July 2014

The Pan That Started A Backcountry Cooking Revolution

By Office Admin July 30, 2014

Wilderness Cooking

They say man only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make things stop. To that short list, we’d like to add the Banks Fry-Bake Pan — a truly lightweight frying pan that’s perfect for cooking — and baking — in the backcounry. Fact is we take at least one of these backcountry gastronomic gadgets along on every single one of our courses here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Next to a map and maybe a compass, it’s the most important tool we carry with us.

(Photo courtesy of Banks Fry-Bake Co. Used with permission.)

(Photo courtesy of Banks Fry-Bake Co. Used with permission.)

Keep in mind that we aren’t getting paid a cent for praising this product. Why then are we choosing to devote an entire blog post to it? First off, we’re doing it because we can. You know — freedom of speech and all that. But the real reason is to let our outdoor wilderness course participants — as well as outdoor and wilderness educators across the globe — know that backpacking and outdoor exploration is often a game of weights and convenience. And we can’t think of many things that are as light or as easy to use than Banks’ durable cooking pans.

But here’s what really sold us at NCOAE on the concept of carrying these pans everywhere we trek, hike, raft, climb and camp: Along with our friends over at the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, our founders and staff have been using Banks Fry-Bake pans for decades, never once disappointed by their durability and function.

There’s just something about eating in the outdoors that makes the experience almost surreal to the palate. Think about it. Where else but in the wilderness does a big can of stew taste like something from a five-star restaurant? Nowhere else, that’s where!

And with Banks Fry-Bake pans, outdoor enthusiasts and cooks alike can fry freshly caught fish, steam up a pot of veggies, stir-fry chicken, and sauté nearly anything else. You can even bake a cake, should you have a birthday boy or girl on your excursion. Talk about versatile; see the recipe for carrot cake at the end of today’s post!

What these lightweight pans do is take the place of those heavy cast-iron Dutch ovens that used to take up half the room in your (more…)

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Sign Up For Our North Carolina Leave No Trace Trainer Course

By Office Admin July 26, 2014

Training & Certifications

If you’re really interested in making the wilderness your home office, there are few programs that can get you started that are as basic and important as our Leave No Trace Trainer Course.

Leave No TraceEven if you have experience as a wilderness guide or outdoor educator, this two-day training gets you to a point where you can enthusiastically acquire, endorse and practice the seven principles that make up the successful Leave No Trace (LNT) philosophy.

Best news yet: We’ve still got space available for our Sept. 4 and 5 LTN Trainer course, which takes place in Wilmington, N.C. We’ve worked with LNT to ensure this course is ideal for educators, guides, agency employees and other outdoor education professionals. Successful graduates gain skills to teach Leave No Trace techniques and ethics to their co-workers, clients, friends and family.

Ours is a short and simple course — unlike the more advanced Master Educator LNT Training. And that’s not a bad thing, because as a result, it’s (more…)

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Get To Know The NCOAE Brand Mark

By Office Admin July 24, 2014


If you look atop our website, you’ll see a unique diamond-shaped icon to the left of our organization’s name, and that new brand mark is, well, brand new to us. The name “brand mark,” by the way, is just another fancy way to say “logo,” and we’re really happy to tell you how we came up with the design.

And we say “we,” but what we mean is this: Most of the actual thinking, creativity, tweaking and artistry involved in the evolution of our new brand mark was accomplished by Juli Johnson from 360 Creative Vision, the company behind our new logo.

Most brand marks have an enormous amount of thought behind them and ours is certainly no exception.

Ask Juli and she’ll tell that our co-founders, Zac and Celine Adair, pretty much gave her free rein on the design, telling her they’d really like something that is simple and iconic. But in the same breath, Juli will also tell you that while talking with these two nature lovers, she sensed that both possess a Zen-like, spiritual attitude when it comes to anything that exists in nature.

For instance, Zac told Juli he certainly didn’t expect her to present an obligatory drawing of a pine tree on a hill. Not only would that be a reminder of a car freshener, but it seemed redundant to him in comparison to what the other businesses and organizations similar to The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) were using.

The seeds for Juli’s inspiration in the initial concept included a directional compass to illustrate adventure/outdoors, scaled back and simplified only showing the needle that points north. And an ancient symbol that represents knowledge.


Juli said her first choice was “Enso” — a simple circle shape that represents the Zen Buddhist symbol for enlightenment. In her research of this symbol — or a stylized version of it — Juli found the use of an Enso symbol had already been copyrighted by (more…)

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NCOAE And The 20 Wilderness Areas You Have to See Before You Die

By Office Admin July 21, 2014

Teen Courses

The Wilderness Society — which is way up there near the top of the list for conservation organizations working to protect our nation’s shared wildlands — recently released its list of 20 wilderness areas to see before you die.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s Wilderness Act, which protects more than 750 wildland areas for public enjoyment, the Wilderness Society came up with its own countdown of Top 20 wilderness areas that everyone should visit before they die.


(Joshua Tree National Park. credit: Flickr, The City Project)

And after reviewing this impressive bucket list of wilderness destinations, some of us here at the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) did the math and discovered that five of these wildland destinations just happen to be “classrooms” where we often operate some of our wilderness expeditions. That’s a whopping quarter of the list — 25 percent to be exact!

Below, we’ve listed the Wilderness Society’s 20 prime destinations and we’ve placed asterisks next to the locations where we operate our own wildland programs:

  • Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, Oregon
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness, Florida
  • Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness, New Mexico
  • Joshua Tree Wilderness, California *
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
  • Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, Colorado
  • Zion Wilderness, Utah
  • Death Valley Wilderness, California
  • Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona
  • Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness, Hawaii *
  • Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California *
  • Yosemite Wilderness, California
  • Olympic Wilderness, Washington
  • Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico
  • Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho
  • Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho
  • Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
  • Teton Wilderness, Wyoming *
  • Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire
  • Mollie Beattie Wilderness, Alaska *

Lists are nice and orderly, but what we’d like to do here is present a pretty picture of our particular prime pristine public parkland properties:

Joshua Tree Wilderness, California: We’re running a custom course for a private California-based school’s 7th and 8th graders in Joshua Tree in October. What these youngsters can expect is an area of fascinating rock formations in an area that is the convergence of Colorado and the Mojave deserts where the Joshua tree thrives. Joshua Tree is also the hometown of five palm-shrouded oases that attract tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, kangaroo rats and burrowing owls. And at night, you can’t beat the stars.

Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California: We’re currently planning a fall 2015 course in this wilderness area, which runs the gamut of outdoor natural formations, ranging from (more…)

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Outdoor Educator Job Opening for Joshua Tree Course

By Office Admin July 16, 2014

Working at NCOAE

Come early October, more than 100 seventh and eighth graders — along with an experienced crew of outdoor educators from The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) — will be camping under the stars in Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

The only thing missing from this scenario are the outdoor educators, and if you meet the requirements, you could be spending Oct. 7-9 with 120 youngsters, staring up into a full moon, which, by the way, we are also providing for this particular NCOAE course.

As you’re probably learning right now, NCOAE is a well-respected source for outdoor adventure and education for teens and adults who are interested in personal growth and professional and educational development. And the three-day excursion to Joshua Tree will feature one NCOAE staff member for each teacher and 10 students.

That’s where you come in. If hired for this course, you will be responsible for facilitating a meaningful and safe outdoor education experience for some of these young outdoor explorers. What this entails is teaching specific aspects of the NCOAE curriculum — and not to worry because we’ll be providing paid training for that.

In addition, you will guide such activities as (more…)

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Have any further questions about our courses, what you’ll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we’re here to help!