Course Description

Photo of students in the  wilderness having lunch.WHEN - WHAT - HOW

Students should plan to arrive on Wednesday, July 1st.  We will pick up students from the Burlington Vermont International Airport and from the Dartmouth Coach in West Lebanon, NH (bus from Boston) at no additional cost. Departure:  August 6. Total of 36 days. Click here to see Lyndon Institute's location. 


For the first 3 weeks, students will live in a dormitory on campus, sharing cooking, cleaning, menu planning and other rotating chores (with staff guidance).  Mornings will be devoted to classroom and lab work, while afternoons will focus on building good wilderness skills… Canoeing skills will be a major feature since our main form of travel on the expedition will be paddling over rivers, lakes, bogs, and backwaters.  Dorm life will be basic, with shared bedrooms (separate wings for girls and boys), a common kitchen/ dining room, separate bathroom/showers in each wing, and limited laundry facilities.


The classroom curriculum will focus heavily on the study of general ecology, beginning with a global perspective and quickly narrowing our view to the Northern Forest Eco-Region (really a multitude of interacting and overlapping ecosystems).  As much as half of the classroom time will occur in the fields and forests surrounding the school.  Labs will focus on practicing good data collection skills, testing and sample-taking adapted to field conditions.  We will also focus on major impacts on global ecosystems, consequences of species decline, and ways that government policy and science interact.  Students will begin to identify particular areas of interest and begin to design their own research projects (these can be individual or small-group research projects) to be completed during the expedition.

Group photo of students at a trail head. TRAIL-CRAFT

After lunch, our time will be devoted to building the backcountry skills we will need to be safe and effective scientists while on the expedition.  Canoeing and water safety, campsite selection and set up, “Leave No Trace” protocols, etc… but while we are practicing our skills, we will also be continuing to encourage the students to record their observations of the natural world to reinforce the concepts learned in class that day.  We will spend time learning how to move silently in the forest, to remain alert to tracks and traces of animals, and to build a holistic view of the wild communities around us.  Each student will participate in a two day Wilderness First Aid class (cost included in tuition)
Each weekend will find us on an overnight or double overnight “mini”-expedition into one of the local wilderness areas where the students will have an opportunity to practice their back-country skills as well as begin fine-tuning their research projects.


The group will depart for the expedition on July 26 to the Whitney Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks -- a 6 million-acre forest preserve in upstate New York.  We will camp for 8 nights on Little Tupper Lake, Rock Pond, and Low’s Lake, with a hike into the massive old-growth forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness area.  Opportunities to study the rich biomes of lakes, rivers, beaver meadows, bogs and forests of the Adirondack preserve will be nearly unlimited.
We return to the school on August 3rd and over the next 2 days the students will compile their findings, prepare their presentations, and then on the evening of August 5th, demonstrate, and defend their research topic to an academic review panel (this is open to parents and friends)  Afterward, a small ceremony and celebration will close the semester.  Departure on August 6.