Freedom Mountain Academy: Wilderness Adventure

Students enrolled in our boarding school spend 6 days each month engaged in wilderness training. Backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, and into the Gentry Falls wilderness area provide adventurous young adults, as well as less energetic youth with a tremendous opportunity to experience self-reliance in a new way, while dramatically increasing their appreciation of the natural environment. They learn wilderness first-aid, rappelling, shelter-building, campfire cookery, map and compass reading, and, of course, the all-important skill of starting a campfire in any kind of weather.

At Freedom Mountain Academy, students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, but not too far. The carefully balanced elements of reflective thinking in the classroom and intelligent daring in the wilderness give our students the opportunity to learn vital life and leadership skills in a safe and supervised environment.

The first expedition begins on the third day of school and lasts for six days. All aspects of our training are kept at a pace that allows each student to develop his or her muscles and mental processes intelligently and harmoniously. Because of the intentionally restrained and gradual process of development, all students are able to participate in all expeditions. Each month the students spend six days in the wilderness, learning new skills that allow them to thrive as the challenges increase.


Among the skills learned by Freedom Mountain Academy students are:

Search and Rescue:

Students are taught elementary first-aid, including recognizing signs of shock, hypothermia, and concussion, how to control bleeding, splint a broken bone or sprain, and build a stretcher. Their training culminates in a wilderness emergency exercise that requires all students to participate and demonstrate their individual abilities.

Map and Compass:

All students are required to carry a compass at all times in the wilderness and are instructed in its use. All students participate in compass hikes which require them to chart their course, and follow it out and back. They are also instructed in using topographical maps to understand the terrain features of the course they are navigating.

Survival Shelters:

Early in the program, students are taught how to construct simple, weatherproof, survival shelters which they are required to sleep in overnight.


Freedom Mountain Academy students are instructed in recognizing the signs of weather change by paying close attention to variations in cloud-cover and wind. Our location, in the mountains of northeast Tennessee, provides a perfect laboratory for this type of basic meteorology, and the students become proud of their ability to “read” the weather conditions headed their way.

Campfire Cookery:

We provide a carefully planned diet geared toward the number of calories the students will burn in the mountains. All students carry their own food supplies and are required to cook two hot meals each day for themselves over their campfires.

Each expedition is designed around specific challenges, which, when completed, culminate in a four day solo expedition, during which each student demonstrates his/her ability to thrive in a wilderness setting.

Unlike traditional wilderness therapy programs or wilderness camps, the Freedom Mountain Academy wilderness program is one part of a more comprehensive program created for students enrolled in our specialty boarding school.”