Outdoor Leadership

While Hawken’s Outdoor Leadership program shares the challenge- course work, the backpacking skills, and the team-building curricula of other high school and summer programs, it is unusual for its emphasis on survival skills, advanced navigation, search and rescue, first aid, and authentic leadership. Students who become leaders are expected not only to know a wide range of hard skills, but also to be able to teach them, and to take responsibility for younger students whose application of those skills might be uneven.
The specific goals of Outdoor Leadership are: 
  • to equip students with the “hard” skills needed to safely, comfortably and sustainably enjoy Wilderness experience.  Skills relating to backpacking are particularly emphasized: map & compass navigation; feature navigation; expedition planning; shelter building; stove safety use and repair; backwoods sanitation; low impact fire building; and wilderness first aid. 
  • to build leadership skills by giving students the maximum level of responsibility and independence safety allows. 
  • to develop group and solo problem solving skills by challenging students, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Group and individual ropes course elements ask students to conquer fear, ego, timidity, and hesitation to work collaboratively.  Group camping asks students to overcome fear of the outdoors, isolation, and the pressures of a very small group. 
  • to foster an ethic of responsible and enthusiastic use of the outdoors that they may become both “consumers” and stewards of natural resources.
Taken together, these goals comprise an effort to develop self-sufficiency for the common good, a character trait that allows students to aid a group more than they hinder it, to add more than they take away, and to maximize the success of any collective effort. 
Outdoor Leadership participants should, by the end of a ten-week season and five-day trip, be able to:
  • Work individually and collaboratively on challenges
  • Take a leadership role
  • Follow a leader constructively
  • Take appropriate risks
  • Build survival shelters, debris huts, and in winter, snow shelters
  • Operate a canister backpacking stove
  • Purify water using filter and iodine tablets
  • Tie basic knots (square, bowline, bowline on a bight, figure-eight retrace, safety knot, bowline knot, water knot, rolling hitch)
  • Build a low impact fire and “no trace” it
  • Navigate basic orienteering challenges with map and compass
  • Work with peers in a wilderness first aid emergency (search, primary survey, CPR, diagnosis of common problems, treating lacerations, breaks, sprains, burns, hypothermia, shock)
  • Backpack/snowshoe/kayak/canoe for multi-day trips
  • Be self-sufficient for a 42 hour solo experience
  • Ask for and receive help when needed
  • Give help gracefully
Outdoor Leadership Leaders should be able to:
  • Facilitate individual and collaborative challenges
  • Encourage leadership in others
  • Work with other leaders
  • Manage risk on the ropes course and in the field
  • Teach survival shelter, debris hut and snow shelter construction
  • Operate a canister stove and a liquid fuel backpacking stove
  • Teach water purification
  • Teach basic knots
  • Teach fire building
  • Teach basic orienteering skills
  • Navigate advanced orienteering challenges
  • Direct a response to a wilderness first aid emergency
  • Facilitate give and take among participants in the field
  • Manage and monitor a solo line safely
  • Belay students on the Hawken Ropes Course
  • Monitor and respond to the needs of participants
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Directions  |  Log in  |  440-423-4446