PEAK Student Leaders Add Energy and Excitement to Popular Outdoor Education Experiences

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Heathwood’s popular PEAK Student Leadership (PSL) program is primed for another successful year now that 40 Upper School students completed the Basic Training program that allows them to become PSL leaders.

Helping with PEAK programs that serve all Heathwood students, as well as students and adults from beyond the Heathwood community, PSL members provide instruction and facilitation for nearly every event offered through thePEAK program, including rope course events, camping, paddling, biking, climbing, and hiking.

The Basic Training program is a 2-day, overnight event held on campus the weekend before school starts at which students learn to lead activities from group games and initiative activities to events on Heathwood’s high ropes courses.

PSL members are expected to earn at least 20 hours of PEAK service during the year in order to maintain their status in the program. Throughout the year, PSLmembers interact with a wide range of individuals from young children to college scholars to corporate professionals, confidently providing instruction, empathy, and positive support for PEAK program participants, and practicing and enhancing personal qualities of leadership related to interpersonal skills, communication, initiative, and responsibility.

For new PSL member Caroline Quan (’20), joining the program felt like an opportunity to combine service with personal and professional development: “Honestly, being in the PSL program is a great way to not only receive community service opportunities, but to also build up leadership skills and experience.”

Returning PSL leader Emma Shealy (’18) says the program has taught her a lot about herself and others: “Being a PEAK Student Leader has been an interesting experience. You learn the importance of patience by constantly telling children not to unhook themselves from the Odyssey. But there is something to be said about getting someone who never thought they could do anything involving heights to go through an entire ropes course.”

Other returning PSL students agree that the program has helped them grow and become better at connecting with others. “From my PSL experience, I have learned that it is important to listen to everyone’s ideas instead of only doing things my way,” says Isabelle Lord, ‘18. 

For Louise Tester, ‘17, “Taking people from all walks of life and learning how to interact and help them on one of possibly the scariest adventures of their life is the most rewarding thing about being a PSL - learning to help people in any situation is the invaluable thing I have gotten from PEAK.”

PEAK student leaders embody the PEAK program itself, says program director Stan Wood. “The enthusiasm and excitement generated during the Basic Training program with this group of students will allow PEAK programs to be transformative experiences for participants this year!” 


About PEAK

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 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.