Exploring the watershed is essential to FBRA: every student learns to paddle, ski, climb, camp, and hike through our mountains and valleys. Because we dedicate a day of field lessons every school week and twenty five nights of expeditions over the course of the school year to adventure education, students master technical skills while developing a deep love for the natural world. Instead of relegating outdoor education to an optional club, FBRA places paramount importance on time spent learning in nature.
Weekly Field Lessons
One full school day each week, students step out of the school building and have the world as their classroom. They canoe in the fall and spring; downhill ski in the winter; and undertake service learning, field science, and rock climbing trips throughout the year. The weekly opportunity to work hard and play hard in the woods builds a high level of comfort in rugged environments and the determination to hone their outdoor skills.
The school year begins with Induction Week, a five-day overnight experience based out of Camp Mondamin for Boys and Camp Green Cove for Girls. Students form relationships with classmates and teachers, build foundational whitewater canoeing skills, acclimatize to FBRA culture and habits, and have fun together as a school! Induction Week exemplifies the FBRA philosophy that work, play, learning, and shared adventure are the firm foundation for the best middle school education.
Three overnight trips throughout the year afford students the opportunity to practice camping skills and Leave No Trace principles at destinations that can't be reached on a day trip. Whether they are searching for a campsite in the rain or distributing marshmallows, students develop expedition behavior: determination for the group to succeed. Shared experiences build strong bonds among teachers and students, which serve as the foundation for our relationship-based learning community.
Overnight trips, in tandem with our three-year Spanish language program, prepare students for their annual spring Costa Rica cultural immersion experience.
Service to others is at the core of the FBRA mission and vision. Whether they are helping an elderly farmer in rural Costa Rica build steps on his farm, restoring streams with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, or packing food at Manna Food Bank, FBRA students explore local and international issues by giving back to their communities. FBRA students develop a clear and concrete sense of what it means to contribute to the betterment of society.
Why Tandem Canoeing?
“I still believe that tandem canoeing is a great way to build social skills in middle school students. Canoeing with a partner not only develops whitewater paddling skills and teamwork, but it also strengthens self-confidence as the students 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
Staff provide a structured, safe environment for students to assess and take risks, overcome challenges, and build confidence and leadership skills that will serve them their whole lives. Because all full time staff members also lead outdoor education trips, students form unique relationships with their teachers that carry over into the classroom, and teachers gain a multifaceted understanding of each child’s development.
In addition to internal training, staff ensure their instruction is consistent with the best professional practices by pursuing industry certifications from SOLO Wilderness Medicine, American Canoe Association, American Mountain Guide Association, Professional Ski Instructor Association, and the Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Association.
The French Broad River Academy operates in the Pisgah, Nantahala, Francis Marion & Sumter National Forests with a special use permit. The USDA prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202)720-5964. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.