Leadership Journeys

Each year, the Institute for Leadership & Purpose (ILP) sponsors several experiential learning trips for Calvert middle school students. These impactful leadership journeys include immersive experiences in Costa Rica, New Mexico, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.

Chilamate Eco Retreat, Costa Rica - Fall Leadership Journey

Fifteen Eighth Graders traveled to Central America for seven nights of unplugged outdoor education and cultural immersion at the Chilamate Eco Retreat in Costa Rica. The retreat is bordered by the Costa Rican rainforest, and heavy emphasis is placed on living with the land, rather than living at its expense.

To dig into the relationship between Costa Rica’s rainforest and its people, the students learned about ethnobotany and cacao farming, which is integral to the region’s population and economy. The group also met with local families and children and paid a visit to Don Daniel’s Farm, a local facility where they helped feed pigs, learned about their diets, and worked with Don Daniel to make organic compost.

Cochiti, New Mexico - Fall Leadership Journey

During their five-night journey to New Mexico, 20 Calvert Seventh Graders participated in programming related to cultural immersion, community engagement, and awareness of indigenous peoples and history. In partnership with the World Leadership School, the students regularly met with members of the Cochiti Pueblo community to learn more about the significance of the land, its indigenous populations, and rich customs.
To get to know the community, the students engaged with Cochiti families and students, met with local artisans, and spoke with cultural leaders who described traditional drumming and storytelling practices. In addition to engaging with Cochiti families, the Calvert group explored Bandelier National Monument and toured the Tsankawi cliff dwellings built into the soft stone of the mesa.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Spring Leadership Journey

In 2022 and 2023, Calvert Eighth Graders departed the mainland U.S. for a week-long immersive experience in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they participated in service opportunities, outdoor learning, and cultural lessons aimed at fostering global thinking. The trip was structured around several days of service projects with The World Leadership School and APRODEC, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development to improve Ceiba citizens’ quality of life.

“Learning about different cultures and immersing yourself in different experiences is really great to grow and learn and see a bit more of the world from somebody else’s perspective,” Allie K. ’22 said. “I thought it was really amazing to get to know Puerto Rico on this level.”


Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia - Fall Leadership Journey

In late Fall 2021-2023, Seventh and Eighth Graders traveled to Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia for two four-day leadership journeys.

A working forest, Monongahela provides timber, water, and minerals to local communities and represents one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the United States, which makes it the perfect location for lessons on forest ecology, climbing, caving, and hiking. During one expedition, the students hiked to the top of Spruce Knob, the highest mountain peak in West Virginia.

“The orienteering was pretty fun. I feel like we all did a good job of communicating. Even though we were getting pretty tired, we were still able to land almost exactly at the trail, which was what we aimed to do,” CJ N. ’23 said. 


Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas - Fall Leadership Journey

In Fall 2020 and 2022, Calvert Middle Schoolers participated in a six-night unplugged journey with our partner Cape Eleuthera Institute, where students lived sustainability on the campus of the The Island School in the Bahamas. Through environmental lessons with trained science teachers, snorkeling expeditions, and immersive interactions with the island’s natural wonders, students studied conservation, experienced local wildlife, and expanded their worldviews, which is an important step toward becoming climate-conscious global citizens.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.