Mr. Gunn believed that students learn better when they have spent time outdoors. At Gunn we continue to embrace his vision and promote the outdoors to our community.  Students can develop their leadership, collaboration and problem solving skills among many others through a variety of off campus weekend adventures. These include multi day hiking expeditions, White Water rafting, Rock Climbing, Snowshoe expeditions and many more!

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.


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. 


Outdoors News

2023 School Walk Students at Steep Rock Summit

October 5 turned out to be a beautiful day for our community to enjoy one of Gunn’s most beloved traditions: School Walk. Buoyed by school spirit and a shared sense of Frederick Gunn’s love of the outdoors, students, faculty, and friends navigated a new, nearly nine-mile route through Steep Rock Preserve. They traveled through the historic railroad tunnel, across the bridge over the Shepaug River, and up to Steep Rock Summit, where they enjoyed a brief respite and the incredible view of the Clamshell and Shepaug River Valley below.

Peter Becker with students, School Walk 2022

This year, alumni and current parents were invited to help the School celebrate the beloved tradition of School Walk on October 6, by spending time outdoors, wearing their Gunn gear, and liking, tagging, and sharing photos of walks past and present via social media.

2021 School Walk Continues Tradition, Celebrating Mr. Gunn and his Love of Nature

On October 7, faculty and students gathered on the Koven-Jones Glade for the All-School Walk, a beloved Frederick Gunn School tradition, begun by Mr. Gunn in 1861. The weather for this year’s walk was sunny and warm, with a slight, intermittent breeze that sent the first yellow leaves fluttering from their branches. The Shepaug River was running fairly high and during quieter moments, one could hear the sound of the water rushing along. It was, in the words of Dan Fladager, Director of Outdoor Programs, “a beautiful day to gather as a school and celebrate our founder’s birthday and the beautiful area we call home by walking together in fellowship and community.”

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.