Through the outdoor program, I challenged myself, conquered my fears, became more confident and rooted in my own identity, and learned to help others do the same. SAS introduced me to the outdoor community that I will now be a part of for a lifetime.  Luciana Mollica '21, Western Carolina University '25

High atop the Cumberland Plateau, our wooded 550-acre campus provides numerous opportunities for outdoor adventure and environmental education. Whether you're new to the woods or already an avid outdoors enthusiast we'll get you wilderness ready through Adventure Education and our afternoon Outdoor Adventure program. Join the mountain biking team or the climbing club.

Weekend activities often include hikes, camping trips, climbing, and caving expeditions. The campus location on the Cumberland Plateau provides numerous places to hike, mountain bike, rock climb, kayak, and rappel. Caves in the area offer a seemingly never-ending opportunity to go spelunking. A Bouldering Cave and and two MoonBoards, interactive training walls that connect students to a global community of climbers through shared problems and competitive performance rankings, provide avid rock climbers the chance to practice climbing skills indoors before they tackle the bluffs of the Sewanee area.

Adventure Education

Adventure Education is an opportunity for Middle School students to learn to safely explore and enjoy our natural world. The school's 550-acre campus is the setting for activities that include hiking, games, construction projects, map reading, orienteering, farming, and more. Students use their imaginations and hone their sense of adventure as we work on team building, communication conflict resolution, and problem solving skills. As the students progress through Middle School, they move from exploratory activities to more advanced wilderness and farming skills.

See more information about the Adventure Education curriculum.

Outdoor Adventure

Students may choose to take Outdoor Adventure as an Afternoon Program.

Fall: Intro to Outdoor Adventure

Students gain special wilderness skills and important experience in trip planning, leadership, and equipment maintenance with this introduction to hiking, caving, and wilderness camping.

  • Learn basic wilderness first aid and survival skills
  • Build a campsite and campfire and learn to cook a camp meal
  • Fish and swim in area lakes, waterfalls, and cascade pools
  • Hike all campus trails
  • Construct a home base and rainy day shelter
  • Explore nearby points of interest, including Fiery Gizzard, Foster Falls, and Buggytop, Buckets of Blood, and Solomon's Temple I & II caves
  • Complete an introduction to topographical maps and map drawing

Winter: Climbing

Students learn basic climbing techniques and safety practices and build on those skills to push themselves to try ever more challenging routes. Although it is not a required part of the afternoon programs, students are invited to participate in the Climbing Club's evening practices and weekend competitions.  

  • Learn to climb with an emphasis on safety, community, and lifelong skills
  • Improve technical skills
  • Discover a new climbing area near campus and night-bouldering with lanterns
  • Explore campus cliffs
  • Set and work toward goals for strength and fitness
  • Expand comfort zone
  • Enjoy winter climbing
  • Participate in optional weekend competitions

Spring: Adventure Cycling

Recognizing that not all bikers are interested in the competition involved in our fall interscholastic Mountain Biking program, this afternoon program offers an introduction to adventure cycling, a lifetime sport that promotes fitness and an appreciation of the outdoors. 

  • Learn to keep a bike in top working order
  • Gain skills for trail riding
  • Participate in trail maintenance
  • Bike to archaeological sites, geologic points of interest, and other destinations for place-based learning opportunities
  • Participate in an optional bike-packing trip

Outdoors Facilities

Numbers refer to location on Campus Map.

Climbing Shed

The Bouldering Cave offers students opportunities to safely practice their climbing skills no matter the weather. The Mountain Biking Shed is home to our Varsity Mountain Biking Team and houses a shop for repairing and maintaining bikes.

Gunn Lake, snow, canoe,

The smaller of the campus's two lakes (the other being The "Res,") Gunn Lake provides opportunities for outdoor science labs and fishing. Trails surrounding the lake are popular for hiking and mountain biking.

MoonBoards (6)

The school's two MoonBoards are interactive training walls that connect students to a global community of climbers through shared problems.

Watch Mr. Short explain how the MoonBoards work.

Place-Based Education

Many courses at SAS take advantage of the school’s 550-acre campus, including Field Geology, Archaeology, and Environmental Science.

These courses, as well as courses in American Studies and Environmental Literature, reflect emphasis at SAS on immersive experiences that make use of local history, culture, and landscapes to initiate the study of increasingly complex histories and systems.

Cumberland Honors

The Cumberland Scholars program is an opportunity for SAS students who pursue a set of place-based/outdoor requirements to graduate with distinction. 

Winterim and the Outdoors

Recent outdoor-themed Winterim courses include:

  • Winter Camping
  • Caving
  • Splitting Firewood
  • Snorkeling and SCUBA
  • A Hike of Sewanee's 20+-mile Perimeter Trail 
  • Farming
  • Cooking with Fire
  • Fly Fishing

Our Earth Day Tradition

We've been celebrating Earth Day at SAS since 1982. Our annual celebration is a break from regular classes to enjoy a guest speaker, workshops, hikes, service projects, a mid-day feast, and afternoon activities that celebrate our surroundings.

Recent Earth Day workshops include:

  • Wet Cave Adventure
  • Landscape Painting
  • Constructing Solar Ovens
  • Math in Nature
  • Mushrooms and More
  • Earth Tech

Our Campus Lab

Science students at Res

In addition to opportunities for recreation and adventure, our campus is used extensively as an outdoor lab. Students participate in ongoing watershed studies and take courses in Geology, Environmental Science, and Archaeology.

Outdoor Education Faculty

Michael Short

Michael Short

Titles: Outdoor Education & Place-Based Learning Coordinator, Humanities, Mountain Biking (Co-Head), Outdoor Adventure, 6th Grade Level Program Lead, Residential Faculty
Degrees: B.A. English and Environmental Studies, Furman University
M.Ed. English Language Arts, Wake Forest University
Phone Numbers:
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 1019
Fhae Long

Fhae Long

Titles: Visual Arts, Ceramics Instructor
Degrees: B.A., Ceramics and Marketing, Austin Peay State University
A.A., Early Childhood Education, Nashville State Community College
Matt Sparacio

Matt Sparacio

Titles: Middle School Science, Physical Education Teacher, Head Wrestling Coach
Degrees: B.S., History & Elementary Education, Roger Williams University
Tracy Terry

Tracy Terry

Titles: Chemistry, Math & Science Lab, Outdoor Adventure
Degrees: Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, Stanford University
B.S., Chemistry, The University of the South

Tim Wallace

Titles: Humanities Department, Head Coach of Girls' Varsity Soccer
Rob Zeitler

Rob Zeitler

Titles: Director of Athletics, Health and Fitness, Physical Education, Varsity Volleyball (Head), Varsity Boys' Basketball (Head), Residential Faculty, A.O.D (Wednesday)
Degrees: B.S. Physical Education and English, University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse
M.S. Sports Administration, Georgia State University
Phone Numbers:
School: 931.463.2147

Get a taste of SAS Outdoors

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Eagle Scouts

Since 1999, SAS's Troop 14 has graduated more than 41 Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in scouting. 

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