Vail Academy takes class outside |

Vail Academy takes class outside

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyEric Alexander, a mountaineer and motivational speaker from Avon, is teaching a new outdoor program to Vail Academy students in the 2009-10 school year.

VAIL, Colorado ” Eric Alexander hopes to inspire Vail Valley, Colorado children to love the outdoors just as his mentors did when he was younger.

Alexander, a local adventurer who has climbed the highest mountains on six of the seven continents, is pairing up with the Vail Academy to teach the outdoors to fifth-eighth graders. The new program, called Outdoor Odyssey, will be a part of the curriculum for all students in those grades next year, said Becki Vancuren, head of marketing and admissions at the school.

The school teaches outdoor classes during the third quarter, but Vancuren said the school wanted to teach students about nature throughout the year. Alexander, of Avon, is a motivational speaker who works with children already. Since his wife used to teach at the Vail Academy, he immediately came to mind as the right expert to lead the school’s new program, Vancuren said.

The school teaches a faith-based curriculum, and the Outdoor Odyssey class won’t be any different. The beauty of it that those subjects will naturally weave into the lessons without actually having to read from a Bible, he said.

“My faith is very important to me. We’ll apply scripture when we can and teach Biblical principles,” he said. “You know, like love one another and don’t drop each other.”

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Vancuren said tuition would cover most of the costs for the program, which includes three monthly classes and one outdoor field trip. There’s a group of parents working on fundraisers for additional costs, and the school is hoping some donors from the community might help out.

Alexander is planning a big end-of-the-year trip for the students and is trying to come up with something big that’s also within a budget. The school has 10 percent less students enrolled for next year as it did at this time last year ” a reminder that Alexander needs to keep the economy in mind when planning excursions.

The program includes summer lessons like rock climbing and camping skills, and winter lessons about things like snowshoeing and avalanche safety.

“Our goal is to get kids to want to be outside,” he said. “We want to get them excited about the world around them and give them the skills to be out there safely.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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