Winterim, the six class days before spring vacation each year, is a time set aside in the OES Upper School for experiential pursuits. Faculty and students plan a broad variety of courses that provide opportunities for students to explore new skills, places, cultures, and ideas in a focused, experiential manner. Participation in Winterim each year is a requirement for all students. It provides an opportunity for students and teachers to work together and learn in new situations, and builds community within the school. Winterim also generates some of the best memories of the school year!
NOTE: Courses marked with a 🖐 indicate that the course involves a service component.
Applications to participate in an international course for Winterim 2020 are due by 9 a.m. October 9, 2019.
The full Winterim catalog for 2020, with many options for domestic trips and local courses, will be released December 6, 2019.
We announce international trip options in June, almost a year in advance, so that families can budget for them and students can have time to earn money to help pay for their trip. Generally, these trips extend into spring vacation. Please take note of the dates for each trip. Students who wish to participate in one of these courses must indicate their commitment by submitting an International Winterim Course Application and the parent approval form (sent automatically when a student submits an application) no later than October 9, 2019 by 9 a.m.
Domestic and local course options, which comprise the great majority of the Winterim offerings, are posted in mid-November. These courses are less expensive, generally ranging from no cost to several hundred dollars. The full Winterim catalog offers students a broad range of options, from active endeavors to artistic exploration, and from on-campus courses to trips to other parts of the United States. Courses marked with a hand symbol ( ) indicate that the course involves some service. Students not participating in an international course register for their course choices online and have a parent send signed approval of their course selection, via the electronically generated form.
- Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro 🖐
- Ecotourism in Costa Rica 🖐
- Morocco: Evolving Roles of Youth in Urban and Rural Culture 🖐
- Omaha Beach to Dachau
- Vietnam: Then and Now 🖐
On this trip we will visit 3 different countries (Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro) to explore the multi-ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of this complex and beautiful region of the world. A key element of this trip is a learning exchange with a Jesuit high school in Dubrovnik. Students will delve into some big questions (about U.S. and Croatia) around topics such as: roots of ethnic tensions, peace initiatives, etc.
Leaders: Carmen Boyle, Maria McIvor, and Luca P. ‘20 (Student leader)
Dates: March 11–March 21, 2020
Enrollment: 12 Students
Service Learning: Yes - Project
Prerequisites: Students on this trip will have to commit to reading one book and communicating (via Skype) with peer group from Jesuit School in Dubrovnik before leaving.
This Winterim offers the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s environment and culture with a focus on the impact of ecotourism on small villages and more developed towns. After flying into Costa Rica’s vibrant capital, San José, we’ll meet up with our Rustic Pathways hosts and drive to the area of Sarapiquí, where we will begin our trip with four days of service work in the community of San Ramón de la Virgen de Sarapiquí. A small agricultural village located in the mountains and rainforests of Costa Rica, next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park, San Ramón is currently developing its ecotourism business, which we will be able to learn about from the locals. We will spend these days working, cooking, playing games, and eating with the people of San Ramón. One morning we will run a day camp for the local primary school students which will include arts and crafts, outdoor sports, and English practice.
After our four days of service, we will enjoy some of the adventure activities that are at the heart of Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry. We’ll have a chance to zipline through forests, rappel down waterfalls, and raft down the Sarapiquí River. Throughout these adventures we will have the opportunity to take in Costa Rica’s lush rainforest climate and spot some of its wildlife—Costa Rica is known for its extreme biodiversity and a quarter of its land is protected.
We will spend our last day in the Caribbean beach town of Cahuita before returning to San José for our flight home.
This trip will be arranged through Rustic Pathways. The full itinerary can be viewed here.
