World Class Climbing Academy | About


Core Values

Over 17 years of providing a unique educational experience for our students, World Class Academy has refined our experiential and individual approach to education. The school has crafted Core Values we believe in by compiling feedback from students, alumni, faculty, board members, and supporters.

World Class Academy is first and foremost an academic institution with a goal of instilling in our students a lifelong passion for learning, creative problem solving, and critical thinking. World Class believes that it should provide an education extending far beyond the normal high school curriculum, by teaching motivated students in challenging and stimulating environments. A WCA education prepares its students for college and a wealth of experiences over the course of their lifetime. WCA’s small class sizes allow us to adapt the learning environment to respond both to students’ needs and to the unique aspects of the places where we travel. Connecting education and experience allows students to obtain fundamental academic skills taught in traditional institutions, and to reinforces these skills through practice in a variety of contexts. Our teachers facilitate rigorous, individualized education, which emphasizes active student participation in the learning process.

One of the main goals of WCA is to enrich young lives by providing learning experiences that help students develop in character, as well as academically and athletically. The relationships students develop as they navigate unfamiliar environments and push past their own social, athletic, and intellectual limits provide support for their growth. With their mentors, students are encouraged to reflect regularly on their growth as athletes, students, and human beings. With their mentor group, students collaborate to provide meals for their peers, maintain living areas, and provide general support to each other.

Mentoring and the development of life skills happen on many levels at WCA. Through these processes, students develop an understanding of themselves, their place in the community, and their capacity to continue growing and learning.

World Class views safety as an integral component to the success of its programs. Climbing is a unique sport because of the inherent dangers associated with the unpredictability of mother nature. We rigorously prepare our students and staff to proactively address the hazards unique to climbing, giving them the instruction necessary for quick and efficient response to emergency situations. Staff are required to meet industry-standard safety protocols, with strong emphasis on ongoing training in safety and risk management. WCA itself is a family as well as a fixture in the community; therefore the protection of its loved ones instills a sense of mutual responsibility among administration, staff, students, and families.

World Class has adopted a team approach to athletic training in climbing, a sport that is perceived as an individual endeavor. WCA believes that through commitment to a team, students grow athletically and gain insights that extend beyond the sport itself. Team development is strategic,  beginning with assembling a group of instructors and students who are passionate about their sport and about life. Being part of a team that is centered around a dynamic and challenging sport helps students understand the value of working together and of making sacrifices that serve the community as a whole. Though the group process is sometimes demanding, a tightly knit & supportive group develops while students and staff travel, train, learn and live with one another.

WCA’s primary mission is to provide highly skilled young people with the opportunity to train intensively, while at the same time receiving a quality high school education. WCA believes that rock climbers are athletes, and seeks to provide its athletes with a rare opportunity: to dedicate themselves to the sport about which they are passionate, and develop their skills to the best of their abilities. A primary reason why both faculty and students are attracted to WCA is because participants have the opportunity to test their limits through healthy competition in which sportsmanship is emphasized as a way to increase cooperation and facilitate team building.  Athletic training provides students with practice in life skills--such as dedication, patience, failing forward, self-reflection, overcoming obstacles--that apply to other parts of life.

WCA strives to provide the most demanding training opportunities that the students can safely handle, although it also is important that individual skill levels be adapted to the overall abilities and desires of the group.  World Class is committed to training its students in a safe and supportive manner, and instilling in them values that will translate into responsible climbing once they have left the program.

Students returning from a WCA semester often feel that the experience has had a powerful, positive effect on their lives. This feeling is not only related to climbing, but also to the other demanding aspects of the program, such as stress induced by new cultural & social experiences, the difficulties of travel in a foreign country, and harsh environmental conditions. Because students change their surroundings frequently, and often confront new and difficult situations – such as climbing in unfamiliar conditions, or struggling to communicate in a foreign language – they constantly are being challenged to operate outside of their comfort zones and adapt to novel, stressful situations. These situations, rather than detracting from the WCA experience, actually provide a wonderful opportunity for students to mature and become more responsible, caring, and confident global citizens. Through travel, WCA students build empathy, broaden their perspectives, and connect with the people and places of the world in authentic and meaningful ways.

