Upper School

The four overarching goals of Sun Valley Community School’s Outdoor Program are to:

  • Build relationships;
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth;
  • Develop relationships with wild places;
  • Teach outdoor skills.

These goals are reflected in the Upper School Outdoor Program curriculum, when students become true partners in programming.

The oldest Cutthroats are expected to be active, enthusiastic participants in their four trips each year, including Fall Campout. Route planning, map reading, trip preparation, menu planning, and gear assignments are all part of student responsibilities.

Upper School students undertake some of the most iconic trips of the school's Outdoor Program curriculum, including the Coast Trip in the fall of tenth grade, the storied Junior Solo in the spring of eleventh grade, and Senior Quest, the trip that unifies the senior class before graduation. Each trip is challenging, unique, and something students talk about long after they have returned.

Upper School students are also exposed to trips of a different sort, including the ninth grade Service Learning week in Salt Lake City and the tenth grade trip to Ashland, Oregon, for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Each trip develops important skills that students will carry with them to college and into the rest of their lives. Upper School outdoor trips are a time to showcase what students have accomplished, to continue to push their limits, to build additional skills, to lead, and to grow exponentially.

Upper School Outdoor Program trips

Ninth Grade

  • Fall: Ninth grade begins with a seven-day whitewater trip on the Main Salmon River. The objectives of the trip are to teach river skills and to provide a bonding experience for the class.
  • Winter: The three-day ninth grade winter trip introduces students to winter camping and continues their avalanche safety education.
  • Spring: In the spring, freshmen embark on a five-day service learning trip in the Salt Lake City area.

Tenth Grade

  • Fall: The seven-day tenth grade fall trip backpacking on the Washington Coastline exposes students to a unique wilderness coast and an “ancient forest” habitat.
  • Winter: In winter, students embark on their most challenging winter trip a three-day backcountry ski trip.
  • Spring: In the spring students travel to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

eleventh grade

  • Fall: The four-day fall trip sends juniors on a Sawtooth Adventure that involves climbing, hiking, and biking.
  • Winter: For their winter trip juniors can choose between backcountry skiing or boarding from a Yurt or Nordic skiing on the Harriman trail.
  • Spring: In the spring students embark on challenging and unique trip. Students immerse themselves in the work of Edward Abbey and Thoreau in the classroom and then participate in a 48-hour solo in the Southern Utah desert to experience solitude first hand. The solo is a formative trip for many.

twelfth grade

  • Fall: Seniors visit colleges or help to lead underclass outdoor trips.
  • Winter: For their winter trip seniors can choose between backcountry skiing or boarding from a Yurt or Nordic skiing on the Harriman trail.
  • Spring: Seniors culminate their Community School experience with the 11-day Senior Quest. The quest is based out of Southern Utah and combines a seven-day wilderness experience with three days of whole class activities.

Fall Campout: This is How We Go Back to School

The Outdoor Program has really given me a sense of self and an appreciation for the outdoors. Seeing all these amazing places inspires me to want to go back out.

-Luma '17

Glimpse the magic of Community School's iconic Junior Solo trip through the eyes—and lens—of Oliver Guy '18.

Upper School Outdoor Program Objectives

  • Provide opportunities to lead classmates and younger students;
  • Take personal responsibility for the success of a trip by assuming integral planning and execution roles;
  • Continue to build important backcountry skills;
  • Prove self-reliance and independence within a nurturing and safe framework;
  • Serve others in need on the ninth grade Service Learning trip;
  • Build strong relationships with classmates, students in other classes, and faculty;
  • Experience a cultural week at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival;
  • Learn to love being alone on Junior Solo;
  • Explore some of the most beautiful wild places in the West;
  • Continue to teach leadership, cooperation, and teamwork;
  • Instill a respect and love for the outdoors;
  • Encourage students to stretch their comfort zones in a nurturing environment;
  • Build stamina, resilience, and grit;
  • Have fun!