In this section

In this section

In this section

Your Cart

Your cart is empty!
Students holding up hula hoop with two fingers.

Intrepid Academy at Hale

Program Type
Schools and Colleges
Age Group
High School
Jump To:

Beyond the Walls of Traditional Classrooms

Using our unique outdoor campus as a classroom, Intrepid Academy at Hale’s challenging, active, and personalized educational experience prepares high school students for academic success, nurtures body and mind, and inspires a passion for learning.

Focus Areas

Intrepid teachers and guides create innovative academic and social learning experiences based on three focus areas.

IAH students exude a sense of confidence and belonging in the outdoors, and appreciate the awe of connecting with nature. They gain transferable skills for their careers through learning and practicing outdoor leadership.

Student reads map to navigate trails

IAH students develop relationships with themselves, their communities, and nature, and explore mental and physical wellness through immersive outdoor experiences.

Group of high school students hiking through woods

IAH students build and lead intentional and just communities with knowledge gained through supportive and challenging physical, academic, and community-building experiences.

High school students work together on a teambuilding challenge

Curriculum & Outcomes

Launched in 2018, Intrepid Academy at Hale (IAH) develops powerful long-term learning opportunities for students. Rooted in nature, joy, and community, IAH breaks down historic and systemic barriers to outdoor spaces and leadership through liberatory experiential outdoor learning. Intrepid students build skills and relationships to thrive academically, personally, and professionally and to lead toward futures of justice, wellness, and interdependence. Participants:

  • Exude a sense of confidence and belonging in the outdoors, and appreciate the awe of connecting with nature.
  • Understand how to lead groups through outdoor experiences and have transferable skills for their careers, which may include nature-based occupations.
  • Can build and lead intentional and just communities with knowledge gained through supportive and challenging physical, academic, and community-building experiences.
  • Know what it means to be mentally and physically well, and can articulate how moving one’s body in a natural environment enhances wellness.
  • Have firsthand experience in building relationships with themselves, their communities, and nature.

IAH nurtures body and mind, inspires passion and curiosity, and teaches skills that translate to success in academia and life. Students explore their own identities and goals and build community using an Afrikanized and Indigenized framework to explore their own past, present, and future.

I think many students left Intrepid with a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. After returning to the school, students appeared to be more sure of themselves and their direction in life.

We’re able to have freedom we wouldn’t have in the school building. Here we have the right gear to go outside, play games, hang out, make connections.

Partner Schools

Current Partners

Intrepid Academy at Hale currently partners with schools in the Boston Public Schools district:

Boston Day and Evening Academy, Roxbury

Margarita Muñiz Academy, Jamaica Plain

Prospective Partners

We welcome inquiries from other schools and districts that may be interested in partnering with IAH. If you would like to discuss partnership, please contact the program’s director, Erica Pernell, at

How IAH Works


Through a series of in-depth meetings, IAH staff members collaborate with school leaders, faculty members, and students to establish objectives that meet schools’ goals and align with IAH’s mission and vision. Teachers, school leaders, and IAH staff members co-design the Intrepid experience.


Once the program begins, teachers and IAH Outdoor Guides work side-by-side to teach reimagined academic classes that are experiential, student-centered, rigorous, purposeful, and liberatory. Intrepid classes fully engage students in their learning and meet all state standards. Intrepid is currently tuition-free for students.

Student FAQs

Transportation is provided either from the sending school or from a local MBTA station.

Schedules are developed in collaboration with partner schools, so the answer to this question varies!

Breakfast bars, afternoon snacks, and a hot lunch are provided daily. On cold days, we serve hot chocolate.

Yes. IAH is very different from traditional school in many ways, but it is still school, and there is assigned homework.

Yes. IAH tailors activities to participants. Everyone is active at whatever level is most appropriate to their physical condition.

No. IAH provides technical outdoor gear and apparel including winter coats, fleece jackets, rain jackets and pants, boots, hats, gloves, and wool socks.

By creating opportunities for physical movement and access to healing spaces, IAH allows students to explore what it means to be well, and to identify practices that lead to a sense of personal and community wellness. Wellness is critical to academic achievement and community engagement, yet many educational institutions—especially public high schools—do not focus on it. At IAH, students report feeling calm, happy, hopeful, strong, and inspired. When we focus on wellness and learn social and emotional skills, we can achieve and exceed our own expectations.

Nature is the perfect setting for experiential learning. Learning outdoors engages all five senses and creates an ideal canvas for the application of real-world skills like navigation, field studies, student-centered project-based learning, and place-based exploration. Group experiences in the outdoors build social skills in authentic ways, allowing students to develop and practice leadership. IAH students gain real-world experience and receive information about nature-based careers, and many join a growing number of BIPOC individuals pursuing environmental careers.

Learn More

IAH calls Hale’s 1,000+ acres home. The site provides ample space that meets the academic, social, emotional, and health needs of the school’s students. It also blurs the line between traditional and outdoor classrooms as students spend significant time exploring the natural world every day.

The faculty and staff consist of:

  • Core academic teachers from sending schools
  • Program administrators, outdoor guides, and adjunct subject specialists from Hale

Erica Pernell is Intrepid Academy at Hale’s director, and Heron Russell and Bola Origunwa are its outdoor guides.

A talented and committed group of educators and professionals volunteered to design IAH. They met many times over several years and provided guidance and direction regarding the school’s concept. Members included Jennifer Antonucci (Co-founder, AthenaK12 Educational Consulting), Spencer Blasdale (Chief Program Officer, The Calculus Project, Inc.), Bill Chamberlin (Retired Business Manager, Noble and Greenough School), Alexandra Oliver Dávila (Executive Director, Sociedad Latina, Boston School Committee Member), Phil Jackson (Director of Teen Initiatives, Boston After School & Beyond), Emily Parks (Superintendent, Westwood Public Schools), Joe McConaughy (former record holder of the fastest unsupported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail).

Design team members are now occasionally called on to act in an advisory role and provide guidance.

If you have general questions, please reach out to Erica Pernell, Director of Intrepid Academy at Hale.

Support and Sponsorship

Corporate & Foundation Support

Arcadia Charitable Trust
Barr Foundation
Boston After School & Beyond
Highland Street Foundation
Hunt Street Fund
Barney Katzman Foundation
Massachusetts Charitable Society
Mass Networks Education Partnership
Needham Bank