Exposure to a broad range of people and cultures is fundamental to the World Class experience. The WCA community itself is diverse, with an international student body and faculty, which naturally supports a multi-dimensional school culture. Through travel to unfamiliar places, students also interact with people and communities whose experiences are significantly different from their own. WCA believes that providing opportunities for young people to interact with people from different cultures provides them with new and valuable perspectives that lead to a deeper, more compassionate view of the world.

Because the health and vibrancy of our interrelated communities is so important to us all, WCA seeks to provide its students with positive values related to community--such as empathy, leadership, collaboration, kindness, and stewardship--through direct experience and exposure to positive role models. WCA students and families become connected with broader climbing communities that extend to people and organizations around the world. Sharing a sense of common humanity, and the importance of right action and community service on local and global levels, students learn to maximize their positive impact on the places they visit, and to develop a sense of membership within the broader community.

World Class students and teachers seek to immerse themselves in the cultures of the places we visit, rather than simply living and traveling as tourists. A key component of this process is giving back to the local communities, rather than taking advantage of what each destination has to offer without reciprocating. This includes practicing “Leave-no-Trace” ethics; seeking positive interactions with local people; and traveling with the intention of contributing in meaningful ways to our host communities.

By having a positive impact on the social and ecological environment, WCA seeks to raise awareness for important issues and to demonstrate its commitment to community service and environmental stewardship. This philosophy of service creates a balance between aspects of the WCA program focused on the students’ own interests and supporting our destination communities. By doing so, we hope to demonstrate how it is possible to do something that one loves, while at the same time engaging in global civility.

Quality relationships are what holds WCA together at all levels of the experience. This includes relationships among students; between students, faculty, administration & parents; between students/staff and members of the communities we visit; and between members of our organization and the natural world. As we move through the world as WCA ambassadors, we acknowledge that respect and empathy are fundamental to all of our interactions. By engaging with empathy and respect for ourselves, each other, and our environment, we improve our shared experience, thus making our world more humane, equitable, and peaceful.


World Class Academy meets or exceeds the scholastic benchmarks that are in place for college preparatory high schools. Our courses are enriched with the unique experiences gained through traveling the world. Students graduating from World Class Academy have an advantage because their education is backed by real-life experiences, greater independence, and immersion in diverse cultures.

Students do not have to be world-class climbers when they enter the program. However, students should have a strong foundation of consistent 5.12/7a+ sport climbing and V5/6B+ bouldering at the start of the school year. At WCA we focus on a rigorous project-based schedule.  Students work on climbs for 3-6 weeks while building a strong base in order to work toward higher climbing goals. WCA accepts climbers who have a passion for progression and a desire to climb around the world. The school focuses on recruiting students who demonstrate the most potential to learn, and who are willing to be coached to in order to achieve their climbing goals.

Basic skills for acceptance to World Class include:

  • Proficient in leading climbing 5.12a/7a+, clipping, and lead falling.
  • Proficient at lead belaying with a Gri-Gri.
  • A basic foundation of reading routes and memorizing beta.
  • Comfortable with dealing with the elements while out climbing.

World Class Academy maintains a thorough application process to ensure a cohesive group atmosphere and positive peer interaction. Students need to be adequately prepared for the challenge of living on their own. World Class is not a program for students with behavioral issues.

Students attend World Class Academy for a minimum of one semester or a maximum of four years. The average attendance at the academy is one year, with many students attending for a single semester.

Semesters at WCKA cost $24,500 and our annual tuition rate is $45,750. Scholarships are available for all programs. If you would like to receive information on the current year's scholarship application process, please contact us.

