An Outdoor Education
San Francisco Waldorf High School integrates outdoor education into the curriculum in innovative and exceptional ways, taking advantage of the region's rich biodiversity, natural wonders, and human resources for student learning and growth.
Students get outdoors for academic study
Science students explore geologic formations in local parks; humanities students write poetry on the beach; architecture students tour City structures that are on the cutting-edge of sustainable design. Across the years, teachers take advantage of local resources to inspire student engagement, creativity, and learning.
Students cultivate gardens and restore habitat
Students work with their hands in gardening and habitat restoration classes, courses that complement the science curriculum and provide first-hand understanding of native plant habitats and the cycles of nature.
Students take wilderness trips
The school is known for its overnight, curriculum-based outdoor education trips. Classes hike, kayak, camp, and explore California wilderness areas while studying astronomy, geology, and botany. Students have opportunities to challenge themselves in the outdoors and develop lasting connections to the natural world.
Students get into nature for physical education
Students may elect to take innovative outdoor education offerings within the physical education department. Courses include backpacking, beginner rock climbing, disc golf, and birdwatching—all held during the school day in local natural areas.
- Sierra Field Study Course: 9th Grade
- Sea Kayak Expedition & Bay Field Study Course: 10th Grade
- Mount Lassen Astronomy Trip: 11th Grade
- Senior Quest
- Senior Trip
- Summer: Range of Light Leadership Adventure Course
Ninth graders spend a week in the Sierra Mountains, hiking, camping, and exploring geologic formations, ecology, and water resources.
The class kayaks to Angel Island for camping and exploration of the Bays Area’s botanical and natural resources.
At Mount Lassen, eleventh graders are mesmerized by the night sky—and Astronomy class comes to life! This trip traditionally begins the eleventh grade year.
Senior Quest is a powerful, optional trip which includes a 3-day wilderness solo designed for personal exploration and reflection. New insights and connections with the natural world make Senior Quest a life-changing experience. Trips typically take place in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Seniors end their school experience with weeklong outdoor trip. Trips vary from year to year and have recently included Yosemite hiking, rafting, and camping at Havasupai Falls, the most remote village in the Continental US.
This summer course is offered Outdoor Education Coordinator Luke Barbee. The ten-day journey into the Yosemite wilderness gives students the chance to connect with nature while applying leadership/team building skills and learning backpacking techniques. It is also an awe-inspiring study of John Muir’s history in the valley.
9th/10th Grades. Students learn how to identify, plant, and care for native plant species. They continue to an on-going restoration of the natural area and spring adjacent to the campus.
9th/10th Grades. Students build and maintain vegetable and fruit gardens around the campus: planting, cultivation, watering, and fertilization. They learn basics of soil science and use of organic materials, and maintain worm compost bins and beehives.
A highlight of the Pacific Rim block is a morning at Ocean Beach. Students establish a comfortable place from which to view the Pacific Ocean - its wave patterns (often a high tide in the fall) and the sky above. They sketch their own version of the water and environment and take notes on what thoughts and feelings it brings them. These notes are then turned into original poems, done with Leslie Marmon Silko’s poem, ‘Prayer to the Pacific,’ in mind.
Outdoor Classroom Initiative
The Outdoor Classroom Initiative is designed to extend the curriculum beyond the school walls into the wilds of the Bay Area and beyond. The initiative is run by a committee of parents, staff, faculty and board members who have unique expertise in ecology, urbanism, and nature education. Learn more about this unique program here.