About the Outdoor Program


Embrace the Adventure

Through challenging and inspiring outdoor experiences, the Sun Valley Community School Outdoor Program supports the school’s mission by fostering personal growth, teamwork, and leadership; strengthening the relationships that are unique to our school; providing opportunities for students to develop a love for wild places; and teaching wilderness skills.

Sun Valley Community School students climb mountains and cliffs, run rapids, explore wild coasts and deserts, and overnight in snow shelters. Through these adventures with a purpose, students develop the confidence to take risks and overcome challenges and adversity. By stepping outside their comfort zone, students build confidence and grow in ways impossible in traditional classroom settings. Outdoor trips also encourage environmental ethics that enrich student lives and the lives of others.

We believe unequivocally that the Outdoor Program promotes not only academic success but helps students develop insights about themselves and the world that will serve them well on their journey to adulthood.

A Brief History of the Outdoor Program

Since the fall of 1973, outdoor education has been an integral part of the our school's culture and curriculum, evolving to become a comprehensive, standard-setting Outdoor Program that is integrated with the school’s academic curriculum. Today, the school’s commitment to the exploration of wild places is an essential component in how our students learn. The bonds created in the backcountry lead to dynamic, collaborative experiences in the classroom and are a vital component of a Sun Valley Community School education.

1973: Inaugural Fall Campout


In 1973, Sun Valley Community School founder Sam Hazard declared “Let’s Go Camping!” at the start of the school year, initiating the first school-wide fall camping trip. Since that time, Fall Campout has been a beloved tradition, bringing Middle and Upper School students together with faculty and staff in the beauty of our Idaho backyard for the first days of each year.


1980: Student Trips in the Sawtooth Valley

Annual trips to Perkins Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains are instituted, designed to build strong relationships among students and between students and faculty, and to teach important skills like winter camping, avalanche hazard identification, navigation, and winter survival. Each trip lasted four days and included 8-13 students.

1984: Spring Outs Established

“Spring Outs” were annual Upper School trips designed to offer students and faculty the opportunity to venture beyond our local region and explore. Destinations included American Samoa, Southern Utah, the Washington coast, and Yosemite National Park.

1989: Outdoor Program Curriculum

A committee is formed to expand on the limitless potential of the Outdoor Program. This generated a structured kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum, with overnight trips starting in fifth grade. Longer, overnight trips began in seventh grade, when students and faculty ventured to Utah, Washington, and the mountains and rivers of Idaho. Senior Quest, a two-week spring program in Utah designed to serve as a capstone outdoor experience for graduating seniors, was also added at this time.

2009: Outdoor Leadership Academy

The Outdoor Leadership Academy (OLA) is established to create an “honors level” Outdoor Program. The OLA offers an advanced curriculum designed to teach next-level outdoor skills and instill leadership qualities valuable in settings ranging from the backcountry to the board room.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

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