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Northwood School Announces the Return of the Northwood Outing Club

The Northwood Outing Club is launching in the 2021 academic year. Since its founding in 1905, Northwood School has emphasized a strong connection with outdoor recreation, and the new outing club plans to honor that rich history while creating new and exciting opportunities in adventure education and outdoor sports.

Designed for aspiring and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, the Northwood Outing Club leverages the best assets of the Adirondack Park, North America, and the world to build students' passions for adventure sports and outdoor recreation, and the program includes academic electives as well as a variety of co-curricular opportunities.

Outdoor Adventure Opportunities

Ultimately, the Northwood Outing Club aims to offer trips several times on the weekends every trimester as well as during every single school break. This will give every student the chance to participate while being able to work around their academic and athletic schedules.

Due to Northwood's unique location in the middle of somewhere special where possible happens, students can take advantage of the world-class assets of Adirondack Park, and our proximity to this area lets us plan day trips where students can spend a full half-day rock and ice climbing, white water kayaking, flatwater canoeing, hiking, or backcountry skiing.

Through the Outing Club, students will learn how to engage in a range of outdoor sports so they can take advantage of every season on the East Coast — in some cases, you can even combine vastly different sports on the same day. For instance, you might ski Whiteface Mountain in the morning and then go whitewater paddling on the Ausable River during the afternoon, potentially moving through the melted snow you just skied on that morning.

Outdoor Adventure Trips

Beyond the amazing opportunities right outside the backdoor at Northwood, the Outdoor Club will also plan trips to different places in the United States and the world. For instance, students may go on a Joshua Tree climbing expedition in the Red Rock Canyon over Thanksgiving or hop over to Iceland for a backcountry skiing adventure.

Hopefully, Northwood freshmen will eventually be able to go on a wilderness adventure before they start their first year at boarding school. These types of experiences help build teams and improve group dynamics while allowing students to build confidence and real-world survival skills.

Adventure Education Courses

In addition to the co-curricular options offered through the Outing Club, our boarding school plans to offer several academic electives as part of our commitment to adventure education. During the 2021-22 school year, there are three trimester-long classes on the schedule: Climbing History, Ice Climbing History, and Intro to Paddle Sports.

While the first two courses focus primarily on an academic inquiry into the history of these sports in the local area and the world, Intro to Paddle Sports is a hands-on learning experience. Students start with kayaks in the pool and prepare for whitewater kayaking as they learn how to roll, move their boat, and stay balanced.

There will also be a year-long Expedition Planning course. This class covers the history of the expedition as well as the logistics of planning, and near the end of the school year in April, students will go out west to put their skills to work as they immerse themselves in an expedition. They will stay in a yurt at 10,000 feet, go backcountry skiing, and learn about avalanche awareness, and at the end of the experience, they will have an area certificate in Avalanche safety.

Note that at the time of writing, this trip has not been finalized. However, the staff and faculty hope to hold this trip during the 2021-22 school year and offer similar experiences to Northwood students in the upcoming years.

The Value of Outdoor and Adventure Education

While participating in outdoor adventures such as backpacking or kayaking trips, students learn about dynamic decision-making. They learn how to take multiple stimuli into account while making smart and efficient decisions. Through group outdoor education, they build leadership and teamwork skills.

Most importantly, they learn how to fail. They learn how to get back up and push themselves to new heights. These skills carry into the rest of their lives, as they push past obstacles and confront the risk of failure in their schools, homes, college applications, and eventually in their professional careers.

Of course, they also get to feel the unmatched feeling of success, and they learn how to drive themselves. They become more productive community members.

History of the Outdoor Adventures at Northwood

Northwood alumni used to go on trips into the woods for a week or two at a time, and many formers students cite those adventures as the highlight of their four years at boarding school. The return of the Northwood Outing Club aims to bring those experiences and lifelong memories back for the school's current and future students.

Introducing Bobby O'Connor

The Northwood Outing Club and adventure education program is lead by a variety of teachers, faculty, and professional guides, but Bobby O'Connor is at the helm of this exciting new program.

As a teenager, Mr. O'Connor knew he loved the outdoors and his dream was to climb Everest. He enrolled in the Expeditionary Studies program at SUNY Plattsburg where he eventually earned both a bachelor's and master's degree. Then, he taught outdoor living skills through the Recreation Department at Paul Smith's College in Adirondack Park, and as the school's adventure coordinator, he guided students on rock and ice climbing, paddling, skiing, and mountaineering trips including a trip to the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.

He is excited about bringing his passion and experience to the Northwood community.

Listen to an interview with Bobby O'Connor about the Northwood Outing Club, or read the transcript.

Contact Us About Outdoor Adventures at Northwood School

Outdoor education helps to create well-rounded people who think critically, work as a team, and constantly push themselves to do more, and beyond offering students a great time in the wilderness, our Outing Club fosters our mission of graduating students who engage the world and lead lives of consequences.

We're excited to see the impact these adventures will have on our students, and if you want to learn more about the outing club or other opportunities at Northwood School, we encourage you to contact us today.