Experiential and Outdoor Education
If you think the idea of traveling across a mountain wilderness, guided by only a map and compass makes for great adventure reading and daydreaming… being able to do it is even better!
Or maybe it’s venturing off into the hills, with everything you need to thrive in the backcountry on your back.. or paddling down a remote mountain stream, with the confidence that, no matter what, you are prepared for any circumstance…
Here at SMG we can guide you as you develop your skills in a wide variety of adventure pursuits. As long time practitioners and teachers, we realize that the absolute best way to achieve proficiency is by practicing the activity…. learning by doing. At SMG, we want the lessons to come from interactive “guided discoveries” in the field… not thru classroom lecture and discussion.
Regardless of whether you are a novice, a practiced intermediate, or an old hand, our educational programs and trips are tailored to ensure that each person is challenged to be the best they can.
The staff at SMG has taught classes at more than 8 regional colleges and universities (including Shepherd University, William and Mary, Garrett College’s Adventuresports Institute and GWU) for more than 15 years. The have worked on the national level in conducting adventure training for the professional staff of the YMCA and Boy Scouts. SMG has helped pioneer and develop the baseline curriculum for numerous outdoors skills training topics.
If your desire is to learn a skill, expand your experiences, or master a mountain adventuresport, you have found the place.
Learning to use a map and compass to successfully navigate through a variety of terrain. This is a skill critical for orienteering, adventure racing and backpacking, but it is also one of the basic skills all outdoors enthusiasts should master.
One of the “traditional” and original adventure sports. The SMG climbing program is one of the most respected in the East. We regularly have students travel from places as distant as ME and FL to “learn the ropes”, and climb with our staff. Our numerous local crags in both the Blue Ridge and Potomac Highlands,(MD,VA,WV and PA) ensure that our clients are challenged at all levels.
When you are surrounded by the watersheds of the likes of the Shenandoah, Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, it is hard to find and excuse to NOT paddle. These streams provide paddling opportunities that range from leisurely floats to challenging whitewater.
Cross country skiing to snowshoeing, our highlands provide a great climate for winter activities. Remember: Where we work, at the elevations of our operating areas, the temperatures are often 10-20 degrees cooler than the piedmont and coastal areas nearby.
From the old rolling roads and hills of GW National Forest to the steep and rocky single track of Gambrill, mountain biking is a great way to enjoy a day outdoors. Our staff includes former intercollegiate mountain biking racers who are great teachers (youth and adult) for folks new to the sport and for those wanting to sharpen their competitive edge.
Four-Season Survival Skills
Along with land navigation, this is one of those skill sets that should be mastered by all outdoor enthusiasts. Dayhikers, hunters, climbers, fishermen, paddlers.. and anyone else in between should consider the knowledge from these classes as a fundamental baseline on which all other skills are built.
The art of going out into the backcountry for multiple days at a time, traveling by foot, living out of your backpack, being comfortable in the knowledge that you are prepared to handle any contingency… and seeing the world in a way that few who dwell indoors ever will. Experiences from the sublime (a high mountain wildflower meadow) to the intense (a midsummer thunderstorm) that can never be replicated.
Backcountry Trip Leadership*
Is one of the more advanced learning opportunities we offer. Whether developing a multiple day menu/shopping list for a group, or contingency planning for bad weather or injuries, or planning a route that has waypoints of interest to all ..
This is THE program for anyone who is leading others into the outdoors. Scout leaders, outdoor school staff, wilderness/environmental educators, outing club staff…This training is an absolute essential.
(We developed this program, to a certain extent, from our experience in rescuing and assisting groups in the backcountry. In almost every group, there were common threads of non-planning. Our situational debriefs with other rescue groups and land managers helped expose and clarify the training needs that were being ignored by a vast majority of group leaders )
Wilderness First Aid*
We are proud of our 14 year association with SOLO Schools out of North Conway NH. A pioneer and international leader in the field of wilderness medicine, we partner with them to bring their teaching expertise to our guests, staff and students at least once a year for Wilderness First Aid training courses. Beside WFA, we also utilize their training for our staff (Wilderness) EMTs and the (W)EMT courses we offer in the region.
Our friend, Tim Jacobsen (a noted photographer for both the AP and numerous magazines, and photography instructor at UMD), along with staff member Jeremy Tooley, (2004 PCT thru-hiker whose photographs have illustrated the Pacific Crest Trail calendar as well as our site), offer unforgettable workshops in how to get that perfect wilderness image.
SMG pioneered this sport in the region. Long before the sport was known as “canyoneering”, 30 years ago, we would spend hours in the streams that tumbled off the steeps and out of the canyons of our backyard mountains. Rappelling and jumping into cool, clear pools, scrambling, slipping, sliding, splashing.. The best way in the world to cool off on a hot summer day. Now, it is the hottest adventuresport in the world. Join us and see why.. (and what we’ve known for 3 decades)
* denotes topics that have been, or are being, taught at the college level.