PEAK is Heathwood Hall’s signature outdoor leadership program. With curricular and co-curricular activities in every academic division, PEAK gives Heathwood students hands-on opportunities in wilderness exploration, environmental education and stewardship, and leadership development.
In addition to curriculum-based formal outdoor education classes and ecology trips for students at all grade levels, PEAK offers multi-day adventure outings and expeditions, after-school adventure programs, programs and events for special interest and nonprofit groups, corporate leadership training, and summer camps and expeditions.
- promote understanding and appreciation for the natural world
- develop and enhance specific sets of outdoor/wilderness skills, including those associated with paddling, climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, and Leave No Trace wilderness ethics
- encourage positive and meaningful decision-making, communication, problem-solving and teamwork/team building skills
- challenge and push beyond self-imposed circles of comfort and ability, andpromote opportunity for healthy risk-taking
- instill feelings of confidence, qualities of leadership, and a willingness to compromise
- engage with the local community
- encourage social responsibility
- improve quality of life for others
Students in 5-year-old Kindergarten have an outdoor education class that meets each quarter. Events are cooperatively planned by Kindergarten teachers and the PEAK staff and classes are led by the director of the PEAK program.
Students in grades one through four are introduced to environmental and adventure education through a 6-week formal Outdoor Education class with PEAK instructors. Lower school students learn to paddle and propel their own canoes, work together as small groups through team building and group exercises, and shoot arrows at the archery range, among many other activities.
After School Clubs
Bobcats (1st) and Coyotes (2nd)
Bobcat and Coyote Clubs offer experiences on the Alpine Tower, Odyssey course, Giant Swing, climbing wall, pond, Congaree River and team building initiative activities for first and second graders. Both clubs take place in the fall and again in the spring. Students may sign up for one or both club sessions. The Bobcats and Coyotes meet on Tuesday afternoons following the club schedule. All activities begin at the PEAK classroom immediately after school and end at 5:00 PM. In an effort to maintain a quality experience for all students, club size is limited.
Hawks (3rd) and Mountain Lions (4th)
Hawk and Mountain Lion Clubs offer climbing adventure on Alpine Tower, Odyssey course, Giant Swing, and climbing wall, paddling adventure in the Heathwood pond and Congaree River, biking adventure on PEAK and local community bike trails, archery adventure on the Archery Range and team building initiative activities at Adventure Base Camp. Both clubs take place in the fall and again in the spring. Students may sign up for one or both Club sessions. The Hawks and Mountain Lions meet on Thursdays following the club schedule. All activities begin at the PEAK classroom immediately after school and end at 5:00 PM. In an effort to maintain a quality experience for all students, club size is limited.
Campouts are currently being offered to 3rd and 4th graders. They include a pizza dinner, climbing at Adventure Base Camp, campfire activities, a night hike, an evening pond paddle or climbing on the Heathwood climbing wall, popcorn and a movie, and a hot breakfast of pancakes following the campout. Campers sleep in tents in an established campsite on the Heathwood campus and are thoroughly supervised. The event begins at 6:00 PM and ends at 9:00 AM the following morning. Students bring sleeping bags and pads.
Students in grades 5-7 participate in a multi-week program of outdoor education that includes activities from each of the four foundation elements of the PEAK program: leadership development, wilderness exploration, environmental education and environmental stewardship. And in 8th grade, students have an opportunity to take a Leadership Class that promotes leadership qualities and characteristics through personal challenge and team building activities.
Multiday class trips are a long-standing tradition in the Middle School. These experiences open the door to experiential learning for ALL students in grades 5 through 8. PEAK staff members and grade-level teaching teams plan developmentally appropriate activities on class trips that coordinate with specific curriculum objectives.
5th Grade Class Trip - Students engage in a Revolutionary War Battlefield Tour (Cowpens, King’s Mountain, Historic Brattonsville) and enjoy night of activities at Bethelwoods Camp in York, SC.
6th Grade Class Trip - Students visit natural history, Civil and Revolutionary War sites near Charleston, SC (Bull Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie).
7th Grade Class Trip - A Hero’s Quest allows students look for heroes in themselves and classmates through a series of individual and group challenges. Journal entries throughout the week lead to a formal story written in class. Students spend three days at Asbury Hills near Caesar’s Head, SC.
8th Grade Class Trip - Students enjoy a year-end adventure-filled celebration of hard work that rewards Middle School students for work well-done and previews challenges that await them in the Upper School.
After School Clubs
Pioneer Program (5th)
Ranger Program (6th)
Navigator Program (7th)
Trail Guide Program (8th)
Trail Guides, Navigators, Rangers and Pioneers climb aggressively on the Alpine Tower and Odyssey ropes courses, paddle sit-on-top kayaks in class I and II rapids, ride mountain bikes on single track trails, and compete in a team adventure-expedition challenge, an event that puts climbing, biking and paddling skills to the test in an exciting way. Program events take place on Fridays and Saturdays according to the program schedule. Club members participate with other students in their grade during all Club events.
8th graders in the Trail Guide program are invited to help PEAK staff members facilitate Pioneer and Ranger programs in an effort to encourage the development of qualities of leadership.
ENO Eclipse Events
Students in sixth and eighth grades have an opportunity to camp at Adventure Base Camp in the newly constructed ENO nest. Students bring their own ENO hammocks and hang them in one of several nest areas for the night (tents are provided for those who would rather sleep on the ground). Activities at an Eclipse event take place at twilight. Students experience night climbs on the Alpine Tower and Odyssey course, a night hike on the Weston Trail, and a sunrise paddle on a local river. The event includes a pizza dinner and a pancake breakfast.
Students in have an opportunity to take a semester-long, adventure-based class that promotes skills and activities related to wilderness exploration, leadership development, and environmental education and stewardship.
PEAK Student Leadership (PSL)
PEAK Student Leaders develop and enhance leadership skills by assisting with programs offered by the PEAK Outdoor Center throughout the year. The Center sponsors a variety of different programs for individuals of all ages, including adults. Program activities include climbing, paddling, biking, backpacking, camping, leadership development and team building, and community service. As PSL members, students choose to become involved in programs that are of most interest to them.
In order to become Peak Student Leaders, students must participate in a Basic Training program held early in the school year. Upon completion of Basic Training, members are allowed to help facilitate basic level adventure programs. PSL members who wish to gain additional levels of training may participate in Guide Training Programs in the areas of whitewater kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, backcountry exploration, archery, and fishing.
PSL members must complete 10 hours of service to PEAK programs each semester to remain a member in good standing.
Adventure expeditions are activities and events that are available for all Upper School students at Heathwood Hall. Typically, one adventure is planned each semester. Adventure Expeditions are usually multi-day events that take place in exciting and sometimes remote locations. Past trips have included zip lining high in the forest canopy of West Virginia, rafting the Gauley River (one of the largest whitewater rivers on the east coast), and swimming with manatees in the fresh water springs in Florida. The only prerequisites for Adventure Expeditions are a sense of adventure and a willing spirit!
PEAK offers a series of summer programs, which are available for current students and alumni. Past summer experiences have included trips to the Galapagos Islands, Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, the Florida Keys, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.