The PEAK Program

Experience the Learning

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.

  • Stan Wood

    Stan Wood, Director

    Stan Wood came to Heathwood in 1983 after graduating from the University of South Carolina. He worked with athletics at the school for 14 years, coaching a variety of sports including softball, basketball, football, and track. He helped initiate the track program at Heathwood, and his varsity boy's basketball teams won two state championships. He served as Director of Athletics from 1990-97. Under his leadership, the school added the cross country and swimming programs. He also helped the athletics program transition into the Charlotte division of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association and later into the South Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (SCISA). In 1998, Stan stepped out of his role with athletics and established the PEAK Program for Leadership, Education and Adventure by creatively enhancing experiential education programs already in place at the school and by adding new programs that took advantage of the natural habitats found on the campus and the school's inherent commitment to providing opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Stan graduated from two immersion programs offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), has been an instructor for both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, is a Master SCUBA Diver and a certified Rescue Diver, and has been trained as a Wilderness First Responder. Stan regularly leads a wide variety of wilderness outings for all age levels through the PEAK program. He has also led outdoor-oriented and/or international trips through the Upper School Winterim program for the past 30 years, and has served as the director of that program since 2015. He also serves as the School's Director of Safety and Security, helping to ensure the implementation of safety and emergency preparedness plans throughout the campus.

    swood@heathwood.org (link sends e-mail)

  • Kelly Turbeville

    Kelly Turbeville, '13, Associate Director

    Kelly Turbeville joined the PEAK Program as Associate Director in the spring of 2017 after an early graduation with a degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education from Brevard College, where she was also a four-year letter winner in soccer. The innovative and immersive program at Brevard provided Kelly with numerous teaching and technical outdoor skills. In addition to her regular curriculum, Kelly participated in and planned two 21-day wilderness expeditions in North and South Carolina. This knowledge has transferred to her position with the PEAK Program seamlessly as she helps plan many of the program's weekend and week-long excursions. She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, trained in basic first aid, and is a Leave No Trace Trainer. When she is not passing on her love of adventure to students at Heathwood, Kelly can be found skydiving, mountain biking, kayaking, or camping. She is a graduate of Heathwood Hall (class of '13), where she served as a valuable PEAK student-leader and played many sports including soccer, which she helped lead to a state championship in 2013.

    kturbeville@heathwood.org (link sends e-mail)

  • Brice Spires

    Brice Spires, '09, PEAK Associate

    Brice Spires has been part of the Heathwood community since he enrolled as a student in 1997. After graduating from Heathwood in 2009, Brice attended the University of South Carolina, graduating with a degree in History in 2013. Brice has been a part-time PEAK Associate since 2009, and has earned multiple certifications in Outdoor Education and Leadership, building on his experience as a Boy Scout who earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Brice became a full-time faculty member in 2015, teaching Middle School History and continuing his work with the PEAK program.

    bspires@heathwood.org (link sends e-mail)

  • Elizabeth Grove

    Elizabeth Grove, '95, PEAK Associate

    Elizabeth Grove graduated from Heathwood in 1995, earned a BA in Secondary Education from Clemson University, and then her Masters in Counseling (Ed.S) from the University of South Carolina. Growing up on a farm and spending summers as a camper and counselor in the mountains of North Carolina helped her to develop a passion for camping, hiking, and all things related to water. Additionally, she gained valuable experience in rock climbing, rafting, high ropes, and backpacking. Prior to joining the PEAK team, Elizabeth served as a professional horse trainer and riding instructor for many years. Her education and counseling backgrounds proved to be valuable in preparing young riders for the emotional, physical, and mental challenges that are inherent in competitions. The PEAK program allows Elizabeth to have fun while getting to know students outside the classroom, working to build relationships that will strengthen her role as the upper school counselor. As an alum, a faculty member, and also a Heathwood parent, she is proud to work with our community to protect, enjoy, and share all that Mother Nature has to offer.

    egrove@heathwood.org (link sends e-mail)

Students in the 3s and 4s classes enjoy canoe rides on the Heathwood Pond in the fall and spring, and hikes on the Weston nature trail throughout the year, and are introduced to archery through their study of Native Americans at Thanksgiving. Students in the 5s classes are introduced to the basic elements of climbing as they have the unique opportunity to fly like a reindeer during the Christmas season and visit the swamp at the end of the Heathwood road in an effort to enhance their observation skills and introduce them to a natural environment.

Classes

Students engage with the PEAK staff through programs arranged by classroom teachers to target specific elements in the curriculum. Third graders participate in an annual event that introduces them to a wetlands ecosystem during Habitat Week through a classroom lesson and a visit to a local swamp.

After School Clubs

A series of grade-level clubs are offered to students after school each semester that introduces them to climbing, paddling, biking, and archery among other activities. Bobcats (first graders), Coyotes (second graders), Hawks (third graders) and Mountain Lions (fourth graders) meet six times, each club meeting focusing on a specific adventure activity. Club space is limited and sign ups are available in August for fall clubs and in December for spring clubs.

