Village School Outdoor Education
The seeds of Chadwick’s commitment to outdoor education are planted with the intention of kindling a lifelong appreciation for nature. As early as kindergarten, Village School students begin exploring their natural world and discovering the inherent wisdom and wonderment of the ecosystems around them. In the third grade, students begin building basic skills during off-campus excursions throughout California, with courses becoming progressively more challenging with each passing year. These skills serve as a foundation for more rigorous backpacking adventures in the Middle and Upper Schools.
In early June, kindergartners participate in an evening outdoor education experience in various locations on campus with WOLF (Wilderness Outdoor Leadership Foundation). Throughout the year, they explore their outdoor environment at recess.
First-graders go on hikes in the Chadwick canyon to study California native plants. They also visit Madrona Marsh in Torrance, where they identify native plants and use math skills to determine the height and length of plants and leaves. They often see evidence of wildlife and the animals themselves, as well as visiting the nature center, where they see displays of animals that live in the marsh, hold animal skins and see live reptiles. Hiking through the marsh, the students see firsthand the beauty of the natural space and learn how to respect their environment.
Second-graders spend a school day exploring the White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro, a part of the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy. They are introduced to animal and plant life cycles found on the preserve, match the life cycles of local animals, and identify and sort different types of seeds while learning about the life cycles of flowering plants. During a nature hike, students find evidence of the life cycles of animals and plants observed along the trail.
Third-grade students stay for two nights at El Capitan Canyon north of Santa Barbara, where they hike and study Native American culture and environmental science while working with scientists from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. On the trip, they meet live reptiles and do a creek hike down to the ocean to do water testing, among other activities.
In fourth grade, students travel to Sacramento for two nights in the spring to learn about California’s history and government. They explore old town Sacramento and travel to Coloma where they experience life as it was during the Gold Rush. They also spend three days and two nights in the Santa Monica Mountains with the Nature’s Bridge Company, building skills to prepare for the more advanced trips in the Middle and Upper Schools. Students learn practical skills like how to pack sensibly, hydrate and hike, as well as personal skills like how to work effectively in groups, be self-reliant and respect their natural surroundings
Students take a five-day course to PALI Mountain Science Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains in the winter. The trip has a focus on science as it applies to the outdoor environment that the students are experiencing. This trip includes hiking and a high-ropes course, where they work on skills like collaboration and critical and creative thinking. For many students, this is their first experience in the snow!
Students take part in a five-day Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) course on Catalina Island before the start of school. This gives current and new-to-Chadwick students a chance to meet and connect for the first time, building their relationship to become lifelong friends. Students get hands-on experience learning about marine biology and the aquatic environment through kayaking and snorkeling excursions both in the daytime and at night. To align more with the Middle and Upper School students, our sixth-graders now do a second outdoor education trip in the spring to continue to connect with nature and develop skills in preparation for the Middle School trips.
See what students get to experience in the Middle School Outdoor Ed and the Upper School Outdoor Ed programs.
All outdoor education instructors are certified Wilderness First Responders trained in CPR, with many having worked for prominent organizations like Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School. The safety of our students in the wild is paramount.
Chadwick School operates under a U.S. Forest Service special use permit in the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests.