Outdoor Education and Class Trips

Experiential education is a hallmark of the Durham Academy experience. Middle and Upper Schoolers begin each school year with overnight, outdoor trips designed to help students get to know their teachers, advisors and classmates. Establishing a cooperative, friendly and supportive sense of community is important as children begin a new phase of their schooling and personal development. The skills fostered in overnight trips beginning in Middle School culminate with Senior Challenge, a six-day backpacking adventure in the North Carolina mountains.

5th Grade: Camp Hanes

The Thursday and Friday before Labor Day Weekend marks a very significant event for fifth-graders: their first overnight school trip! This experience takes place at Camp Hanes, a 400-acre outdoor education center located at the base of Sauratown Mountain. The goal is to establish a cooperative, friendly and supportive sense of community as fifth-graders begin a new phase of their schooling and personal development. 

Activities include team-building exercises, hiking, a water zipline, primitive survival skills, canoeing, and plenty of time for advisory bonding.

6th Grade: Camp Cheerio

Each year, the entire sixth-grade class travels to Camp Cheerio, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On this trip. students create new friendships, renew relationships with old friends, get to know their teachers, and increase their self-confidence by overcoming mental and physical obstacles. 

7th Grade: Falls Lake & Washington

Seventh-graders kick off the year with a trip to Falls Lake for a day of bonding and recreation. 

For more than 30 years, the seventh grade has traveled to Washington, D.C., in February, bringing their study of American history to life. Students spend three days and two nights in our nation's capitol, seeing everything they possibly can and bonding with classmates. 

8th Grade: Camp Kanuga & NC Coast

The eighth-grade year opens with a trip to the Mountain Trail Outdoor School at Camp Kanuga. The program uses environmental and outdoor to teach and inspire students to care for the environment around them.

Then, in February, eighth-graders travel to the North Carolina coast. In addition to fostering deeper friendships as students prepare for the adventures of Upper School, this experience initiates the study of coastal and barrier island habitats. 

9th Grade: Green River Preserve

During one of the first weekends of the school year, ninth-graders travel to Green River Preserve, near Brevard, for their Outdoor Education Program. The focus of the  trip is “getting back to nature” and heightening the sensitivity to our native and natural heritage. To that end, our freshmen spend two and a half days at Green River Preserve, a 3,400-acre land preserve in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While there, students participate in a variety of activities. Daily field studies are led by GRP’s staff of professional naturalists. 

10th Grade: High Rocks

Among the goals of the 10th grade's trip to High Rocks in Brevard are to help students gain an appreciation for group problem-solving dynamics and, in the process, gain respect, tolerance and sensitivity for fellow classmates. Another important focus of this trip is to help prepare students for their Senior Challenge experience; participants learn basic compass and topographical map-reading skills and controlled rock-climbing skills. Students are also challenged with a high ropes course and whitewater-rafting experience.

11th Grade: Civil Rights Tour

The Civil Rights Tour is a departure from the usual outdoor education experiences students have had heretofore. We meet with the foot soldiers of the movement at the various sites we visit in Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham to have the experience of history that can best happen by standing in the places in which it was made. Because this is a more emotional than physical experience, we hold nightly debriefing and reflection sessions in advisory groups.

12th Grade: Senior Challenge

Since the fall of 1979, the senior class at Durham Academy has begun the school year with a wilderness adventure that seeks to challenge each student both physically and emotionally as a way to help them better understand and appreciate who they are, what they are capable of and what responsibility to self and others entails. Some seniors have their Senior Challenge experience in the shadows of the Black Mountains near Mt. Mitchell, and some journey through the ancient Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. 

An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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