WCA offers a variety of scholarships and aid to families with financial need and a clear dedication to WCA's mission. A family may apply for a scholarship at the same time they apply for acceptance to World Class Academy. For more information, contact us to discuss what level of support may be available.

The value of AP coursework is well recognized for academically motivated students and our faculty work to facilitate students on this track in two ways. World Class Academy offers AP courses in the mathematics and science departments. These courses are aimed at driven students who are self-motivated and inspired by a challenge. AP testing occurs in late May at the WCA office. For specific questions about coursework, AP classes, testing, counseling or to speak with the parent of a student who has successfully pursued AP coursework at WCKA in the past, please contact us.

Following acceptance to Summer Sessions (Apply Now) or the academy (contact us) a family may secure enrollment by submitting a deposit and returning signed copies of WCA's required paperwork, including a: financial commitment form, medical form, liability release, honor contract and transcript from the student's former school. 

One of the main goals of WCA is to reinforce integrity by providing learning experiences that help young people develop in character while they grow as a student and an athlete. The relationships students develop as they navigate unfamiliar environments and push past their own social, athletic, and intellectual limits provide support for their growth.

With their mentors, students are encouraged to reflect regularly on their growth as athletes, students, and human beings. With their mentor group, students collaborate to provide meals for their peers, maintain living areas, and provide general support to each other.

Mentoring and the development of life skills happen on many levels at WCA. Through these processes, students develop an understanding of themselves, their place in the community, and their capacity to continue growing and learning.

There are inherent risks in rock climbing.  World Class works hard to assure its students have the training and experience to safely explore our world’s rock walls. WCA maintains a strict 4:1 student to instructor ratio to ensure every outing on the rock is a safe one. We employ experienced staff that have proven skills in instructing, training, and climbing.  Athletes partner up on the rock in order to keep an eye on each other while out climbing.  Staff inspects each and every athlete's gear in order to maintain safety when the gear is being used. World Class also promotes an atmosphere where students are encouraged to assess and choose routes they are comfortable attempting before climbing.

World Class Academy has the highest reputation for hiring and retaining quality faculty members who adhere to the core values of our program. Our teachers are trained as educators, coaches, and mentors.  They cultivate a supportive team atmosphere and perform their jobs with integrity.

Many of the world class crags WCA travels to are challenging in nature. Most warm-up routes begin around the 5.11/6c grade or higher depending on the area. Having a strong base level of this grade is beneficial in order to enjoy many of the world-class crags around the globe. WCA focuses mainly on projecting routes, where students work routes for 3-6 weeks. This demands a lot from the body and athletes should be prepared to push themselves as they work toward achieving their climbing goals.

Parents can expect to communicate with their children via email or phone when available at least once a week during each semester. While traveling internationally, students use an international phone plan, a local SIM card, or wifi to stay in touch. Our faculty have phones with service in each of the destinations where we travel and are available to help families stay in touch.  

World Class Academy is always looking for qualified teachers with a passion for climbing and a desire to enrich the lives of WCA students. If this describes you, then please review our faculty page and send us a resume with a cover letter on why you believe you would make a good candidate for employment at World Class Academy.

World Class offers a unique educational environment that combines foreign immersion, academic and athletic challenge, and lifelong lessons. Our graduates are better prepared for the rigors of college life because we have given them the skills and confidence to succeed on their own. These experiences and skills set World Class students apart from other college applicants and help our students attend the colleges and universities of their choice. Our academics also provides students access to their teachers that is unmatched in traditional academic settings. The history and success of our graduates is a testament to the preparation and experience provided by World Class.

World Class is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whereby all donations are tax deductible and go directly to helping the program offer an amazing educational opportunity to a wider range of students. Donors have their option of ways to contribute and can choose to support a particular student, to enrich a cultural experience, or to support one of World Class’ philanthropic activities. For more information on how you can give to the program please visit the Donate section of our website.

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