Educational Programs

Experiential and Outdoor Education

Care and concern for the ecology of the Earth is an essential component of the Crossroads philosophy. Awareness begins in kindergarten, where “no waste” lunches are emphasized and gardening is a weekly process. Students begin participating in the Experiential and Outdoor Education program (EOE) beginning in fourth grade. As students progress through the EOE program, they gain technical skills such as kayaking, camping, skiing and rock climbing and study marine life, desert biomes and the impact of human activity on the environment. Equipped with this knowledge, our students are well-positioned to make intelligent and responsible decisions about the world they will soon inherit.

Elementary School

Fourth graders participate in a three-day trip to Lazy W Ranch in San Juan Capistrano to study California history, including the gold rush, early Spanish settlers and Native American tribes. Activities include panning for gold; testing out hydraulic mining; nature hikes; and a nighttime campfire. The group tours the Ocean Institute in Dana Point and takes a cruise to examine local coastal marine populations. For five days, fifth graders study marine environments at Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay. Students participate in marine life labs and activities including snorkeling, ocean kayaking, hiking, and rock-wall climbing. During free time, students play group games and explore the beach for sea glass and other “treasures.” At night, students take an astronomy walk, dissect squids, snorkel and enjoy a campfire.

Middle School

Each year, regular classes are suspended for one week in favor of a week of camping and outdoor activities that connect with the Middle School science curriculum. Sixth graders head to Joshua Tree National Park for an in-depth study of desert biomes as well as hiking and rock climbing. Seventh grade experiences the marine environment at Morro Bay, observing the impact of human activity on the estuary environment and studying the ecosystem directly while kayaking, tide pooling and hiking. Eighth graders hone their outdoor skills with a five-day mountain camping trip to the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains and may choose between a backpacking trip, an introduction to Whitewater Kayaking or a combination mountain experience.

Upper School

The Upper School EOE program offers courses focused primarily on outdoor leadership and technical skills, field studies and eco-service. After learning basic outdoor skills, students progress to rafting, kayaking, backpacking and rock climbing, challenging themselves and gaining a deeper understanding of the natural world while developing their leadership and collaborative skills. Field study courses include marine biology at the USC Wrigley research facility at Catalina Island; field biology at the Wind Wolves Reserve wildlife corridor; and geology in Death Valley National Park. Students engage in various stewardship projects including habitat and wilderness restoration; trail and road restoration; and wildlife and plant surveys.