Experiential Education

At Dawson, you’ll find that skills and knowledge frequently are driven through real world experience.  The school dedicates one week each August and March to experiential education because constructing meaning from experience is essential to the intellectual and social development of students.


Freshmen Camping

Freshmen take a trip to Brainard Lake where they hike, rock climb, and work together in teams to accomplish camping duties. This is the first opportunity for students to come together as a class and create awareness of the alpine environment. 

Sophomore Community Service

Sophomores travel to Alamosa, Colorado, where they perform community service projects and gain a greater understanding of the service aspects of the Dawson program. 

Junior Leadership 

An expeditionary seminar in positive communication and responsibility, juniors travel in canoes from western Colorado to eastern Utah down the Colorado River.  This experience prepares them for leadership and personal responsibility to the school community, while developing an awareness and greater understanding of the desert river environment. 

Senior Backpacking

As students begin their final year at Dawson, this trip establishes a theme of challenge and independence as trip leaders charge the seniors to move to a more definitive leadership role on campus. In the Indian Peaks Wilderness, students camp and hike in small groups before coming together on the final night. Seniors discuss their responsibilities in the school community as role models and leaders who will strive for greater independence throughout the year. 


A highly-anticipated, weeklong experiential learning program that provides 7th–12th grade students with the opportunity to explore a wide range of educational options outside of the classroom, Winterim is one of the experiences that makes Dawson unique.

With local, domestic and international experiences, Winterim strengthens the regular classroom curriculum by drawing students and teachers into opportunities that help bridge the gap between theory and real life.  Faculty-designed programs support the mission of the school by requiring students to stretch themselves in mind, body, and character while exploring their education from an active, experiential perspective that goes beyond the conventional walls of the classroom.