Archive

April 2024

Educating the Educators to Ensure Safe and Satisfying Outdoor Adventure and Educational Experiences

By Cam Francisco April 22, 2024

Outdoor Education

When you’re planning a backcountry-based experiential educational experience for yourself or a child/teen, you want to be sure that the people leading the outdoor program know their stuff. Few things are scarier in life — or potentially deadlier — than being ill-prepared in the wilderness. 

To ensure safety and an enjoyable, fulfilling experience, outdoor educators and field instructors must be highly skilled in many facets of outdoor and adventure education, including the following:

  • Wilderness medicine
  • Map and compass navigation
  • Environmental stewardship principles and practices
  • Backpacking planning and packing
  • Wilderness shelters
  • Backcountry cooking, water purification, and food safety
  • Paddling techniques and boat safety (canoe, kayak, or raft)
  • Climbing
  • Leadership

One of the reasons we here at The National Center for Outdoor Adventure and Education (NCOAE) excel at delivering safe, enjoyable, and transformative outdoor adventures is that we educate our educators. We provide our field instructors with the training and opportunities to pursue the certifications they need to achieve best-in-class status.

Young campers standing outside lean-to in the woods

Field Instructors and Guides: There IS a Big Difference

NCOAE outdoor educators and field instructors are not just “guides.” They are experienced outdoor educators with a broad range of responsibilities that include the following: (more…)

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When to Call — or Not Call — for Help During a Wilderness Emergency

By Todd Mullenix April 11, 2024

Wilderness Medicine

In wilderness or the backcountry, bad things can happen to even the most experienced of adventurers. Truth is, most illnesses and injuries on the trail can be managed by the adventurer, or with the assistance of someone possessing some training in wilderness medicine

Of course, some injuries and illnesses do pose a threat to life or limb, and in other cases, the person — who for our purposes we’ll call our “patient” — may not even survive without professional medical intervention. It’s those situations in the grey area that leave many outdoor adventurers wondering, Do we call for help or not? You maybe conflicted for several reasons: pride or overconfidence, embarrassment or reluctance to admit weakness, misjudging the severity of the situation, concerns over medical costs, or perhaps you lack an effective means to contact emergency services.

As the ancient adage suggests: “He who hesitates is lost,” and the objective of this post is to equip you with the knowledge and insight needed to arrive at the right decision faster. Here, you will learn when to call for help, the type of help to call for, and the various means of communication you can use to call for help.

Important! Before embarking on any wilderness or backcountry adventure, leave your itinerary with a trusted individual, along with instructions to contact emergency personnel in the event that you fail to return or call on the scheduled date of your return. If you need a visual on how important this is, watch the 2010 film 127 Hours, which vividly illustrates the torment suffered by Aron Ralston, the rock climber who was forced to amputate part of his own right arm after it was pinned between rocks in an isolated canyon in Utah.

Deciding When to Call for Help In The Wilderness

When you or someone in your group suffers a serious illness or injury, toss your emotions aside and focus on the following factors in deciding whether or not to call for help: (more…)

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