At first glance, our website might lead the casual observer to surmise that our organization, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), is just another run-of-the-mill for-profit business. The kind of outfit where the owners get rich by running adventure-based trips for children from well-to-do families to exotic destinations around the globe. Truth is, nothing could be further from the truth.
While we welcome anyone — regardless of their socioeconomic standing or means — to enroll in our courses, we take great pride in making all of those courses affordable and accessible to those without means. Oh, and we might add at this juncture that we’re a not-for-profit organization. Which means we rely just as much on individual and foundation giving as we do on fees paid out of our participants’ wallets and pocketbooks.
Why are going to such lengths to point this out? Robert Balfanz, Ph.D., a research professor at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, said it best when he wrote:
“Poverty is a bear. Its impact on students is both obvious and subtle. The effects of food scarcity, housing instability, and insufficient access to medical and dental care are clear. Poverty also brings an increased exposure to violence, which further shapes student behavior directly and indirectly in complicated and often counter-productive ways. Another characteristic of poverty is living under constant stress, which research is beginning to show has a wide range of negative cognitive, physical, emotional, and mental health effects.”
The students who qualify for NCOAE scholarships often have not lived easy lives. A majority of these kids don’t have the luxury of living with both parents in the home. In many cases, if they’re living with even one biological parent, they’re considered the lucky ones. Some of the students who participate in our courses and programs live with a grandparent or an older sibling or are in the care of foster parents.