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Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning Programs

Our founding motto is Learn by Discovery®, and one of the key features of an education at The Grauer School is our renowned, worldwide Expeditionary Learning Programs. Our students learn at least as much outside the classroom as in it by spending at least two weeks each year "on expedition".

Expeditionary Learning Programs allow students to “Learn By Doing.” Afield globally and in class, expeditionary learning facilitates active, discovery-based engagement with educational processes, which helps our students make personalized meaning and take ownership of both their academic and larger life journeys. Life is an expedition!

All of our classes weave expeditionary learning programs into curricula because we integrate experiences in the natural world and across cultures. Expeditions offer valuable opportunities to practice the Grauer Philosophy of resourcefulness, compassion, and humanitarian service, as well as broaden students’ education. Arts, culture, geography, physical and social challenges, community service and student reflection are all parts of the expeditionary learning experience. Grauer teachers integrate the natural world and the arts across the curriculum to engage students.

"Whether it be writing a proposal for an expedition, creating an original song, coming up with a science project, or starting a club, there are people at Grauer who will jump on board and support you every step of the way.”
—SK, Class of 2013
The Grauer School's Expedition to China

Learning By Expedition

In and out of the classrooms, learning by expedition can include school exchanges, cultural immersion, hiking, camping, backpacking, diving, climbing, paddling, riding, communing with nature, volunteering, collecting data and folklore, and team-building. Finding a way to make a contribution to the area or to the travel group is the essence. Reading, lectures and activities precede the trip, while team meetings, gratitude circles, and other closure activities help students continue learning by expedition after they return home.

Grauer School students travel all over the United States and the world learning by expedition. One-week expeditions take place each fall and spring, and students choose from among several options. At least one middle school trip and one high school trip are included in tuition. Other options may require additional tuition. We also make learning by expedition possible for everyone by offering local options for students who are unable to travel long distances.


Educational Expeditions Across The United States

“American Culture” is incredibly unique because every geographic location we visit has its own distinct subculture. Each subculture has its own distinguishing cuisines, beliefs, and in some cases, social structures. Educational expeditions in the United States help our students develop empathy, compassion and understanding for people who can at first appear different in some ways, but remain fundamentally the same as they are in so many other ways.

Grauer students have traveled on educational expeditions across the United States to locations including:

  • Alaska Exchange with Nanwalek Native American tribe
  • Arkansas/Mississippi Expedition
  • AstroCamp Astronomy Camp
  • "Back to Our Roots" Camping Trip - Northern California
  • Bay Area’s Marin Headlands Expedition - Northern California
  • Big Bear - California
  • Big Sur - Northern California
  • Boston Area Colleges Tour
  • Boundary Waters Canoe, Camping, and Ecology Expedition
  • California Surf Expeditions
  • Catalina Island Expedition
  • Chicago Area Colleges and the Arts Expedition
  • Colorado Rockies Service and Cross Country Ski Tour
  • Death Valley - California
  • Escalante - Utah
  • Fashion, Math & Service Intensive - Los Angeles
  • Grand Canyon/Sedona Expedition - Inspirations in Nature
  • Grauer School Film Expedition - Northern California
  • Havasupai Indian Reservation - Arizona
  • Idylwild Mindfulness Expedition - California
  • Joshua Tree National Park - California
  • Kona Adventure/Ecology Expedition - Hawaii
  • Lake Powell Adventure Expedition
  • Lakota Indian Reservation
  • Faces of Los Angeles Expedition
  • Majestic Mammoth Mountain Expedition
  • "Me to We" - Service in Seattle, Washington
  • Mind, Body, Spirit: A World Religions Intensive - Northern California
  • Navajo Nation Cross-Cultural Exchange
  • New Orleans Music and Service Expedition
  • New York Colleges Tour
  • Pacific Northwest Expedition - Paddling With Orcas in the Channel Islands
  • Pali Institute
  • Parliament of the World Religions Trip - Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
  • Pinnacles National Monument Camping Trip
  • Point Reyes National Seashore Ecology and Teambuilding
  • Portraits of California Expedition - Northern California
  • Rocky Mountains - Colorado
  • Sacred Zion Expedition
  • San Diego Day Trips: The Culinary Arts
  • San Diego Community Service Expedition: Day Trips
  • San Diego Histórico Expedition: Day Trips
  • San Francisco "Poetry & Lights" Expedition
  • Santa Cruz Mountains Camping & College Tour
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico - Origins Expedition
  • Sequoia National Park - Northern California
  • Surf Team Intensive: Day Trips in Southern California
  • Tennessee Music Expedition
  • Washington DC Expedition
  • West Coast Music Singer Songwriter Performance Intensive
  • West Coast Soul Surfing: Surf and Religion Exploration
  • Wild At Heart: Survival in the City & Beyond
  • Wild West Ranch and Farm Adventure
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park


Grauer School Expeditions Abroad : Global Engagement

Although our investment in Encinitas defines us as local and Grauer school participants alike, expeditions abroad help our students tangibly experience a world extending far beyond Southern California. We construct expeditionary learning curricula based on our understanding that expeditions abroad help facilitate a level of empathy, compassion and cross-cultural communication that has the power to heal our planet by demonstrating what binds us all is greater than what can tear us apart.

Unforgettable Grauer School expeditions abroad have included trips to the following global locations:

  • Africa - Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China - Beijing/Shanghai
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • France
  • Greece
  • Guatamala
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Jerusalem
  • London
  • Mexico - Bahia de los Angeles, Guanajuato, La Paz
  • Northern Europe
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Spain - Barcelona
  • Tahiti
  • Thailand

Watch our video below of past expedition locations around the globe!

Expeditionary Learning for School and Community Leaders

We are committed to continuing expeditionary learning for school and community leaders to find their true selves inside, as well as their places in the world. We are proud to allow our students to begin respectfully, compassionately navigating our global community as passionate, confident, intrinsically-motivated social leaders who also happen to excel in academics.

Ultimately staying true to the fundamental purpose of expeditionary learning for school and community leaders to develop themselves within, learning by expedition comes to mean something intrinsically personal and wholly unique for every Grauer student.

As the worldwide authority in the small schools movement, we love being able to balance our tight-knit, personalized educational environment with helping our students experience the larger world outside the borders of our Encinitas campus.

"As a parent of a Grauer Grad, we quickly realized that the education at The Grauer School was not a simple high school education in core and elective subjects, but a way for our kids to develop the confidence and the character to make them respected leaders in their future communities."
—PW, Alumni Parent