Leaders: Isabelle T. ‘20 , Zoe S. ‘20 (Student leaders), Ryan Holland, Erin Romano, and two Rustic Pathways Program Leaders
Dates: March 12–March 20, 2020
Enrollment: 12 students
Join us for a unique opportunity to explore urban and rural communities in Morocco. With the help of ImprintEd Abroad we will be guided throughout the trip by Moroccan peers and families who will help us get to know the country and its people. We’ll meet with high school groups in Rabat and Marrakesh and learn how they see gender roles and culture shifting (and not changing) in 21st century Morocco. We’ll spend 4 nights living with host families (2-4 Oesians per family) in a small village in the Atlas Mountains, where we’ll hike to nearby villages, work alongside host family members, play soccer with students, and learn, through facilitated and translated conversations, about issues that concern young people in the village such as access to education, early marriage, and changes to traditional ways of life. And we’ll also spend time in Essouaria, a culturally complex and beautiful town on the Atlantic coast where we’ll play games and do crafts with young children who attend a center for at-risk youth, learn about the culturally and economically important production of argan oil from the women who process it, and, yes, ride camels on the beach!
This is a great trip for anyone who is interested in Islam, the effects of modern life on rural communities, the shifting roles of women and youth in a traditional culture, and anyone who is game for a fabulous adventure. There is no language requirement, but French and Arabic speakers will have the opportunity to use their skills. If you’ve always wanted to explore the narrow, winding alleys of a souk (traditional market), see snake charmers or try camel meat, and you’re game for an experience that will take you far from your everyday life in Portland, Oregon, please join us!
Leaders: Julia P. ‘21 (Student leader), Autumn Apperson, Katrina Perry and ImprintEd Abroad
Dates: March 11 or 12- March 23 or 24
Enrollment: 12 students
WWII was the largest, most destructive conflict in modern history. America's effort to stay out of it ended with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Less than 3 years later, on D-Day, American soldiers stormed the Atlantic Fortress Wall along with many other ally nations in order to crush Hitler and the Nazi regime. This trip will bring that momentous struggle to life.
We will start in Normandy, visiting iconic sites where American and British soldiers took the fight to French soil, and reflect on their sacrifice at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. From there we will follow General Patton's breakout, and the heroic fight for Hill 314 in Mortain, Brittany where the German counterattack was stopped cold by a few brave men. We'll go on to Paris and learn about Occupation, Resistance, Collaboration, spies and the betrayal of France's Jewish population by the Vichy government. After Paris, we will go to Bastogne, Belgium and relive the largest American battle of the War, the Battle of the Bulge.
We will end, not with fighting, but with remembrance and reflection. In Munich we’ll learn how the Nazis came to power, and we’ll visit the Dachau Concentration Camp and consider the normalization of evil. We will finish with a day trip to the Nuremberg courtroom where Nazi leaders were brought to justice.
Leaders: Tna Meyerhoff and Ron Silver
Dates: March 12-24, 2020
Enrollment: 10-14 students
Cost: $3500-$3700, depending on airfare
Language requirement:No requirement, but French and German speakers will have opportunities to utilize their skills.
Prerequisites: 2 weekend or evening meetings prior to departure
On this trip, we will explore Vietnamese history and culture. Our main focus will be on the war history of Vietnam starting from 4000 years ago up through the Vietnam-American War and the post war period, and the effects of colonization of China, France, and the US on the country through visiting five cities: Hanoi, Dong Hoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City.
Students will have an opportunity to explore both South and North Vietnam, the two sides of the Vietnam war, and learn of the two perspectives. Moreover, participants will have peer interactions with other Vietnamese students and adults, which will provide a more thorough insight into this war and Vietnam’s recovery. We will visit the Hanoi Dioxin Treatment Center, where we will interact with children and adults who have been directly affected by napalm bombs and agent orange. We will also spend time immersed in the culture of Vietnam by visiting museums, exploring Vietnam’s culinary scene, and taking in a variety of historical and contemporary sights.
Leaders: Alexis D. ‘21, Vy N. ’21 (Student leaders), Kara Tambellini, and Lindsey Zanchettin
Dates: March 12-22, 2020
Enrollment: 8-12 students
Cost: Maximum $3600-$3800, depending on airfare
- Portland Stories
- Lower School Interns 🖐
- Building Community on the Margins 🖐
- Drones, The Universe, and Everything . . .
- Spiritual Practices of the People of Oregon
- Facing Your Fears: Writing and Illustrating Horror Short Stories 🖐
- Multicultural Cook Off 🖐
- Play in a Week: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
- Helping Hands: Food Insecurity 🖐
- Going Vintage
- OES at 150: Documentary in a Week 🖐
- Your Mission If You Choose To Accept It . . .
