Trojan Outdoor Experience
Specifically, TOE seeks:
- to support fine scholarship by modeling, teaching, and practicing individual and group-based decision making; and by guiding students through reflective evaluation of their learning;
- to promote the development of wide, constructive interests by enabling students to explore and pursue varied activities in the natural world;
- to help TVS students become responsible global citizens who recognize their role of stewardship to others and to their environment; and
- to strengthen the development of strong moral character through outdoor, experiential learning.
Overview of the Trojan Outdoor Experience at Trinity Valley School
The Trojan Outdoor Experience (TOE) Program engages students in outdoor adventure, environmental education, and wilderness expedition programming. The program as a whole is voluntary, but participation is strongly recommended, expected, and a large part of the school culture. TOE has been a key fixture on our campus since the late 1970s. It helps facilitate learning primarily through outdoor experiences that serve to help students better understand and respect themselves, their peers, and the natural world. The TOE program is supported throughout all departments and has one full-time faculty member serving as director throughout the calendar year. Activities range from full class trips (TOE Core), included in tuition, to specialty trips both domestic and abroad (TOE Beyond) that are offered at an extra cost. Additionally, there are skill-specific mini-courses (TOE Select) offered in several outdoor areas throughout the year and numerous weekly small- to large-class interactions through either specific programs or initiatives/requests by faculty. Finally, the TOE program manages the Trojan Challenge Course on the Trinity Valley School campus.
- 3rd-grade Core Students spend the day off campus at the Fort Worth Nature Center facilitated by the FWNC staff and docents. Students move through science-based curriculum that complements the regular academic programming they are currently studying. Students return to campus to spend the night in the courtyard, participate in group-initiative games, and take a night hike. The goals of this program include introducing students to our TOE programming, spending the night away but in a familiar place, and beginning to develop a class culture. Basic outdoor safety, early Leave No Trace skills, and general group travel skills are included.
- 4th-grade Core Students travel to Meridian State Park for a day of group games, hiking, and basic shoreline fishing. After spending the night in screened shelters, the group travels to Dinosaur Valley State Park. They get an overview of the dinosaur sites in the learning center and then embark on a three-mile hike to explore dinosaur footprints, ending by wading in the Paluxy River. The goals of this program include learning off-campus camping, Leave No Trace principles, and basic outdoor skills including simple fishing, moderate day hiking, and self- care.
- 5th-grade Core Students spend two nights at Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Groups stay in screened shelters, learn fishing by shore casting, basic paddling skills, basic rock climbing, and rappelling. Goals of this trip include outdoor safety, Leave No Trace principles, introduction of specific outdoor skills (i.e. - paddling/climbing), and introduction of a multi-night experience.
- 6th-grade Core Students travel to Camp Eagle in Rocksprings, TX for four days and three nights of programming by the Camp Eagle staff. Activities include several adventure-based group initiatives, zip lining, rock climbing, rappelling, and a river obstacle course. Goals of this event include group/peer connections over a multi-day trip in a remote location, shaping of class culture, facing personal fears, and learning about reflection and transference.
- 7th-grade Core Students spend a week on the road in a two-segment trip that includes three days of Texas History travel throughout Austin, San Antonio, and Fredericksburg. During this portion, they stay in hotels and tour museums, the state capitol, and other historical locations. The second portion includes three days and two nights at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Here they tent camp, navigate with GPS, rock climb, and rappel. Goals of this program include obtaining a better understanding of Texas history, front country tent camping, topographical map reading with GPS navigation skills, and improving at more technical and difficult rock-climbing skills.
- 8th-grade Core Students travel by airplane for a week of US History touring in a two-part trip to the Washington, DC area. The first three days are spent exploring museums, monuments, and the Capitol. During this segment, the students stay in hotels and travel by coach bus. During the second half, students live in group cabins at Manidokan Retreat Center in Maryland. From this location they canoe, raft, and hike in the Shenandoah Valley. The goals of this trip include learning about our nation’s history through traditional means and also by exploration by watercraft and foot in the mountains where history took place. Basic survival skills, paddling, and Class III rafting are taught during this course in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Students paddle on the Shenandoah River and the Potomac, plus canoe Antietam Creek through the battlefield. There is an extra fee of about $2,000 for this trip.
