Gunn Outdoors

Throughout The Frederick Gunn School’s history, students have been encouraged to experience their natural surroundings – and grow in their knowledge of the outdoors as leaders – by hiking, camping, canoeing, backpacking, and taking their lessons outdoors. Such activities are naturally encouraged by the school’s location in the beautiful Litchfield Hills, and by its proximity to the Steep Rock Association’s 2,700 acres, which include 40 miles of trails across three unique preserves.

Frederick Gunn loved the outdoors and truly valued nature. For him, the woods offered a kind of soulful nourishment. He shared that experience with his students, leading them on vigorous hikes into the woods. It was here that his students learned the important lesson that it’s good to do hard things. Discomfort is not the end of the world. It is often a prerequisite to discovery.


Under the leadership of Outdoor Programs Director Daniel Fladager, Gunn Outdoors offers more opportunities for students to engage with the outdoors, develop leadership skills, and gain independence.

  • Backpacking through the White Mountains or the Adirondacks allows students to develop outdoor skills that will last a lifetime.

  • Evenings spent around a firepit on campus are opportunities for community building.

  • Building and maintaining trails on our South Street and Frisbee Road properties gives students a challenging opportunity to problem-solve and give back to the community.

  • Our proximity to Steep Rock Preserve, established in 1925 by Gunn alumnus Ehrick Rossiter, allows us to build on our connection to our founder and history.

  • Navigating the low ropes course at our South Street Fields offers lessons in leadership.

  • Taking a Nature Writing class helps students to gain knowledge of the woods and waters surrounding them.

Following the example of our founder, Frederick Gunn, we expect every student to grow as an outdoor leader. Mr. Gunn believed that education should not be bound by the walls of the classroom and knew that experiencing the outdoors contributes to the development of character. 

The mission of Gunn Outdoors is guided by three habits of mind that help students be successful in- and out-of-doors. 

  • Leadership of peers developed through self-confidence and practice.

  • Independence to make decisions and assess challenges on their own.  

  • Competence in their favorite outdoor activity through guided mentorship. 


Track Us on Our Next Adventure

The All-School Walk has been a feature of student life since Mr. Gunn’s legendary 40-mile hike to Milford on Long Island Sound in 1861. Today, the hike is celebrated around Mr. Gunn’s birthday, and covers an eight-mile route through the beautiful Steep Rock Preserve. 

Outdoors News

Joyce McFarland '20 painting in TPACC

Today marked the start of a new Co-Curricular Program for the Winter Term. Students are required to attend two, half-hour sessions each week with options that range from sports psychology, outdoor recreation and a Mind & Body Fitness Challenge to music, photography, Model United Nations (MUN), engineering and more.

Live Like Fred Community Weekend_Sunset at Beebe Boathouse

The second Community Weekend of the school year offered students the opportunity to participate in a range of outdoor activities based on the theme, “Live Like Fred.” From a star lecture on the Quad, led by science teacher Steve Bailey P’09, and fire pits on the Glade to night hikes at the Steep Rock and Macricostas preserves, water activities at Beebe Boathouse, low ropes and camping at South Street Fields, students were able to spend time together outside in the spirit of founder Frederick Gunn.