A unique offering in Washington-area schools, the Voyageur program introduces youth to outdoor education by teaching them how to climb rocks and paddle a kayak. It includes a competitive element, through the Interscholastic Climbing League, but the program's primary mission is to develop environmental stewardship, leadership, and athleticism.
Classes meet two to five days a week for a total of three to 12 hours, depending on the course level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) and level of commitment (recreational, junior varsity, or varsity). Students are required to attend 75 percent of the course time, to have no unexcused absences and to pass any written and/or proficiency tests. The teachers use facilities on the Close, including NCS's 50-foot freestanding climbing wall, as well as on and around the nearby Potomac.
Some classes may have optional weekend trips and, during school vacations, multi-day expeditions. Past destinations have included the Florida Everglades, the Four Corners region of the Southwest, and Joshua Tree National Park.