Adventure Nights and Campouts

First and second graders have an opportunity to participate in Adventure Night in the fall, an evening of fun at Adventure Base Camp (ABC) that includes climbing on high ropes courses, swinging on the Giant Swing, and roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores at a campfire. Third and fourth graders have grade level campouts, engaging with elements at ABC, camping overnight in tents, and enjoying a pancake breakfast before heading home the following morning. Participation is open to all students in each grade for Adventure Night and campout events and registration is available beginning in August.

Middle School Students PEAKOutdoor Education Classes

All middle school students take a 6-week Outdoor Education class each year which introduces them to an exciting series of adventure elements including high ropes courses at Adventure Base Camp, canoeing, kayaking and fishing at the Heathwood pond, mountain biking on the Weston Trail, archery at the archery range among other events. As students move through the grade levels, the skills learned become more advanced and complex.

PEAK Clubs and Campouts

Middle school students in grades 5-7 have an opportunity to participate in a series of adventure-based club activities throughout the school year. Activities and events include the ever popular Five Guys and Football which includes an afternoon of climbing at Adventure Base Camp (ABC) followed by a trip to Five Guys for dinner before returning to Heathwood for a Friday night varsity football game. Students also have multiple opportunities to ride mountain bikes on single track trails and paddle stand up paddle boards on local rivers, and to enjoy an overnight campout in tents or hammocks at ABC.

PEAK Student Leadership

Students in the 8th grade have the privilege of becoming engaged in the PEAK Student Leadership (PSL) program which allows students to help facilitate PEAK programs throughout the year. In order to participate, students must participate in a 2-day PSL training program held each year over the weekend before school starts in August. Having successfully completed the training, students gain access to the PEAK Google calendar in order to sign up for PEAK events at which they would like to work. Students who become involved in the PSL program are expected to complete 20 hours of work at PEAK events throughout the year.

MS Expeditions (Grade Level Class Trips)

Students at each grade level experience a trip, planned by grade-level teaching teams and the PEAK staff in an effort to connect the classroom curriculum with hands on learning opportunities. Fifth graders reflect on the establishment of the National Forests in the US and its affect on the Native America population with an overnight trip to Asheville with includes a visit the the Biltmore House, the Cradle of Forestry in the Pisgah National Forest, engagement with members of the Cherokee Nation in Western North Carolina. Sixth graders study marine science and ecosystems by participating in an overnight trip to Camp Sewee, located on the intracoastal waterway, engaging with professionals at the Clemson University Youth Learning Institute there. Seventh graders challenge personal limits of comfort by participating in a series of high adventure events at Asbury Hills, a camp located on Matthews Creek in upstate South Carolina. Students create a story by reflecting on their own experience during the 3-day, 2-night endeavor in the mountains. Eighth graders travel to the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina very early in the school year in an effort forge bonds of friendship and trust that will fare them well through their eighth grade experience. These same eighth graders travel to Washington DC for a multi-day experience in the nation’s capital that brings lessons learned in their Civics class to life.

PEAK Upper School StudentsWilderness Explorations

Students have an opportunity to take Wild X, a semester-long, elective class that is adventure-based and 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 are encouraged to complete 10 hours of service to PEAK programs each semester to remain a member in good standing. 

More information and registration is available here.

Outdoor Club

The Upper School Outdoor Club offers activities and events that are available for all Upper School students at Heathwood Hall. Typically, one adventure is planned each semester. Outdoor Club events are often single-day expeditions local on rivers and trails. However, multi-day events can be planned 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 becoming involved in the Outdoor Club are a sense of adventure and a willing spirit!

Summer Programs

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.


PEAK for the Greater Community


Community Programs

PEAK programming, including the facilities and professional staff, are available to organizations beyond the Heathwood community on a contract basis. Leadership development, team building, and adventure activities and events can be planned for professional organizations, school, community and church groups, scout troops, and families. The PEAK staff will work with your group to design a program that meets your goals. Programs can range from two hours to a full day (and even overnight!) and accommodate as many as 100 participants. Most events are staged at Adventure Base Camp on the campus of Heathwood Hall where ground initiatives and high ropes courses offer opportunity for group development through individual and shared challenge. Additionally, paddling activities can be staged on the Heathwood pond or local rivers, and expeditionary events can take place in any number of backcountry venues. Whether you’re looking for an exciting birthday party for your elementary-aged child, an adventure-filled campout for your youth group, or a leadership development program for your corporate staff, let the experienced staff at PEAK facilitate your event. Contact Stan Wood for program and price information (swood@heathwood.org (link sends e-mail)).

Fun Facts

  • Through curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs, the PEAK Program touches every single student at Heathwood Hall, from 2-year olds to 12 graders.
  • PEAK Instructors are involved in planning and facilitating grade-level trips for students in six different grades 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 12th. 
  • Over the last 10 years, PEAK programs have taken Heathwood students to 11 different countries (Ecuador/Galápagos, Peru, Costa Rica, Morocco, Mexico, Cuba, Fiji, Bahamas, Dominica, Honduras, Canada) and over a dozen National Parks and Recreation areas (Glacier, Olympic, Kootenay, Banff, Waterton Lakes, Redwoods, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Great Smoky Mountains, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Crystal River, Mt. Washington and Adirondacks).
  • PEAK programs annually serve over a dozen organizations from beyond the Heathwood community.