Devin Rotz ’25
Mercersburg Academy’s Mercersburg Outdoor Education program, or MOE, is a PGA program comprised of two tracks: Rivers and Trails, Biking, and Climbing. Already this spring season, the Rivers and Trails program has been very active and having taken multiple trips off campus. These trips embody the zeitgeist of MOE.
Sarah Bozzi, MOE director said, “I think the goal of MOE is to take a group of students and show them the wonders of what the outdoors is.” While MOE activities challenge students on both land and water, there is an even more important aspect of MOE. Bozzi went on to say, “Through taking students into these experiences they build such strong group dynamics, build relationships, and build really strong leadership skills.” The programs offered by MOE are fundamental to developing the interpersonal skills of students at Mercersburg and prepare them for the world.
The adult leaders of the MOE programs shape the student experience. While some have been part of MOE-like programs for years, other developed their skills through personal experiences in the outdoors. Rivers and Trails leaders Jake Kennedy, associate director of admissions, and Kristen Magalhães, mathematics teacher, represent veteran leadership and new energy in the program. Kennedy recalled, “I’ve been doing Rivers and Trails since its inception in 2019.” Magalhães, who has had more than a decade of experience in the outdoor world, is new to MOE. “This is my first season, first year. I did skiing in the winter,” said Magalhães. Though this is her first year leading at Mercersburg, she has been an active participant in outdoor activities for more than a decade.
Goals are critical to MOE, but the programs would not be successful without the student experiences. Many students who join a program in the Fall, Winter, or Spring are newcomers to all aspects of MOE. That was evident during this weekend’s trip. “The kayaking trip was my first trip this term and I really enjoyed it because it was my first time kayaking with a big group,” says Arpi Karapetyan ‘24.
Team building and the supportive group atmosphere among the members of MOE is a priority for the program. Ava Anthony ‘23, a member of the Rivers and Trails program since her freshman year, said, “I feel like this term especially it’s very connected, not all of us of course. Sometimes it’s awkward, but I feel like it’s been that way eventually even when it doesn’t start that way.”
Olivia Wetzel ‘24 described the last trip and ruminated on the next to come, “This trip we went kayaking in Cowans Gap, and we’ve done hiking trips, overnights, and there’s more of them in the future.” As Olivia indicated, it is early in the season and the group has only hints of the many adventures to come.