Have you ever wondered what makes Portland...Portland? Our food scene, sports teams, music venues, movie theaters, parks, neighborhoods? Explore these places and the people we encounter in them through conversation, stories, and photographs! Much like Humans of New York or Tell Me Who You Are, we will meet people in our community, connect through the stories they share, and document these experiences through photographs and writing. Through brainstorming, we will select different places that could tell us more about the culture of Portland and then travel to them to talk to people in those places. Also, using Tell Me Who You Are as a learning guide, we will explore our own identities and how they shape our experiences in the world and our interactions with other people. See where stories and photographs lead us as we deepen our understanding of ourselves, our community, and the things that connect us.
Leaders: Nathalie Michiels and Meghan Powers
Enrollment: 12 maximum
Have you always dreamed of going back to your 1st grade classroom? Thinking about being a teacher someday? Here is your opportunity to explore those dreams and return to the Lower School for the Lower School Internship program. You will be spending time with our young OESians, helping them out in the classroom or other activities, such as P.E., science or art. You will be able to choose the age group and specialty. These children will know and love you forever!
Leader: Gowri Meda
Can you imagine a world where the soundtrack to your life was played on the Nintendo Game Boy? Do you like composing and recording music? Are you interested in learning how to program a microcontroller? Have you ever thought about using the acoustic properties of wood to amplify sound? In this winterim, driven by student interest, we will explore how elements of electrical engineering, music theory, and design building can be used to create music from soundboards. Possible projects include composing 8-bit music using the Nintendo Game Boy, programming a microcontroller to make sounds (maybe even building a MIDI keyboard), and designing and building an acoustic sound box to amplify sounds. The finale to this winterim will involve recording or performing the music we create. Possible activities include inviting guest speakers to talk about electrical engineering and visiting electronics and musical instrument stores.
Leaders: Greg Drugan
Cost: Free +
What does it mean to truly belong in a community? How do we ensure those on the margins are cared for physically, socially, and emotionally? This winterim will explore how our city of Portland tries to include those who are marginalized. We will visit with leaders to learn about issues facing different communities and perform acts of service. Our exploration will focus on organizations that work to include those who society often casts aside: the houseless, the disabled, LGBTQ+ communities, and those who have experienced trauma. We will examine the multifaceted ways in which people need support to truly flourish in our world, from housing to job training to yoga and more. Possible volunteer locations include: Habitat for Humanity, the Portland L’Arche Community, Blanchet House & Farm, p:ear, and more. This Winterim qualifies for off-campus Service Hours or a Service Project (with a reflection).
Leader: Katie Seltzer & TBA
An exploration of small scale flying machines (multi-rotor, fixed wing, etc.), electrical engineering, small scale aeronautical engineering, electric-powered flight, basic robotics and maker practices, 3D printing and laser cutting, and general tinkering with motors/servos/microcontrollers/transmitters/FPV (first person view) systems. Students will connect with local schools to share their learning.
Leaders: Hudson H. '21, Zack W. '22, and Cameron Jack
The story of immigrants to the west includes the story of diverse cultures and religious practices. Understanding the political choices people will make in 2020 requires an understanding of their values. We will visit a variety of places to learn about Native American, Hindu, Jewish, Protestant, Buddhist, and Muslim spiritual practices and culture, especially their food. Join us on this never-ending journey.
Leaders: V.J. Sathyaraj and Rebecca Williams
Cost: Free +
Come join us for a very fun Winterim week. We will learn all about cool, kinetic sculptures, from Matt Richards, guest artist, from Ekko Mobiles. We will rmake our own kinetic projects and will be part of the design team that designs, makes, and builds a permanent, kinetic art sculpture installation in the Drinkward Center. We will explore OES history, learn about the exciting world of kinetic sculpture in the industrial and commercial world, and explore the fantastical, design ideas of movement and balance in art!
