One tree doesn’t offer the strength of a forest, just as one organization can’t lead an entire industry.
According to others, we here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) have distinguished ourselves as outdoor and adventure education industry leaders. But without collaborations, our ability to be creators and innovators would be difficult — if not impossible to achieve.
Since 2009, we have sought out ways to collaborate, learn, and lead with others. As a result, partnerships have taken us around the globe and helped us grow, and we happily play it forward, or backward or sideways to help our partners and others do the same.
As the calendar runs out in 2021 and we look ahead toward 2022, we see our biggest year yet on the horizon. On the agenda are courses, trainings, expeditions, and custom outdoor education programs that vary in length from three days to three months — all of which focus on technical outdoor and personal development skills. These include mountaineering, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, surfing, sea kayaking, remote backcountry travel and camping, and of course… team building.
So, how exactly do partnership and collaborations with like-minded organizations help us grow? As we began working with public, private, and independent schools over 10 years ago, the word spread about our programming, curriculum, depth of instruction, and track record of facilitating programs that shifted students’ lives, school cultures, and even started to redefine communities.
For example, our collaboration with North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., allows us to help historically black universities and colleges orientate their incoming students in ways that support efforts to improve college enrollment and retention rates. As a result of our working together, NCCU — which was founded as part of the Chautauqua movement over 110 years ago — has written into its Cheatham White Scholarship program a requirement that incoming students participate in a wilderness/adventure education component that’s run by NCOAE. Students arrive on campus, and less than 24 hours later, they’re on a five-day backpacking trip deep within a nearby national forest.
Today, we work with schools from the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast. You can find us in the desert, Alaskan wilds, and the tip of South America. A recent partnership with Nahual — an outdoor adventure and sustainability school based in the outskirts of Quito, Ecuador — allows us to have a base camp south of the equator with access to one-of-a-kind rivers, mountains, and bike-packing routes.
As a result, this relationship offers prospective NCOAE instructor candidates another course area from which to choose. You can complete that training in North Carolina, Oregon, or Ecuador.
We also forged an academic relationship with the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) that sees students earning up to six academic credits for participating in and completing educationally-focused backcountry expeditions thousands of miles from campus — some lasting up to a month.
Beginning in the spring of 2018, UNCW students were offered study opportunities with NCOAE in some fairly magnificent outdoor classroom settings in Chile, Patagonia, and Alaska. As a result of the accord between the university and our North Carolina-based headquarters, certain NCOAE courses are now counted among the approved academic activities for the university’s Department of Environmental Sciences (EVS) students. Even someone who is interested in taking one of our courses but is not a UNCW student can have their credits processed with the university when meeting certain requirements.
What does this all mean as the ball drops and another new year begins?
Our shoulder season is disappearing, and we are hiring more support staff and instructors. We will be in the Everglades, Ecuador, and the wilds of North Carolina before you take down your holiday decorations.
So, if you want to partner with NCOAE or get a job working with us, please call us at (910) 399-8090 and we can start a conversation that might change your life or the trajectory of the organization you run or work for.