“I still believe that tandem canoeing is a great way to build social skills in middle school boys. Canoeing with a partner not only develops whitewater paddling skills and teamwork, but it also strengthens self-confidence as the boys progress down rapids and are forced to make quick decisions with instant feedback from the river. Tandem canoeing also forces socialization and communication at a level that few other outdoor pursuits do.” –David Byers, FBRA Co-Founder
Lessons taught in the classroom are complemented by learning in the field, via our comprehensive outdoor curriculum of whitewater paddling, hiking, skiing and the wilderness principles of “Leave No Trace.” With our location in the middle of one of the most incredible places on Earth, students have a unique opportunity to witness and experience the natural wonders of our area firsthand. Field lessons also provide a structured, safe environment for students to take risks, face and overcome challenges, and build confidence–leadership skills that will serve them their whole life.
From canoes and mountain tops, they see the world – the real world – and learn to operate confidently and comfortably in it. Shared experiences like this also build strong bonds among teachers and students, which serve as the foundation for our relationship-based learning community. This is why, since opening our doors in 2009, each school year begins with Induction, at Camp Mondamin for Boys and at Camp Green Cove for Girls.
Once each weekday, our students leave the classroom behind for exploration of our beautiful mountains and rivers. Spring and fall field lessons bring tandem-canoeing expeditions, beginning with stroke instruction on flat water in 6th grade and progressing to navigating Class III whitewater by 7th grade. Winter field lessons are spent honing downhill skiing skills at Cataloochee Ski Area. And during the shoulder season (November and March), students hike as well as conduct service projects on our public lands, perhaps collecting trash, trailblazing, or removing invasive species. Multiple overnight trips throughout the year afford students the opportunity to learn basic camping skills and “Leave No Trace” principles.
The French Broad River Academy operates in Pisgah National Forest with a special use permit.