In Outdoor Pursuits, students are encouraged to push their limits both physically and mentally in a variety of outdoor settings, while honing their skills in leadership, teamwork, environmental stewardship, and global citizenship. In the tradition of Kurt Hahn, we seek to learn by doing and develop ourselves and each other not just for the outdoors, but also through the outdoors.

Outdoor Pursuits satisfies PA’s Exercise and Sport requirement with three seasons of offerings for all levels of participants. Groups engage in a variety of activities each season, including exploration of rugged New England, outdoor and indoor rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, biking, an extensive high and low ropes course, orienteering, first aid, trailblazing, Leave No Trace and more. Throughout the seasons, team-building activities challenge groups to build resourcefulness, self-reliance, and cooperation.

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A snowy hike up Mt. Monadnock

The core program meets 6-8 hours a week (MTWF or MWF) and normally involves at least one weekend overnight trip and one weekend day trip each term. This program introduces a wide range of activities and skills, some of which are time-intensive in their set up, execution and debrief.

A higher-level program offers similar activities but at a more frequent and intense level. In this program, students may take 2-3 weekend trips, with comp time during the week.

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Fall Outdoor Pursuits

The mild weather and changing scenery this time of year provide excellent opportunities to get out and explore. Backpacking in New England in all its autumnal glory is one of the highlights of the season. Backcountry paddling expeditions, extended fall foliage bike rides and spirited orienteering races are more fall favorites. Experienced outdoors people may continue to enhance their expertise and perhaps specialize in a sport, while those new to Outdoor Pursuits experience the robust variety of the program. All students enjoy this opportunity to go beyond the campus bounds and experience natural New England.

Winter Outdoor Pursuits

The winter means two things for Outdoor Pursuits—bundle up and get outside! This is when Outdoor Pursuits kicks it up a notch and engages in heartier and more intense outdoor activities. Travel on foot, Nordic skis, sled or toboggan through wintry landscapes of the region, especially New Hampshire's White Mountains. Develop skills related to comfortable living in cold weather conditions, as well as savvy use of winter gear like snowshoes, crampons and ice axes. Feel the rush of cold, refreshing air filling your lungs as you challenge Mother Nature and yourself and then enjoy a warming campfire and hot chocolate back at your campsite. Hard work, lots of fun, and the ultimate team sport as each of us looks out for the other.

Spring Outdoor Pursuits

In the spring, participate in diverse outdoor activities, as in the fall, or specialize. Rock climbing is a popular focus in which students test their limits and learn to rely on themselves and each other in order to conquer new heights. Backpacking, paddling and land stewardship are other possible foci, all of which demand mastery of both "hard" and "soft" skills, competent decision-making and interdependence. Motivated groups may seek Wilderness or Community First Aid, CPR, AED or Small Craft Safety certification.

S.O.L.O. Leadership

Veterans of Outdoor Pursuits apply for leadership roles during one or more seasons of their Upper or Senior year—the Senior Outdoor Leadership Opportunity. Trained to deliver the Outdoor Pursuits mission and certified in Wilderness First Aid, CPR and AED, S.O.L.O. leaders join their faculty colleagues in shared facilitation of the program. These students have demonstrated physically and intellectually that they have the ability to lead and act as role models. Prior to their senior year, S.O.L.O. students may apply for scholarship money to attend a summer program with Outward Bound or NOLS. Push your limits in S.O.L.O.

Phillips Academy's Outdoor Pursuits program traveled to Kingston, NH on May 6, 2015 to canoe and kayak from Powwow Pond to Country Pound through the Webster Natural Area.