“Did you ever consider thinking like farmers think,” asked my wife, Christine, over breakfast the other morning. And by “you,” she meant guides, outdoor/adventure educators and those folks who love to explore the outdoors.
I answered her question with a shoulder shrug and a grunt, which meant I didn’t understand the query.
So Christine patiently explained. “When you see a farm in the winter it may look as if nothing’s happening. The fields look bare and quiet. Tractors and trucks aren’t out in the fields working. However, the farm still has work to do. The job of the farmer is to repair equipment, sharpen tools as well as skills and to make sure that come the first day of planting everything is powered up, runs well and doesn’t get in the way of important work getting done.”
“Oh, I get it! We shouldn’t just box up our gear in the off season and forget about it until we want to go on a trip or work. We should be spending the “off season” repairing, understanding and building our skills so nothing gets in the way of fun and important work.”
She has a good point.
So let’s look at some of the skills we can work on enhancing during those days when we can’t get out. The benefit of working on these skills is becoming a better outdoors person by being prepared to deal with issues in the backcountry. And doing this with friends and family creates the feeling you are in the backcountry if you use your imagination.
Let’s start with (more…)
Editor’s Note: This year, the NCOAE blog is going to cover a variety of topics, written by a variety of our staff members. Topics will include best practices in Adventure Education (both in and out of wilderness settings), land use, history of course areas, flora and fauna, cooking, and why us “dirtbags” may be the best hope for the future of education. These topics will be explored through staff profiles, student work, submissions from our readers, and even video. Some topics will be more serious than others. When December rolls around, we hope that we have made you think, cheer, laugh and yearn to take your own adventures to the next level.
Outdoor Education Provides Education for Life
By Stephen Mullaney, NCOAE Staff Development Director
How often have you heard Outdoor and Adventure Education described as just running through the woods, climbing rocks and sleeping under the stars? This misconception is often accompanied by complaints that such outings offer no rules, no tests, no accountability and no “real” learning.
Take a minute to consider your own outdoor adventure story. Think back on the setting, the surrounding environment, the landscape and how that supports the story. Review what those participating went through and how they came out in the end. When you first heard someone else’s story, did you have a desire to be part of the event — even at its roughest, most trying times?
If I had to guess, the story probably took place in a memorable setting. The characters had to face serious obstacles, endure mishaps both humorous and terrifying — and the participants learned how to be resourceful. There were probably times of doubt, reflection and enlightenment. Yet, in the end there was success, changed perspectives, newfound strengths, resilience and an ability to (more…)