The Oak Hill Outdoor Pursuits Program is a collaboration between the Oak Hill Physical Education Department & The Natural World Program. Each grade in middle school learn about, prepare for, and go on different trips, learning survival skills and a understanding and respect for the natural world.

6th Grade Wilderness Survival Training

In the Survival Unit the students are taught five basic skills needed to survive in most outdoor pursuit activities.  These five skills are: knots, shelter building, fire starting, map & compass, and a ‘ten essentials’ survival kit.  Over the twelve week course the students practice mastering the skills, utilizing the backwoods of the Oak Hill School property. The unit ends with a one night campout on property southwest of Eugene where the students, broken into teams of 3-5, are taken into the woods with only their survival kits to utilize for surviving the night.  This unit lays the foundation for all other skills needed to have a positive and safe outdoor experience.

7th Grade Snow Camping Trip

This trip takes the students into the Willamette, Deschutes, or Umpqua National Forests and adjacent Wilderness areas for a snow camping experience.  The students hike anywhere from 2 – 6 miles on snowshoes to a winter shelter where they spend three days and two night learning to build different types of snow shelters, taking day hikes into the Wilderness, and learning specific skills necessary to survive in a winter setting.  This unit begins three months earlier with physical fitness training, learning how to dress for winter outdoor experiences and what equipment is needed to make a outdoor winter activity comfortable and fun and finally assembling all the gear.  This unit exposes the students to an outdoor pursuit that not many people take advantage of, winter camping, yet it is one of the best times to be out in the woods.

8th Grade South Sister Climb

This is the capstone activity for the program; climbing to the top of the 10,358 foot tall South Sister of the Cascade Range.  This will be a three-day journey; first day to hike into Moraine Lake to establish base camp; second day to climb to the top of the peak and back to base camp; third day breakdown camp and head home.  This outdoor activity will not only call on all the skills learned in the previous units but introduce a few new ones: setting up a tent, cooking on a small outdoor stove, and hiking long distances with full pack. The actual climb will be physically challenging with the last miles being very steep and rugged. No technical skills are required and the reward for getting to the top is great both extrinsically – from the summit you can see half the state on a clear day and intrinsically – it is not every day one climbs a 10,000 foot peak.