Education should encourage personal growth, stimulating students of all ages on social, intellectual, physical and emotional levels. Just imagine working alongside a skilled teacher and becoming completely immersed in the learning experience.

This is what  — and may be exactly what you or your family member have been waiting for. Within these innovative programs, students aren’t confined to a classroom. Instead, hands-on learning encourages initiative, self-reflection and growth.

The Benefits Associated with an Experiential Education Program

While participating in experiential education programs, students can benefit intellectually, socially and behaviorally. From an academic point of view, participants often:

  • Increase their level of interest in unique areas of study, strengthening their overall understanding of diverse environments
  • Improve their academic performance based on their experiences
  • Strengthen their communication skills, both verbal and written

Children are especially impressionable at a young age when being educated, and with experiential education, not only do they take on unique learning opportunities and enjoy new life experiences, they also:

  • Are exposed to diverse situations, improving their connection with others and promoting social responsibility and the importance of community involvement
  • Learn how to work in a team environment while also taking personal responsibility for their goals and objectives; this not only promotes accountability but will also enhance their problem-solving skills and creativity
  • Increase their understanding of career and networking opportunities, developing a solid foundation for their future

Experiential Education Programs on the West Coast

accredited adventure education programs

The West Coast provides many incredible opportunities to learn and develop a unique sense of self. Each program below is accredited based on Association for Experiential Education standards, meaning these opportunities provide the highest commitment to a quality educational experience.

1. Boojum Institute

Located in Anza, California, this well-respected institute offers a wide range of environmental programs. Students are offered unique hands-on learning experiences, allowing them to expand their skill sets. In addition to promoting self-confidence and a sense of responsibility, the programs also encourage students to develop a lasting respect toward the environment.

This connection to the outdoors encourages self-confidence and self-discovery as students strengthen their communication and leaderships skills. Just some of the activities include sea kayaking, base camp rock climbing and rewarding backpack programs in locations like Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto Mountains.

2. Pali Institute

At the Pali Institute in Running Springs, California, children and young adults take part in progressive learning experiences. These customizable programs offer opportunities across three categories: leadership, education and science. Whether your child would be interested in building outdoor shelters and exploring trails or conducting weather experiments and dissecting squids, this institute is known to bring textbooks to life.

3. Chadwick School

Encouraging the development of “global citizens with keen minds,” the Chadwick School on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California offers experiential learning in the wilderness. As students develop a greater understanding of the world around them, they also learn about the importance of positive leadership and self-discovery.

Chadwick’s Outdoor Education Program is mandatory from grades 3 through 12. Each year, students face new and exciting challenges to prepare for their senior year, when they embark on a 21-day backpacking expedition. Through the entire program, students discover their personal strengths, enhance their level of self-confidence and develop critical thinking skills.

4. Prescott College

Celebrating over 50 years of transformative learning, Prescott College, located in Prescott, Arizona, was recently named one of the top-ten most innovative small schools in the country. Prescott College offers an outstanding interdisciplinary curriculum, so that your child will benefit from wilderness orientation, self-directed education and individual goal setting.

Each individualized program is intended to help students reach their personal and professional goals while strengthening leadership and team-building skills. Just imagine your child actively taking part in bioacoustics research in Kino Bay or spending their summer exploring the environment and culture of Norway — at Prescott College, this can become a reality!

Other Unique Experiential Education Opportunities on the West Coast

Looking for other experiential education programs? Look no further — here are some additional programs on the West Coast that will promote self-discovery, learning and personal growth.

Evoke at Cascades

In Bend, Oregon, you’ll find Evoke at Cascades, a place that enhances self-improvement through unique wilderness therapy and coaching opportunities. From backpacking and fly-fishing adventures to personalized treatment plans, each program encourages positive healing, skills training and the development of healthy relationships.

Dive into Space

In Los Angeles and Clovis, California, students can quite literally dive into opportunity. Created by an NASA educator astronaut interviewee, the Astronautics Academy prepares students for postsecondary education and beyond. Through an immersive learning experience, students focus on math, science, technology and engineering, all while achieving their Open Water Certification.


Located in Tigard, Oregon, Synergo empowers students to empower themselves. Offering outdoor challenges of varying degrees, the staff at Synergo believe that it is our experiences that teach us the greatest lessons. Working with over 5,000 youth in the Northwest each year, their tailored programs encourage self-confidence and awareness.

APEX Adventures

In Soquel, California, APEX Adventures focuses on team-building exercises. From supportive rock climbing to team scavenger hunts, various challenges are offered based on a participant’s unique capabilities. This is a great place to develop problem-solving, leadership and team-building skills.

Valley of the Moon Children’s Center

The Valley of the Moon Children’s Center in Santa Rosa, California, provides a safe and positive environment for children who have been neglected and abused. Offering a range of activities, including gardening and music programs, this center encourages children to become self-sufficient adults.

The Mosaic Project

Supporting the development of peacemakers, The Mosaic Project, located in Oakland, California, provides an opportunity for children of all backgrounds to develop community-building skills while focusing on compassion and understanding.

Outdoor Leadership Program at Central Oregon Community College

The COCC Outdoor Leadership program promotes environmental stewardship, leadership development and life-long learning. Combining both theory and practice, this program offers unlimited challenges in the wilderness, based on the highest standards.

Want to Learn More?

Interested in learning more about national and global experiential learning opportunities? So many unique experiences await — learn more by visiting our programs page today!