From the beginning, Riverdale offered scholarly teaching alongside experiences in nature. Now a full-time outdoor educator works with the Middle and Upper School faculty on creating programs that teach wilderness skills, build character strengths such as resilience and independence, and offer all students opportunities to enjoy recreational fitness in the outdoors.
Riverdale's active outing club, comprised of students and faculty, takes day trips to Harriman State Park and Breakneck Ridge for hiking and the Shawangunk Mountains for rock climbing. Overnight weekend trips include camping, skiing, and kayaking. Longer trips take place during school vacations. Destinations have included Patagonia, Utah, and Alaska.
The deans work with the outdoor education program on community-building activities. Grade-wide overnight trips at the beginning and end of the school year create opportunities for new friendships and for students and faculty to learn about each other outside of the classroom.
Marshall Nicoloff, director of Outdoor Education, describes how experiences in nature give students a sense of purpose.