in your community

What does it mean to live in a tight-knit, intentional community? At OA, it means sharing space in the dorms, sharing thoughts in Community Meeting, and sharing meals in the Sun Lodge Dining Hall. It means building communication skills and workshopping conflict resolution strategies. It means growing your independence and maturity during weekly Work Crew while also developing lifelong, meaningful friendships with your peers during a Saturday night Coffeehouse. With a maximum of 28 students each semester, you have the opportunity to shape your experience while discovering who you want to be in the world.


Whether you’re on the trail or in the classroom

CIRCLE (Community, Identity, Relationships, Communication, Leadership and Ethics) is our interactive health and wellness class. Developed by OA’s Student Life faculty, students meet weekly to engage in lively discussion on topics such as personal identity, conflict resolution, healthy relationships, leadership styles, and the ethics of living in a modern, technological society. Over the course of your semester, you will form a deeper understanding of your own personal values. You’ll also gather a toolbox of resources for self-care, positive mental health, and resilience during challenging times. You’ll find yourself practicing these skills everywhere from Community Meeting to study hall, in the dorms and on the river.


“The community is life changing and you build such close bonds that you get inspired by everyone you meet. You will form the strongest friendships of your life and an invaluable semester filled with memories to look back on.”

 – Ndezolth, Fall 2023 Student (Santa Fe, NM)

“Of the many, many things of value experienced by my teen as an OA student, the thing that I thought of greatest value was the guidance, supervision, feedback, and modeling that enabled the students to build and thrive within a meaningful, respectful community. Good academics can be found at many schools but Outdoor Academy’s success at teaching community building is something that I regard as rare and precious. Our family is very grateful for our OA experience.”

 – Kyle, Spring 2023 Parent (Louisville, KY)



Build life-long friendships with your cabin mates

At OA, students live in cozy, wood stove-heated cabins alongside 8-10 other students. You’ll have a bed and your own set of shelves, and bathrooms have private showers and changing areas. Each cabin is responsible for keeping their space clean and running smoothly, so weekly Cabin Meetings help everyone get on the same page and debrief the week. Dorm meetings are also a great space to plan cabin activities, sing songs, and see how everyone is doing.


enf_oa_icon_-11A Resident Wilderness Educator lives in each dorm alongside you and your cabin mates. Residents are young, experienced outdoor leaders dedicated to community life at OA. Aside from planning outdoor programming treks, your resident will cook with you, facilitate cabin meetings, hang out in the evenings, and add to the strong community support system at our school.

In your Resident, you’ll find not only a great advisor, but also a skilled teacher and mentor. 


Click on a picture to learn more about different aspects of daily life in the OA community.



OA is a place for you to decide what you want your role in society to be. This could happen during an afternoon conversation at Garden Work Crew, while whittling a spoon and trading ideas at Craft class, or when you and your bunkmates are making your cabin your own during an evening decorating party.


Build self-confidence, find out who you are, and decide who you want to be.

As one of the earliest pioneers in high school semester education, we have heard from over 25 years of alumni that a semester at OA transforms lives. Now, the University of Utah has completed a three year study about the impact that semester schools have on our students. The research echoed the anecdotes we’ve heard from our alumni for years: a semester away during high school in our academically rigorous, physically challenging community allows for deeper identity development, transformative academic engagement, and a commitment to community that allows students to find balance and happiness in their lives.

Check out this summarY ON THE BLOG

(or read the full study here)



Explore OA’s Four Cornerstones