Field Expedition Options 2022

John Huie, VVS Headmaster 1970-1974

From the school’s beginning through the Field Trip program, the most unique and significant venture we undertake, we affirm our basic values. Travel can be the most rewarding form of introspection, taking us not only outward, but inward as well. Education can be a blend of reflection and action, study and experience, thought and feeling.
Many schools offer field expeditions, but none do it the way we do at VVS. From the school’s beginning, students have been exposed to the study of people and their creations, and have an added opportunity to find out about other cultures through fieldwork and immersion. Getting students out of their usual surroundings and engaged in a culture different than their own has been the guiding force behind our Field Trips since our first trip in 1948. Trips to parts of the American Southwest that are often off the tourist route are our guide when planning trips. The outdoors play an extensive role in trip planning as well, with extended stops for rock climbing, kayaking, hiking and camping. The third essential component of a trip is service projects where each student plays an integral part.

Students are introduced to Field Trip offerings each September during our Field Trip Fair and then depart for their two-week journey the second week of November.

Field Trips - VVS Style!

List of 9 items.

  • Arizona Footprints: Heritage & Service 2022

    AZ Footprint seeks to enhance students' understanding of the biodiversity, culture, and history which enriches the modern landscape of Southern Arizona while focusing on the VVS principles of environmental stewardship, the value of physical labor, and service to others. Our trip begins with one night at Kartchner Caverns State Park where we’ll visit a pristine living cave system.  From there, we’ll head to historic Camp Rucker, nestled in the Chiricahua Mountains, for four nights.  While at Camp Rucker, we will complete historic preservation projects with VVS alum and esteemed Forest Service archaeologist, Chris Schrager.  We will then spend time in Bisbee (3 nights), Tucson (3 nights), and the surrounding areas visiting essential sites.  These include Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, the Mexico/United States border wall, the San Pedro River, the Dragoon Mountains, the Bisbee Mining Museum, Coronado National Monument, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, El Presidio San Agustin del Tucson and Catalina State Park.  Poet, Logan Philips, will help us put our experience on the page as we think about all this region has shown us.
  • SoCal Ecosystems 2022

    This Field Expedition explores the various ecosystems of SoCal (Southern California), from the Mojave Desert basins, through the coniferous forests perched 10,000 feet on sky islands, to the kelp forests off the Pacific coast.  There will be three main stops, geographically close to one another, but worlds apart in terms of landscape and biodiversity: Fairview Mountain, just north of San Bernardino, Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles, and San Jacinto peak near Idyllwild.  At each location there will be outdoor activities, service projects, ecological/ anthropological explorations, and a creative project.  For instance, at Fairview Mountain we will rock climb, do trail work with a local climbing group, and sketch, on Catalina we will snorkel, clean-up the dive park, explore the local botanical gardens, and make still life art from nature, and at Idyllwild we will undertake an overnight backpacking adventure along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail to the 10,834 foot summit of Mount San Jacinto, taking landscape photos along the way.
  • Sustainability & Borderlands 2022

    This trip will introduce students to the rich environments and cultures of the borderlands around Tucson, Bisbee and Agua Prieta, exploring multiple perspectives of the border.  The trip will base out of Tucson, Arizona and students will cross the border several times into Agua Prieta and Naco, Sonora to participate in important cultural exchanges with schools, fair trade organizations, and art cooperatives.  Students will also be involved in cross-cultural sustainability projects with organizations in Tucson, and planting trees on the border.
  • Canyonlands 2022

    This expedition explores the richness of life in Canyonlands from within the canyon walls, rather than the view from above. We will be camping at Sand Island Recreation Area, along the shores of the San Juan River to explore the richness of indigenous culture in the area around Bear’s Ears National Monument. We will be bunking in cabins in Escalante, UT so we can explore the amazing slot canyons of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. We’ll camp below the north rim of the Grand Canyon to explore the canyon away from the beaten path. While we are at the Grand Canyon, we will work with a National Park Ranger on some service projects to give back to this majestic area. And finally, we will be camping near Hoover Dam to explore canyons from the water in a day-long kayak excursion.
  • Guatemala 2022 (fee: $1600)

    In Guatemala, we will partner with Constru Casa ( to construct two homes for families that are currently living in inadequate tin shacks. The families will work alongside us to build their new homes, allowing us the rare privilege of witnessing and becoming part of a remote indigenous village community. After Constru Casa, we will take a spectacular overnight trip to ascend the dormant volcano, Acatenango. From our campsite on Acatenango, we will have incredible views of the nearby Fuego Volcano spewing glowing lava into the night sky.  We will then work with Fotokids ( on stunning Lake Atitlan with indigenous teens that are being taught to use cameras, video and graphic design to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. We will spend our final day at Camino Seguro (} learning about the powerful programs they have developed to serve the families who live in Guatemala City’s garbage dump. Our hope is that this trip will ignite a passion in students to embrace new cultures and to understand why it is essential that they find ways to serve and improve our world.  They will have an opportunity to live our mission by focusing on international understanding, world citizenship, service to others and the value of physical labor.
  • Grand Canyon Backpacking 2022

    Students will descend into one of the world’s most iconic landscapes with everything they will need for a week of hiking, camping, eating and exploring the Grand Canyon. The group will practice Leave No Trace camping while learning about the magic of the canyon at a walking pace. The days will be filled with challenging hikes from campsite to campsite, fun meals, camaraderie and profound accomplishment. The nights will be spent under the stars and the shadows of the great walls of the canyon. This expedition is a VVS classic and sure to bring stories for a lifetime.
  • Solitude 2022

    This journey will explore a remote, watery canyon in the heart of Southern Utah.  The group will spend seven nights backpacking through Paria Canyon and in the Buckskin Gulch, the longest navigable slot canyon in the world. Midway through our journey, students will spend 48 hours of this experience on "solo", a time spent alone with the raw power of nature. Students will be self-reliant during this time, setting up camp, preparing meals and reflecting on their place in the Universe.
  • Sonora Sur 2022

    During the Sonora Sur trip, students will experience what life is like for people their age in a different culture, through interactive and collaborative activities in northern Mexico. After making our way down through the state of Sonora, to the southern city of Navojoa, students will team up with teenagers from the El Tec preparatory school and engage in social problem solving with an extended Design Thinking workshop. Students will further explore cross-border connections by experiencing the ecology of Sonora through day trips to the mountain town of Alamos, and the archaeological site Tehelibampo along the Mayo river. On our way back up to the border, we will stop in Guaymas and San Carlos along the Sea of Cortez, where we will enjoy the views of rocky mountains along the blue ocean water, and hike through Nacapule canyon.
  • Pueblo Archaeology 2022

    Students will gain an appreciation and deeper understanding of ancient architecture, rock art, ceramics, and other artifacts considered “footprints” of Ancestral Puebloans. The journey begins on Ute tribal land in southern Colorado, then scrambles through canyons and cliffs in Utah, and finally ends with a service project at a contemporary Hopi farm near Kykotsmovi, AZ. The trip includes daily hikes to remote cliff dwellings and rock art sites and learning about different cultures. A highlight of this trip is the inclusion of Native American voices, as our trip will be joined at various points by cultural experts from the Ute, Navajo, and Hopi tribes.
Verde Valley School is an International Baccalaureate boarding and day high school for students in grades 9-12.