- TOE Beyond MS Trips These are optional, pay-to-attend trips, anywhere in the continental US. The annual offerings are open to rising 6th-8th graders and typically explore some of our nation’s National Parks. Activities include hiking, camping, rafting, climbing, and canyoneering. Previous trips have taken students to Bryce, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, and Zion National Parks. The goal of these trips is to give the students a taste of what our National Park system offers with the hope that it will foster an attitude of respect, enjoyment, and conservation to share for a lifetime with friends and family. Science and history components, along with hands-on field experiences, relate to the students’ annual academic curriculum.
- 9th-grade Core Students travel by bus to Galveston Island State Park, where they spend four days and three nights tent camping on the beach. The goals of this trip include giving each student a chance to earn 4-8 hours of community service working for the state park and the City of Galveston, while introducing ocean kayaking, off-shore fishing and general beach safety skills, Leave No Trace principles, camping skills, and peer interaction. A partnership with Texas A&M Galveston brings some of their staff to work with the students for a hands-on marine ecosystem and biology lesson in the state park.
- TOE Select There are multiple mini-trips offered to the entire Upper School, but each event is capped at 20 students, with a priority allowed for 10th and 11th graders. These three-day excursions are not included in tuition (average cost is $200/person) and are designed to teach technical skills in various fields at a greater depth. All of these trips teach backcountry-cooking skills. Other areas can include technical climbing, paddling, backpacking, fishing, mountain biking, and backcountry camping. These events are an opportunity for small numbers of students to pursue their passion and gain deeper technical knowledge in a specific field, while also having considerable autonomy over the direction of the actual course and course schedule. Typically, three to four of these courses are offered each academic year.
- 12th-grade Core This event is a two-day, one-night Senior Retreat at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, one hour from campus. Students stay in tents or screen shelters. Goals of this trip include allowing our Senior class to enjoy one last major TOE event together as a class, to bond with peers, and discuss what happens after high school. Activities can include several group initiative challenges, paddling, climbing, guest speakers, and reflection writing.
- TOE Beyond Rising 9th-12th graders can elect to attend a Spring Break or summer adventure trip that typically takes them to a foreign country. Not included in tuition and usually capped at 24 students, these trips allow for longer travel and deeper experiences that further develop our students. The goal of these events includes teaching how to travel abroad and safely enjoy new cultures while exploring adventure-based activities. Previous locations have included Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Austria, Germany, and Italy. These excursions last from one to three weeks.
- TOE Club Re-introduced in 2014, the TOE Club is a student-run organization that offers any Upper School student the opportunity to explore local adventure-based activities in depth. Activities include hiking, paddling, fishing, mountain biking, and camping. The club meets weekly and is supported by the TOE office.
- Trojan Challenge Course A high-element pole challenge course resides on the TVS campus. This course houses seven permanent high elements and numerous temporary lows. The course is run and managed by the TOE office and staffed by individuals who have passed on-site certification. (See Trojan Challenge Course LOPs).
3rd Apr. 20, 2018 FW Nature Center/TVS Fort Worth, TX.
4th Oct. 26-27, 2017 Meridian SP/Dino Valley SP Meridian TX/Glen Rose/TX
5th Sep. 13-15, 2017 Lake Mineral Wells SP Mineral Wells, TX.
6th Sep. 26-29, 2017 Camp Eagle Rocksprings, TX.
7th Apr. 9-13, 2018 Enchanted Rock SP Austin/Fredericksburg, TX.
8th Oct. 14-20, 2017 Shenandoah Valley VA/WVA/MD.
9th May 8-11, 2018 Galveston Island SP Galveston, TX.
12th Nov. 12-14, 2017 Kalpakis Ranch Salado, TX.
Director of Experiential Education
The TOE Booster Club is an organization within the TVS Parents’ Club for the purpose of supporting the experiential education program. The Trojan Outdoor Experience (TOE) begins in LS, and progresses up through the ninth grade to a senior retreat in the fall. Students are introduced to a variety of activities including hiking, rock climbing, orienteering, and kayaking. The TOE program depends on support from parents. The TOE Booster Club provides support by preparing meals in the school cafeteria prior to the three large trips each year. The field kitchen is manned by parents for the seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade trips. In addition to these tasks, parents volunteer to help with grocery shopping and to assist in maintenance of the equipment used by TOE.