Stories, Myths & Futures of the American Frontier

This writing workshop to the American West offers students the opportunity to engage with a region of the country that resists definition–what and where is the West? –and which has been foundational in defining American national identity and in inspiring the American Dream. Through our travels, we will interrogate, challenge, and revise the myths and tropes of the region. Using literature and literary study as our point of entry, students will write across forms (short story, creative nonfiction, poetry) as we enlarge our understanding of this vast and complex American landscape and the people who call it home.

We will begin in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an eclectic city home to a vibrant community of artists and artisans, from the modernist paintings of Georgia O’Keefe to Meow Wolf, an immersive, multimedia modern art installation. Next, we will travel north to Montana, where we will explore the natural wonders of Yellowstone–the first national park–and immerse ourselves (and get to work!) in local ranching communities to understand the opportunities and challenges facing this way of life. While in Montana, we will also connect with local tribal members to learn about the Native American history and culture of the region. Throughout the program, we will use writing as a mode of reflection, creative engagement, and resistance as we immerse ourselves in the lives and (hi)stories of the American West.  

Program Notes

  • This trip conflicts with the June 1 SAT and the June 8 ACT test dates.
  • This trip is partially unplugged. 
  • Families are responsible for transportation from the Bozeman, MT airport to the student’s destination for the remainder of the summer break.
  • During this trip students will stay in hotels and eat meals at the hotel and at local restaurants.

Program Dates

May 31 – June 14, 2024

Program Eligibilty

This program is open to all students with a preference towards students who have a demonstrated interest in American History and Literature. All interested students are encouraged to apply by November 5. Financial Aid is available to all qualifying students.

Faculty Trip Leaders

Alexandra Carter; Heidi Valk


Deerfield Academy’s Center for Service and Global Citizenship strives to make all of our travel programs affordable and accessible for all students while ensuring a high-quality global education experience. While the costs of travel around the world have been rising steadily over the past several years, all of our trips are subsidized, and thanks to the generosity of many we are able to provide robust financial aid for qualifying students.

2024 Preliminary Itinerary

* This itinerary is subject to change

May 31: Travel Day

  • Flight from JFK to Albuquerque

June 1: 

  • Morning introductory writing workshop
  • Visit Pecos National Historical Park
  • Afternoon free time & city exploration writing prompt

June 2: 

  • Visit to IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native American Arts
  • Afternoon free time & city exploration writing prompt / hiking writing prompt
  • Cooking class for dinner

June 3: 

  • Visit to Georgia O’Keefe museum
  • Afternoon free time & city exploration writing prompt
  • Glass Blowing class

June 4:

  • Visit Meow Wolf
  • Farmer’s Market visit
  • Afternoon free time & city exploration writing prompt / hiking writing prompt
  • Possible hoop dance class

June 5: Travel Day – Santa Fe to Yellowstone

June 6 – June 9: Yellowstone 

  • Throughout their time in Yellowstone, students will participate in hikes, explore historic sites within the park, and learn about the challenges facing the National Park Service’s “dual mandate” to protect natural resources while also providing for public use and recreation. 

June 9: Travel Day – Yellowstone to Bozeman, MT

June 9 – June 14: Bozeman – While in Bozeman students may participate in the following activities:

  • Meet with the Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal members to learn about the tribe’s history and cultural connections to this region.
  • Meet with local ranchers implementing sustainable ranching practices.
  • Participate in an overnight excursion to the Pioneer Mountains, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Jackson Hot Springs, or Bannack State Park and Ghost Town 
  • Stay at a working horse and cattle ranch, helping with the seasonal ranch work, herding cattle,  and taking care of the horses.

*Families are responsible for transportation from the Bozeman, MT airport to the student’s destination for the remainder of the summer break.