Experience a day in the life of an Outdoor Academy Student from sunrise to sunset.

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A Day in the Life at The Outdoor Academy

7:00 a.m.

The L.O.D. (Leader Of the Day) rings the bell to wake campus up, and we all head down to the Sun Lodge for Morning Watch. As we gather in silence and walk up the trail, I remember how this hill used to feel so hard at first; now my legs are stronger, and I look forward to it every morning. Together we watch the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I know it’s going to be an amazing day.


7:30 a.m.

While I take the compost from our kitchen down to the Garden, my classmates are helping to cook breakfast, clean the dorms, and start a fire in the Den. We Give Thanks as a community and eat another delicious breakfast: Sweet potato scones, scrambled eggs, fruit, and local bacon.


8:15 a.m.

Morning Classes – First I head to Sikwayi for Spanish with Rodrigo. We’re planning a volunteer visit to El Centro, the Hispanic community center he manages in town.


Then, I work on my Math project with my teachers, Marisa and Emmy. We’re using solar ovens to learn about parabolic curves, and canoeing maneuvers to learn about vector angles.


Study period is next where I work on my writing for English class. Before lunch, I also enjoy my choice period when I have plenty of time to practice guitar on the lawn, toss the Frisbee, write a letter home, and get my gear ready for this weekend’s climbing trip to Looking Glass.


11:55 a.m.

Time for community chores.  Today I will help Mark prepare today’s lunch: coconut curry with chicken and tofu, greens harvested from the garden during yesterday’s Work Crew, and cranberry walnut cookies.


12:15 p.m.

Lunch with the community – It’s so nice to catch up with my friends and the teachers during mealtime.

Quick game of Chess in the Student Den, then I’m off to Environmental Seminar!


1:20 p.m.

Afternoon Classes – Susan has a big debate planned for us today about factory farms and global food economics. It’s really making me think more deeply about where my food comes from and how it gets to my table!


Then it’s time to find Ted for Science class. He loves to take off running into the woods, and by the time we catch up he’s waiting for us by some amazing plant to investigate! In English we sit in the forest while Katie reads poetry by Mary Oliver and asks: “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”  I can’t stop thinking of my answers as I head to the Photography dark room for Art class. On my way I stop by the pond and notice the first specks of autumn color turning in the leaves.



After Community Dinner, I have two hours of Study Hall to finish up the day’s work. Then, at Woodstove I get a chance to relax with my friends over a cup of tea.


As I look around the room I notice how close we’ve become since Orientation Trek, and how grateful I am to be here. One more Goodnight Circle underneath the stars, and it’s off to the cabins.


Weekends at OA

Students at The Outdoor Academy spend one quarter of their semester on wilderness trips in the Southern Appalachian mountains and rivers. Many of our weekends are spent building the technical skills needed for these adventures and exploring the incredible landscape of our campus. When we are not Rock Climbing, Canoeing, or Backpacking, students can be found catching up on school work, finishing a big Work Crew project, organizing dance parties, or enjoying some great weekend activities planned by their Residents. There is also one Family Weekend per semester (in addition to Holiday Break).


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