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Lessons taught in the classroom are complemented by learning in the field, and the knowledge gained about oneself while exploring the outdoors. With our location in the middle of one of the most incredible places on Earth, students have a unique opportunity to witness geology, biology, and snow science firsthand. Equally, if not more important, field trips, orientation trips, winter hut trips, and Ski Fridays provide a structured and safe environment for students to take risks, face and overcome challenges, and build confidence-leadership skills that will serve them their whole life. From canoes and cliff faces, they see the world-the real world-and learn to operate confidently and comfortably in it. Experiences like this also build strong bonds among teachers and students, which serve as the foundation for our rapport-based learning community. This is why, for decades, each school year begins with orientation trips for Middle and Upper School students.

I will always remember the experiences where I have been able to spend time outside of the classroom, like the canoeing orientation trip in Canyonlands. Our group slept under the stars and spent our evenings laughing by the campfire, surrounded by the beauty of Utah. Alumnus ‘21

Outdoor Education

Outdoor Trips:

  • 4th grade hut trip
  • 5th grade hut trip
  • 5th grade Denver trip
  • 6th grade Booth Falls hike and BOEC ropes course
  • 6th grade winter hut trip
  • 7th grade rock climbing in Buena Vista
  • 7th grade winter hut trip
  • 8th grade rafting trip on the Colorado River
  • 8th grade snow science class and backcountry safety hut trip
  • 8th grade trip to Washington, DC
  • 9th - 12th grade three day wilderness adventure orientation trips
  • 9th grade trip to Buena Vista
  • 11th grade trip to Sweetwater Lake
  • 12th grade trip to New York City

US Orientation Trip

9th Grade Trip

4th Grade Hut Trip

5th Grade Hut Trip

MS Orientation Trip

7th Grade Hut Trip

6th Grade Hut Trip

US Hut Trip

8th Grade Snow Science

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Land Acknowledgement

Vail Mountain School Outdoor Education programs take place on the traditional and present land of the Ute tribes (Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱). We are visitors to this place and we gratefully acknowledge the Native Peoples on whose ancestral homelands we recreate. Through education, we intend to bring a sense of gratitude and respect to the Ute tribe for allowing us to learn and gather on the lands they make their home today. This land acknowledgement is one small act in recognizing the importance of continuing to care for the land and acknowledge the complex history of the creation of public lands in the United States.

VMS operates under a special use permit for outfitting and guiding within the Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest.