The Outdoor Academy

Picture a classroom without walls, a math teacher who paddles whitewater, art at the blacksmithing forge, and days spent with the 27 best friends you could imagine. This is The Outdoor Academy, a semester school for 10th and 11th graders located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains near beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.

OA is a fully-accredited semester school built upon four cornerstones: Intellect, Craft, Environment, and Community.

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Intellect & Academics

There are no desks at The Outdoor Academy. Instead, our 182-acre campus becomes our classroom. At OA, you’ll find yourself dashing through the woods to uncover a bed of mushrooms during Environmental Science, reading poetry on the lake dock with your English teacher, and debating news articles with your History class while sitting on a hilltop meadow.

Your classes will all be taught at the honors level, but more importantly, they will be hands-on and experiential. You’ll share your own passions or learn about others’ perspectives, decide on class discussion topics, and explore your own research interests.

OA classes will transfer directly to your high school transcript and can include up to seven honors-level credits and 30 service hours. Check out our curriculum guide if you’d like a detailed description of each class. After returning to their high schools, OA graduates routinely take on leadership positions on clubs and teams and go on to attend distinguished colleges and graduate programs.

Craft & Environment

These cornerstones strengthen our sense of place. In our traditional Appalachian Crafting classes, you might learn how to blacksmith a coat rack, carve a spoon by hand, knit hats, sew a quilt, tend the garden, or bake sourdough bread. By the end of the semester, you’ll be amazed at the skills you develop and the beautiful, useful products you’ve produced. Check out one of our recent Craft Galleries to see examples of some beautiful student projects.

You’ll also spend over a quarter of your semester off campus getting to know yourself and our regional ecosystem by:

  • Backpacking: developing your leadership style on the trail
  • Whitewater Paddling: gaining communication skills on the river
  • Climbing: upping your self-confidence on the rocks

At OA, environmental education means gaining wilderness skills (no previous experience required) while also learning about the natural world and our most pressing environmental issues.


Community living is central to the OA experience. We put an emphasis on living simply, appreciating the value of interacting with one another without the distractions of technology. This means that you’ll interact frequently outside of classes, allowing you to develop authentic, meaningful relationships with your mentors.

Students and faculty work and live alongside one another:

  • During morning chores and weekly campus work crews
  • Preparing weekly Community Dinner together
  • At weekend music jams and evening fire circles

OA welcomes students from schools across the country (public, charter, independent, home school, you name it!), and each semester over half of our families receive financial aid. Our inclusive community offers you the best opportunity to better understand yourself, how you learn most successfully, and your place in the world around you. You'll be able to discover who you are as a student, citizen, thinker, and leader.

Learn more about OA or register for an admissions event on our website!

School Facts

Semester Size


Student Teacher Ratio


Grade Levels

Sophomore, Junior

Focus / Specialty

Environmental Studies, Wilderness Adventures, Community, Character, Creative Arts


Pisgah Forest, North Carolina



Admission Deadlines

Regular decision deadline April 30th. Rolling admissions year round.


Accepting Applications for Fall 2023
Accepting Applications for Spring 2024

Contact Information
Katie Rowlett
Admissions Director

Featured In

Think, create, explore, learn, grow.

For more information and to apply, please visit — The Outdoor Academy Web Site.

Request Information Learn More & Apply