Hiking off of Donner SummitAt SELS, we use adventure to help teach the character and culture aspects of our curriculum, enhancing the character work that is done in the classroom and at crew or community meetings. We believe that taking appropriate risks—pushing the edge of our comfort zones, and realizing that there is more in us than we ever knew—are critical to becoming the best people we can be.

In Expeditionary Learning, adventure is an approach to learning that promotes risk-taking and courage that can exist in a classroom as well as in natural settings. In either case, students have experiences that are challenging and relevant, including occasions when they are on the brink of both success and failure – both are equally instructive.

How adventure looks at SELS:

Trust Sequence

Grizzly Adventure—This experience is a sort of orientation for certain crews at the beginning of the school year, a time to bond as a crew and establish character norms. Students go to the woods for a four-day experience that includes team building, low and high ropes course initiatives, drama, singing, campfires, readings, service projects to improve the area, and sensory-based night hikes.

Trust Sequence—in the classroom, around campus, and in the surrounding community, students use challenge to build trust among their crew in a sequence from blindfolded partner walks, to trust leans, and sometimes even trust falls.

Camping—Students get a chance to practice living, learning, and even being comfortable in the natural world. Sense of place, observation skills development, and a sense of crew are our top priorities, but we never fail to have a lot of fun while we’re out there!

Camping Crew



Hiking, climbing, and kayaking and other outdoor activities are on the menu of outdoor adventures that take us further afield. We use the natural world as our teacher to spark students’ sense of wonder, and also harness the excitement of emotional challenges to build stronger bonds among us.


A K – 8th public charter school in Truckee, CA