Outdoor Programs

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.



Upper School Outdoor Trips for 2018

Astrophysics in the Colorado Rockies - June 2018

Astrophysics in the Colorado Rockies—June 2018

Trip Leaders: John Saunders, Beth Pillsbury, Alex Laing

In the Field: June 12–June 20, 2018
In the Lab: June 21–July 13, 2018

Cost of Trip: $3,000. Financial aid is available: please contact Sheila Hicks-Rotella (shicks@riverdale.edu). Trip cost will be billed directly from the Finance Office.

Students who will be Juniors or Seniors in Fall 2018 may apply for this research program. While the program is intended for rising 11th and 12th graders, rising 10th graders with a very high level of interest and especially strong success in science and math are also encouraged to apply.

Trip Description: The Riverdale Astrophysics Program will challenge students to collect data and conduct original astrophysics research. Students will learn about the processes within stars that give rise to periodic variations in brightness and they will conduct photometric measurements of stars using hands-on methods.

The Riverdale Astrophysics Program will start with a trip to the Colorado Rockies to observe the night sky and take data on variable stars. We will leave on the afternoon of graduation, 6/12, and spend the next seven days at cabins in Lodgepole Pine forests of the High Mountain Institute near Leadville, Colorado. In the evenings, we will use our telescope and CCD camera to do photometry on variable stars and asteroids. During the afternoons we will engage in a variety of mountain activities such as hiking, rafting, and kayaking. When we return from the trip, we will spend 15 work days from 6/21 to 7/13 working on analyzing that data and collecting additional data from remote telescopes.

Students will have the opportunity to craft their work into a presentation and poster at our Science Symposium in the fall, and students with continuing interest in the field may use this work as the first step toward a scientific publication.

Students will earn a stipend of $80.00 per day during the time they are working at the RCS campus, between June 21 and July 13.

Application Process: To apply, a student will be asked to 1) write a paragraph saying why they are interested in the program, 2) read and annotate a chapter about variable stars that US science teacher John Saunders will provide, 3) meet with Mr. Saunders to discuss the chapter, bringing lots of questions for him, 4) provide Mr. Saunders with the name of a Riverdale science teacher who will write a recommendation for them, and 5) submit paperwork for a work permit.

Application Deadline: January 17, 2018

Qualified applicants will have:

  • A strong interest in astronomy
  • An ability to be responsible with delicate and valuable scientific equipment
  • Demonstrated success in science and math
  • A willingness to work with computers

Prior knowledge of physics or computer science is not required or expected. We will learn all the topics we need as we go. However, if a student has prior experience with coding, there will be opportunities to use those skills in exciting ways.

Summer Science Research & Outdoor Leadership Expedition: Ecology & Exploration in the Alaskan Arctic - June-July 2018

Summer Science Research & Outdoor Leadership Expedition: Ecology & Exploration in the Alaskan Arctic
JuneJuly 2018

Trip Leaders: Rachel Cox, Marshall Nicoloff

Dates of Travel: June 21July 7, 2018

Cost of Trip: $3,700 (Based on airfare as of December 2018). Includes airfare, ground transportation, lodging, food, and group equipment. Financial aid is available. Please contact Sheila Hicks­-Rotella (shicks@riverdale.edu) for more information.

Application: Students will be selected for this trip based upon their application and feedback from deans and teachers. Due to the nature of this program, rising Juniors and Seniors will be given priority. Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis and should be completed as soon as possible. The application process will close when the trip is full. You may make your application using the online form here.

Trip Description:  To say that the Alaskan arctic is impressive is an understatement. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Gates of the Arctic National Park, alone, comprise of over 43,000 square miles of pristine wilderness in northern Alaska. That’s larger than the state of Virginia! The area encompasses arctic tundra, boreal forests, wild rivers, the Brooks Range mountains, coastal plain, and an amazingly vast openness that one has to experience to believe. While few people can be found in the Arctic, the abundance of diverse wildlife is astounding. More than 45 species of mammal call the Alaskan arctic home, including caribou, wolves, moose, bears, dall sheep, musk ox, and so much more!

Join Lisman Labs and RCS Outdoor Programs on a science research and exploration trip to this amazing region. We’ll backpack through untouched tundra, climb mountains, enjoy 24 hours of sunlight, spot wildlife, and lose ourselves in the vastness of the arctic. We’ll also perform field work as part of multi-institutional research studies that focus on understanding the impact of climate change on arctic species.

Students on the expedition can expect a physically, mentally and emotionally challenging experience, while living, traveling and working as a small team of field researchers and explorers. Students will work to develop skills, tools and attitudes to be competent leaders both in the backcountry and back home. We will focus on two aspects of effective outdoor leadership:

  1. Developing technical skills in wilderness navigation and backcountry travel and research
  2. Developing effective leadership skills including community and expedition behavior, judgement and decision making, communication and teaching, and self-awareness

Backpacking in Bears Ears National Monument, Utah - March 2018

Backpacking in Bears Ears National Monument, UtahMarch 2018

Trip Leaders: Marshall Nicoloff, Jazmin Sherwood

Dates of Travel: March 16March 23, 2018

Cost of Trip: $1,700 (Based on airfare as of November 2017). Includes airfare, ground transportation, lodging, food, and group equipment. Does not include travel insurance. Financial aid is available. Please contact Sheila Hicks­-Rotella (shicks@riverdale.edu) for more information.

Application: Students will be selected for this trip based upon their application and feedback from Deans and teachers. It is our goal to have a diverse group of students on this trip, equally representing boys and girls as well as different grade levels. Applications are due by November 15, 2017. Please download and complete the application form, and submit to Ms. Martinez in KNF’s office.

Trip Description: Join RCS Outdoor Programs on an amazing backpacking expedition in the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area of Bears Ears National Monument, Utah. The area is rich in biological, geological, archaeological, and historical perspectives including Pueblo cliff dwellings with well­ preserved petroglyphs. This canyon trip will offer rugged terrain, beautiful scenery, and solitude. Students on the expedition can expect a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging experience as they learn how to be safe and competent expeditionary leaders. Through this expedition students will work to develop the skills, tools, and attitude to be competent leaders both in the backcountry and back home. We will focus on two aspects of effective outdoor leadership:

  1. Developing technical skills in wilderness navigation and backcountry travel and expedition
  2. Developing effective leadership skills including group communication, conflict resolution, decision­ making, teamwork, teaching, and risk management

Connect with Us

If you would like to learn more about our outdoor programs, please contact:

Marshall Nicoloff
Director of Outdoor Programs
mnicoloff@riverdale.edu 

 

 

Summer 2018

Astrophysics in the Colorado Rockies (Upper School):
   June 12July 13

Summer Science Research and Outdoor Leadership Expedition: Ecology and Exploration in the Alaskan Arctic (Upper School):
   June 21July 7

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