Experiential Learning Program

From the moment a student steps foot onto campus, that student becomes a bonafide explorer and is almost immediately whisked away on an introductory three-day backpacking or canoe trip. Why leave campus so soon upon arrival? It’s adventures like these that help our students connect with fellow classmates and faculty, and to see first hand how incredible our location really is. It’s also a precursor to the many, many more opportunities for exploration to come. From week/weekend service and outdoor leadership trips to travel abroad adventures and our beloved Four Point program, opportunities like these help shape our students into well traveled, responsible citizens.

Experiential Travel

Opportunities to explore and serve are exceptionally easy to come by thanks to a passionate group of faculty members and students intent on using their time to make the most of our incredible location. While here, students can join:

  • Week/weekend service trips
  • Outdoor weekend excursions including camping, canoeing, climbing, surfing, swimming, etc
  • Outdoor leadership opportunities including certification in and experience with Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace, and Avalanche Safety
  • Fall, Winter, and Spring Outing Club trips
  • Reachout (Gould’s service club)
  • Gould’s Farm and Forest Program

Experiential Traditions

Other experiential opportunities at Gould include traditions that have students waking up for sunrise skins (sometimes followed by powder turns), jumping into icy waters, and testing gravity and their tolerance for heights –– all in the name of fun. (And, yes, they are all super fun!)

  • Ninth grade ropes course day
  • Mountain Day
  • Earn Your Turns
  • Earth Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Community Service
  • Polar Bears
  • Environmental Awareness Film and Speaker Series

International Travel Opportunities

For those students interested in taking their travels one step further and immersing themselves in other cultures, there are a host of abroad experiences that take place throughout each year:

  • For two weeks in March, students can travel to Spain as part of a language exchange and live with a host family, speak Spanish, and tour the country with stops that include Zaragoza, Madrid, and Barcelona.
  • In April, students are invited to participate in a four-day trip to Quebec City where, once again, students can practice their French linguist skills, as well as tour the city’s various historic and culinary attractions.
  • In August, students can participate in a week-long service trip to Guatemala and help support the program Safe Passage, founded by a woman from Maine.
  • Other travel abroad experiences include Costa Rica, Gaspe Penninsula (Quebec), Patagonia, France, and Switzerland.

Experiential Learning Program Director

Chris Hayward

Director of Experiential Learning
B.S. Saint Joseph’s College
Winter Outing Club
Holden Dorm Parent


Mr. Hayward comes to Gould Academy after working nearly 15 years with adolescents. His focus is wilderness therapy. Also a Registered Maine Guide, Ski Patroller, Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor, and a local search and rescue team leader, he is passionate about programs that offer both adventure and the development of skills to Gould students.