Leaders: Sue Jensen, Tanja Horvat, and Matt Richards
"Pioneers used to entertain themselves by telling scary stories." (Alvin Schwarz, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark). "... and caroling out in the snow/They'll be scary ghost stories/and tales of the glories/of Christmases long long ago" ("Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams). Horror is in our bones. There is something about a good scare that unites us, even those of us who claim they don't like horror and can't watch it have been subject to the scary stories that teach us how to live. Now YOU are in control of the story! Partner up with Lower School kids and turn what they find scary into a short story, an illustration, a song, or any other piece of art. Work together to create different levels of scary (mild, medium, and I CAN'T SLEEP). Unite once again around the darkness as we explore the horror within and without.
Leaders: Gabriel Edge
Enrollment: Minimum scarers 6. Maximum scarers 15.
Do you like food? Are you curious to learn the secrets to creating delicious dishes from around the world? Come celebrate the many facets of the OES community through food! We’ll learn from OES community members how to cook authentic home-made food from their countries of origin. We’ll learn a different cuisine each day and at the end of the week we’ll celebrate our learning and our community by creating a feast for those who taught us earlier in the week along the custodial and maintenance folks who work behind the scenes to make our school tick. Students are offered up to 8 on-campus service-learning hours for this Winterim.
Leaders: Eduard Cecere and Chiman Chen
In one week, we will produce a theatrical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be presented on the final day of Winterim to whatever audience shows up. Students will be actors, costumers, prop collectors and builders, musicians, technicians, and set constructors. No prior Python knowledge required! If you have no horse, bring a coconut.
Leaders: Art Ward and Debby Schauffler
Join us in spending six days of service in the community learning about the impact of food insecurity in the Portland - Metro area. We will work with local organizations such as Growing Gardens, The Oregon Food Bank, Blanchet House, and Meals on Wheels. We will also have the flexibility for students to take a leading role in planning our activities. Participants will earn 20-30 or so hours of off-campus credit, or can get a good start on a long-term SL Project. Plus, you'll reap the great rewards of doing something to help others, and learn a lot in the process. Daily reflection time, posting to a group blog, and planning for future service are all part of the schedule. And, it will be fun!
Leaders: Austin Pritchard and Peter Langley
This is a course for those who like to wear vintage clothing or want to explore the creative fashion possibilities of older or second-hand clothing. We will meet people who have great vintage collections, visit some vintage clothing shops, and hunt for fashion treasures at second-hand stores. The majority of the course will be focused on learning and applying valuable skills for rescuing and altering vintage clothing to make it more wearable, including basic mending and stitching skills, low-sew alteration strategies, and stain removal techniques. This class is also a good option for someone who already has sewing skills and would like time to work on creating costumes or new outfits by altering or combining parts of second-hand clothing (a patchwork skirt? A purse made from old jeans and ties?). Our goal is for each student to walk away from Winterim in a completely reconditioned outfit created with their own mind and hands.
Leader: Julie Sikkink and TBA
Join us as we work with Alums and school employees to conceive and produce documentary video to help celebrate and commemorate the Sesquicentennial. Be part of a creative team. Practice the following skills: researching in archives, interviewing, script writing, story-boarding, digital video-, sound-, and photo-editing. Earn service hours and/or develop a service learning project. The story of OES now spans 150 years - we have access to thousands of pictures, letters, documents, and records, and there are countless stories waiting to be rediscovered and shared with the larger community
Leaders: John Holloran
The OES Discovery program is a five-day, 40-hour apprenticeship or career exploration open to OES 10th, 11th, 12th graders. Discovery is a guided process through which the student creates his/her own program to pursue special passions and interests. Discovery gives students a chance to experience the demands and structure of the “working world.” Students who are interested in participating in Discovery this year already have pre-enrolled in the course.
**Service project possible**
Leader: Dana Mosher Lewis
Enrollment: No limit
Cost: Personal Expenses
Have you always wondered if you have what it takes to join IMF (Impossible Mission Force)? Do you dream of high stakes heists in international cities? Can you outrun Tom Cruise on a tarmac and jump onto a moving plane? Join us on our, well, not-so-secret mission to hone our IMF agent skills. Some of our experiences during this Winterim boot camp will include: sharpening our shooting skills with paintball, old-school weapons training with axe throwing, testing your get-away car driving skills with go-karting, preparing for aerial descents into hostile territory with indoor skydiving, testing your physical fitness on indoor obstacle courses, proving your logic and reasoning in escape rooms, and letting out that pent up aggression against evil villains in demolition rooms. You and your parents will have to sign dozens of waivers, including a non-disclosure agreement with British intelligence, and risk disavowal from the US government, but it will be worth the paperwork.
