Outdoor Program

Located in the early-morning shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, the Waterford Outdoor Program has the unique opportunity to introduce students to the richness of a life lived in connection with the wilderness. The goal of the Outdoor Program is to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge, practical skills and fundamental respect required to enjoy a lifetime of safe and meaningful experiences in the wilderness. Outdoor Program participants are consistently challenged intellectually and physically through numerous and diverse adventure wilderness experiences.

Students in the Middle and Upper Schools participate in the Waterford Outdoor Program in a number of ways. The Outdoor Class is offered as an athletic elective and includes weekly afternoon excursions into the Wasatch Mountains to hike, climb, rappel, snowshoe, and backcountry ski and snowboard. All Waterford students may choose to participate in multiple Term Trips offered throughout the year. Trips range from day climbing excursions in the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains to multi-day canyoneering, kayaking, mountaineering and backpacking trips throughout northern and southern Utah. Each year, the Outdoor Program also offers multi-week expeditions for more adventuresome Middle and Upper School students. These wilderness-based trips are included in the Summer Travel program, and have included mountaineering trips in Utah and the Pacific Northwest, sea kayaking trips along the Colorado and Green Rivers, backpacking and canyoneering excursions in Southern Utah, and sailing expeditions in Norway, Alaska, and French Polynesia. 

Upper School students committed to the Outdoor Program and its mission may pursue leadership opportunities through involvement with the Outdoor Program Student Council, which fosters the Outdoor student community, helps to plan trips, and runs the indoor climbing wall for the broader student community. Upper School students also act as intern leaders on Middle School trips.

Please contact Outdoor Program Director, Chris Watkins, for more information at chriswatkins@waterfordschool.org

Outdoor Class

The Waterford Outdoor Class equips students with the knowledge, practical skills and fundamental respect required to enjoy a lifetime of devotion to, and experiences in the wilderness. This is achieved by fostering the students’ deep understanding of a local wilderness area and the inherent, and often unstated, values that wilderness provides to their quality of life, their learning, and ultimately, their existence.

Outdoor Class curriculum is intensive and involves three different classes each week over the course of the school year. These weekly classes include a lecture, discussion-based, or project oriented class, an on-campus skill development class and an off-campus skill development and implementation class in the Wasatch Mountains. Students spend six hours a week, for a total of over two hundred hours each school year, traveling through the backcountry of the Wasatch Mountains by hiking boot, ski, snowshoe, kayak and climbing shoe.

Term Trips

Students involved in the Outdoor Program may spend over 30 nights a year in the backcountry participating in multi-day wilderness trips across northern and southern Utah, as well as in the Pacific Northwest. These trips are available to all students in the Upper School or Middle School and focus on leadership and community development, environmental awareness, technical skill development, and the study of natural and cultural history within the course area.

In addition to offering multiple overnight trips, the Outdoor Program advises a student council and hosts Waterford’s multiple events during the year, including an annual competition on the school’s climbing wall.

Summer Travel

The Outdoor Program offers wilderness-based Summer trips each year that range from backpacking, mountaineering, canyoneering, kayaking and sailing expeditions. Open to all students in the Middle or Upper School, these trips run from 8 to 21 days and aim to provide an impactful wilderness adventure in which students learn fundamental leadership, community- living and technical skills. In addition, students gain first-hand experience with the natural and cultural history of the course area. Please follow the links below to discover more about specific Spring and Summer trips.

Summer 2024 Offerings


Spring, Term and Summer Trips