Riverdale was built around the idea of incorporating experiences in nature with "scholarly teaching," and providing opportunities for students to explore nature through academics, athletics, and community-building activities. In 2014, Riverdale added to the program with the hiring of a full-time outdoor educator who is working with the faculty, deans and coaches on creating more experiences for students around building teams, practicing leadership, developing resilience and independence, learning wilderness skills, and enjoying recreational fitness in nature.
Riverdale's active outing club, comprised of students and faculty, has taken day trips this fall to Harriman State Park and Breakneck Ridge for hiking, and the Shawangunk Mountains for rock climbing. Over the Columbus Day weekend, a group took a weekend camping trip to the Delaware Water Gap. Longer trips are in the works for school vacations.
The deans are incorporating team-building ideas from outdoor education into community activities: the annual 9th grade orientation this year included a navigation challenge; the 8th grade trip this spring will incorporate self-reliance in nature into its activities. Teachers in the natural sciences, visual arts, and physical education departments are also looking at ways to collaborate in order to give students experience with learning how to explore and take care of themselves in the wilderness.