Through this course you will take safe, but challenging risks, hone your problem solving skills, collaborate and work in teams, and have to think on your feet. It will introduce you to exciting activities that will challenge you physically, mentally, socially, and perhaps even emotionally.
Leader: Sarah Grenert-Funk and Asha Appel
- Midnight Train to Montana
- Florida Keys: Ocean Ecology 🖐
- Utah Backpacking
- Wolves of Yellowstone
- Outdoor School Counselor 🖐
- Wallowas Backcountry Ski Adventure
- Aardvark Death Valley Ride
This train and ski excursion is designed to provide a variety of winter activities in the Whitefish Ski Area of Montana, a mountain with 360 degrees of diverse ski trails. Transportation will be provided by Amtrak and resort shuttles; the rental house is on the slopes of the ski resort, so students will ski in/out each day from the porch. This trip is for students new to skiing/boarding or those who don’t have the opportunity to hit the slopes very often—and will provide students with an immersion opportunity to learn, improve, and enhance their skiing or snowboarding skills during five days of active mountain time. Students will also plan, organize, and shop for meals as well as plan evening activities for the group.
Leaders: Coleen Davis and Rob Orr
Dates: March 12-19, 2020
Enrollment: 12 students who are not on a ski/snowboard or freestyle team.
Cost: $1100 + equipment rental if needed.
Come with us to the southern tip of Florida, the “Keys,” a string of islands offering unique access to coral reefs and the ecosystems surrounding them. We’ll team up with an experiential program based in Key Largo, learning about the Keys’ habitats through field investigations—the seagrasses, mangroves, and coral reefs we can reach on land, by boat, or by snorkeling. From Key Largo we’ll travel out to Key West and later Marathon, where our focus will be on groups that help turtles and dolphins, and then venture into Everglades National Park, where the mainland and the ocean meet. Throughout, we will learn about the delicate ecology of the region and the very real stresses being felt here—from ocean pollution to rising seas and intensifying storms due to climate change—as well as efforts to preserve and protect the natural world. You won’t look at the ocean—or our connection to it—in quite the same way again. (Note: participants should be good swimmers.)
Leaders: Ethan B. '20, Rick Rees, and Katie Stenstrom
Dates: March 12-19, 2020
This year there will be 2 trips offered to this incredible area…
Get ready to explore! Hike and camp the canyon country of southern Utah, in the heart of the of the Redrock Wilderness of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. We’ll fly into Las Vegas and then drive to the town of Escalante to begin a backpack trip of 5 days, through deep canyons with perennial streams and spectacular campsites. We’ll hike up and out to the high plateaus between the canyons, walking on peerless stretches of sandstone “slickrock”—a unique experience that gives tremendous views back into the depths.
You’ll have chances to develop your navigational skills, learn to camp in the desert and interact with a new landscape and all it offers. Sunrise on the canyon rim, coyote howls at dusk, groves of towering cottonwood trees, the song of the canyon wren, the broad and pure starry night sky—all are parts of this trip through rugged and beautiful terrain.
Experience the wonder!
Leaders: Doug Ironside, Jenny Cleveland, Peter Kimball, and TBA
Dates: March 12-19, 2020
We will be venturing into the rugged winter wilderness of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park established in the United States. Experienced guides will help us explore the interconnected winter ecosystem, with a focus on the famous wolves of Yellowstone. We will snowshoe through wolf territory, learn how to track and spot them with scopes and binoculars, and document what we observe. We will examine how wolves have been viewed historically, challenges to their conservation, and their importance as keystone species.
