When we teach in places as astonishing as the Olympic Coast or paddle among whales in British Columbia with marine scientists at our side, we frame learning in a way that is powerfully alive. When middle school students stretch themselves – in new countries or on new trails – they create their own identity, built upon personal stories of experience that last their entire lives. When we integrate the study of science and cultures into active research and field study, we model a lifestyle filled with personal responsibility and wonderment.

Why We Go

We view Expeditionary Education as a perfect coalescence of the goals of effective middle schooling. The major areas of development during adolescence are socio-emotional intelligence and communication; physical development, including motor skills and balance/proprioception, as well as habits and interests; and cognitive development in not only academic curriculum, but also the metacognitive processes of reflection. 

On any given expedition, students have an opportunity for guided work on these three aspects of their education at developmentally appropriate levels.

Goals of Expeditionary Learning at Billings

  • Facilitate self-discovery, independence and confidence through new, challenging experiences.
  • Foster strong bonds that promote deeper learning in the classroom.
  • Illuminate the real-world applications of classroom learning.
  • Promote empathy, compassion, and interdependence through shared group experiences.
  • Foster a respectful relationship that inspires awe and wonder for the natural world.
  • Develop an understanding of sustainability and our impact on the planet.
  • Inspire lifelong interest in outdoor pursuits through acquisition of technical skills. 

What’s Unique About our Program?

The teachers! Trip leaders at Billings are not brought in from the outside. Trip leaders are Billings Science, Math, Language Arts, History, Spanish, PE, Technology, Humanities, and Arts teachers who are also highly qualified experiential educators. They are Advisors. They are Billings coaches, substitute teachers, and alumni. They understand the students and bring the experiences on trips back to school to help foster individual growth. They bring their curricular perspective onto trips and mold instruction in the class and activities in the field to strengthen student learning through application.

Teachers/leaders are all wilderness first aid certified and several are wilderness first-responders.

The students! ALL students at Billings participate in the Expeditionary Education program, as it is an integral part of the curriculum. The trips are covered by tuition - no extra fees. No family has to decide which trips they can afford this year because everyone goes!

Over the course of trips, students develop not only independence, but also a strong sense of community with each other and with teachers. 

The mountains are calling, and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.
— John Muir

Where/When We Go

The major expeditionary education events and experiences for each class are listed below; there are numerous times throughout the year when students go on field trips. We are regularly out and about in our neighborhood, making use of the park and partnering with local businesses. 

6th Grade

  • Fall Overnight Camping Trip, Puget Sound
  • Winter Cross Country Skiing Day Trips, Cascades
  • Spring Design Week, Seattle area
  • Spring 3-day End of Year Class Trip, Vancouver, BC
  • Physical Education

7th Grade

  • Fall 3-day Camping Trip, Yakima Valley
  • Winter Cross Country Skiing Day Trips, Cascades
  • Spring 5-day Camping Trip, Central WA
  • Spring 5-day Backpacking Trip, Olympic Coast
  • Physical Education

8th Grade

  • Winter Snowshoeing Day Trips, Cascades
  • Winter 3-day Snow Camping Trip, Scottish Lakes (Cascades)
  • Spring Design Week, Seattle area
  • Spring 3-day Graduation Trip, Whidbey Island/Port Townsend
  • Physical Education