Main Content

Browse Issues

Issue 2
Summer 2023
Issue 1
Winter 2023
Issue 2
Fall 2022

Browse Categories

Unlocking Hidden Potential

This kind of experience unlocks something powerful in all of us, a kind of confidence, a knowledge that we are capable of more than we once thought.

Chris Duffy

The Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) program connects students to each other and the natural environment.

“At MOE, students get a solid foundation in sports–skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing–they can pursue for the rest of their lives,” says Chris Duffy P '26, director of outdoor education.

Duffy's aim is for students to develop a passionate interest in the outdoors, while unlocking hidden potential by confronting and moving beyond their fears.

“MOE sports are physically and sometimes psychologically challenging,” Duffy says. “This kind of experience unlocks something powerful in all of us, a kind of confidence, a knowledge that we are capable of more than we once thought.”

Through MOE activities, students have an opportunity to work as a team toward a shared goal, and learn lessons about themselves
and others they can apply to various areas
of their lives.

The program's success can be seen not only in the mastery of skills but also as students actively seek new challenges.

“In the mountains, I look at their effort,” says Duffy, who has 20 years of experience using outdoor adventures to teach leadership skills, facilitate character development, and create lasting relationships. “Are they bringing their best selves to challenging group decisions? Are they putting in the work to master their outdoor skills so they can achieve their potential and serve the group? I look to see that they are actively seeking new challenges instead of staying in their comfort zones. When we are not in the mountains, I am looking for a transfer of learning. In MOE, students learn interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-discipline and confidence.”

A foremost task of education is “to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion,” Duffy notes, quoting from a speech by Kurt Hahn, a German educator influential in the founding of several notable institutions, including the Gordonstoun School and Outward Bound.

The student demand for MOE programs exceeds the program's capacity.

“I hope MOE serves as the hallmark of their Mercersburg experience, that students will regard their time with MOE as the most rewarding experience of their high school careers, a place where they learned valuable lessons about themselves and made true connections with their peers.”

  • Feature