Leaders: Erika Jelinek and Bettina Gregg
Dates: March 12-19, 2020
Being a Washington County Outdoor School Counselor is one of the most fun, inspiring and rewarding experiences you can ever have! As a counselor, you will learn valuable leadership and teaching skills. You’ll learn how to lead interactive, hands-on outdoor activities with small groups of sixth-graders that are simple and fun. You’ll also get to work with many great students from other high schools, some of whom could become lifelong friends. As an Outdoor School counselor you’ll gain valuable volunteer experience that looks great on college and job applications. You can earn transferable college credit, and complete one of your OES service learning projects too! And, most of all, you will change the lives of elementary school students, often in ways that you'll never know.
Leaders: Washington County Outdoor School Staff
Dates: March 15-20, 2020 (**NOTE: Participants work through the end of the day on Friday, March 20**)
One of the best ways to enjoy winter and find solitude and fun in the Pacific Northwest is to go backcountry skiing or snowboarding. This course is designed to give you a taste of backcountry life and start a possibly lifelong pursuit of backcountry skiing and/or snowboarding. This course is recommended for students who are already competent skiers or snowboarders. The first day of Winterim will be spent on campus learning about the backcountry ski trip location in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, preparing all the food and gear needed for this trip, checking for proper clothing and learning about how we manage the risks associated with backcountry skiing and snowboarding. The second day, Friday, we will pick up the rented (if you don’t already own your own) skis or snowboard, boots, climbing skins, probes, beacons and shovels and head up to Mt. Hood to try the gear out on the slopes next to one of the ski resorts (tbd). On Saturday we will drive a full day out to Joseph, Oregon which is situated at the base of the Wallowa Mountains in the far northeast corner of our state.
We will spend Saturday night in Joseph. The next morning we will drive to our trailhead and ski approximately 4.5 miles into our own private hut system with a full kitchen yurt, two wall tents with stoves and beds, and a dry sauna. You’ll get to experience the awesome splendor of the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon during the winter without having to carry a huge backpack, since these huts are outfitted with bedding and stoves. We will spend three nights at these same huts and travel out each day to explore and find slopes that are suitable to ride. On Wednesday morning we’ll leave the splendor of the wilderness and ski back to our vehicles and return to Joseph for one final night together. On Thursday 3/19 we’ll travel back to OES and return by late afternoon. This trip includes instructors, food, avalanche equipment rental, all lodging (including backcountry huts), meals, and transportation. It does not include backcountry skis or split board rental (however we have a discounted deal at The Mountain Shop).
Leaders: Tom Handel, Matt Bedrin, and TBA
Dates: March 14-19, 2020
Cost: $950 + backcountry skis/board rental if you need it.
Travel with us to Northern Minnesota to enjoy an experience unlike any other. We will spend four days on the lakes and trails of the Boundary Waters, driving two-person sleds with a team of four to five Inuit dogs each. Experienced guides will provide hands-on training on the first day, and then you will handle your own team of dogs, including feeding and harnessing them every morning. We will stay in lakeside lodges each night (with an option to camp outside one night!). There will be a chance to try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and a Finnish sauna. We will also pay a visit to the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, to observe and learn about the native timber wolves. Get ready for an amazing experience, and prepare to fall in love with dogsledding!
Leaders:Liz Weiler and Lauren Shareshian
Dates: March 13-18, 2020
Don't let the name scare you! This is a beautiful national park known for stunning landscapes, over 1000 species of plants and the lowest point on the continent. Temperatures during the day will average 82 and at night it will be 55 degrees fahrenheit. We will spend 5 days and 4 nights exploring Death Valley National Park by road bike and by foot. This is an introductory cycling tour that includes an easy pace, but will require some training. We are partnering with Escape Adventures who will be following us with a van for support and setting up our camp nightly, including cooking for us.
You will have physically active days that will require you to engage with the environment of Death Valley National Park. By camping each night, and being “off the grid” you will experience clear, starry nights while escaping the rain of Portland. We hope to inspire you to develop a lifelong practical skill of riding a bicycle and knowing how to repair or maintain it. On this Winterim you will have adventures and leave your comfort zone in ways that only new experiences and travel can elicit.
Leaders: Stephanie Portman, Matt Pigg, and Escape Adventures
Dates: March 15-19, 2020