The PEAK Program is Heathwood Hall’s signature outdoor leadership and experiential education program. With curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in every academic division, PEAK gives Heathwood students hands-on opportunities in Leadership Development, Environmental Education and Stewardship, and Wilderness Exploration.
PEAK programs . . .
- promote an understanding and appreciation for the natural world,
- develop and enhance specific sets of outdoor and 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 team-building skills,
- expand self-imposed circles of comfort and ability by promoting safe opportunities for healthy risk-taking,
- inspire feelings of confidence, qualities of leadership, and a willingness to compromise,
- encourage social responsibility and engage the local community to improve the quality of life for others.
In addition to curriculum-based formal Outdoor Education classes, the PEAK Program offers after-school adventure programs, multi-day adventure outings and expeditions for Heathwood students, programs and events for special interest and non-profit groups, community education programs, corporate leadership training and team building programs, and summer camps and expeditions.
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 Monday and 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 on hold because of COVID-19.)
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 elements of the PEAK program, leadership development, environmental education, environmental stewardship, and wilderness exploration. Seventh and eighth grade students have an opportunity to take a Leadership Class that specifically promotes leadership qualities and characteristics through personal challenge and team building activities.
(Class trips are currently on hold due to COVID-19.)
Multi-day class trips are a long-standing tradition int he Middle School. These experiences open the door to experiential learning for ALL students in grades 5-8. PEAK staff members and grade-level teaching teams plan developmentally appropriate activities on class trips that coordinate with specific classroom learning objectives.
5th Grade Class Trip - Students engage in a 2-day Revolutionary War battlefield tour visiting Cowpens National Battlefield, King’s Mountain National Battlefield, and Historic Brattonsville, spending the night at Bethelwoods Camp and Retreat Center near Rock Hill, SC.
6th Grade Class Trip - Students engage in a study of environmental science with the staff at the Environmental Education Center at Camp Thunderbird. Camp Thunderbird is a YMCA camp located on the shore of Lake Wylie near Charlotte, NC.
7th Grade Class Trip - A Hero’s Quest allows students to look for heroes in themselves and their classmates through a series of individual and group challenges at Asbury Hills United Methodist Camp near Caesar’s Head, SC. During this 3-day experience, students write a series of journal entries that lead to a formal story written in English class.
8th Grade Class Trip - Students enjoy a beginning-of-the-year challenge and adventure-filled celebration at the National Whitewater Center that promotes a healthy class dynamic as they ready themselves to be the leaders in the Middle School.
Through a series of after-school club events, students in grades 5-7 climb aggressively on the Alpine Tower and Odyssey high ropes courses, paddle sit-on-top kayaks in Class I and II rapids, ride mountain bikes on single track trails and participate in a class campout (in ENO hammocks!).
Eighth grade students are invited to participate in the PEAK Student Leadership (PSL) program in which they help PEAK staff members facilitate a variety of other PEAK programs in an effort to encourage and develop responsibility, initiative, and other qualities of leadership. In addition to being PSL members, 8th graders have the opportunity to travel to James Island in Charleston for an exciting twilight climb at Wild Blue Ropes and a spine tingling ghost tour before heading to camp at James Island County Park. Eighth graders also can participate in a whitewater kayak clinic which allows them to learn advanced paddling skills, paddle on the Saluda, Green and Tuckaseegee Rivers, and become safety boaters on PEAK paddling events.
Students have an opportunity to take Wild X, 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 activities and events offered by the PEAK program throughout the year. PEAK 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.