We custom design programs by offering day to weeklong experiences that include:
• Get Acquainted/ Group Dynamics: Fun and involving games and mixer activities immediately engage the students in active learning about each other, their instructors, and their course.
• Team development exercises: Incorporate group initiatives that promote cooperation, communication, trust, decision making, problem solving, and leadership development.
• Service learning projects: Students participate in a variety of service learning projects including trail maintenance, watershed restoration through tree planting, and invasive species control.
• Geology programs: Learn about the geologic history of this ancient mountain chain. Hike to the top of Spruce Knob for a view of the ancient tectonic activity OR participate in a two day geology intensive program.
• Forest ecology study: Discover the history of West Virginia’s forests, including logging, railroads, homesteads, and National Forest development.
• Beaver Pond/ Big Run Valley Exploration: Follow the waterways to find traces of beaver activity and discover clues about a beaver’s lifestyle.
• Stream quality monitoring: Study a pristine mountain stream in the headwaters of the Potomac or Mississippi River. Learn to sample physical, chemical, and biological properties of the stream and why water quality is important to human and environmental health. Multi-day watershed education experiences are offered.
• Orienteering and hiking: Hike to Spruce Knob: A view from the top! Learn map & compass land navigation and work together to find Spruce Knob’s summit. Once there, look to the mountains for lessons in geology, team work, and more.
• Nocturnal Explorations: Explore the night with games, a night hike, and other discovery activities. • Amphibian study: First, learn about amphibians with a slideshow. Then, head outside to search for salamanders! The Appalachian “hotspot” of biodiversity helps us find numerous salamanders (sometimes over 100!) in this hands on activity.
• Astronomy: On clear nights, students explore the night sky with the naked eye, binoculars, and through our observatory’s telescope. We have access to one of the darkest skies in the east: a real treat for the novice or experienced astronomer.
• Canoeing: Explore the South Branch of the Potomac, Greenbrier, and Delaware Rivers on multi-day canoe trips. Relax on the calm waters of Spruce Knob Lake.
• Rafting: Incorporate rafting into our off-site courses; the Shenandoah or Cheat River.
• Survival skill development: Learn about survival skills, including fire building, shelter construction, and personal awareness through fun games and activities.
• Sinks of Gandy Cave: The perfect first cave! Delve into the dark and follow Gandy Creek on its journey underground. Learn from the darkness and examine life in the absence of light and earn about the geology and ecology of caves through direct contact. Students will either use map and compass skills while hiking to the caves or be shuttled in vans.
***All caves within the National Forest in West Virginia are temporarily closed. We utilize a cave on private property which is not a known active bat hibernaculum which allows us to use it for programming.