Zac Adair, our co-founder and executive director, recently asked one of our course
participants why they signed up for a particular outdoor adventure. “It was a photo that
appeared on your website of a guy on top of a mountaintop with the blue skies above the
glaciers in the background.”
Picture yourself here. It’s a common tactic in all great marketing campaigns. If after
seeing an advertisement, you can picture yourself wearing a specific shirt, driving a
particular truck, or vacationing on a cruise ship that’s making its way to the Bahamas,
then the team of marketers responsible for those ads has done their job.
Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education — where we’re focused
on designing and guiding outdoor and adventure education experiences that promote
personal growth, professional development, and stewardship in our community and the
natural environment — we employ the same tactics. Take one look at our website and
you’ll see photographs and videos featuring real NCOAE students participating in the
very courses and trainings that we offer around the globe.
So, it’s little wonder that these videos and photos prompt our website visitors to picture
themselves on one of our backcountry adventures. But here’s the thing that may escape
such a casual or initial thought. That picture of a (more…)
Late last year, the staff at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington, North Carolina, asked for our help in creating a unique and meaningful 10-day, outdoor and adventure-based out-of-country expedition for a handful of its high school students.
In particular, Cape Fear’s educational leaders were looking for a diverse destination that would enable their students to immerse themselves deeply in a new culture — an adventure that would extend far beyond selfies, social media, suntan oil, and sand — and which would reinforce the school’s own values and curriculum. Known for designing and leading custom outdoor education programs for private and independent schools, we were happy to help!
The original Cape Fear Academy was established in 1868 as an independent school for boys. After closing in 1916, the school was reestablished 52 years later in 1968 with the commitment of “forging capable young adults with skills, confidence and resilience to take risks, solve problems and overcome challenges.”
So, it was with that focus in mind that the school asked us here at The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE) to custom design an expedition for nine of the school’s students, along with a chaperone from the school and three NCOAE field instructors. Their destination? Ecuador.
Our staff prepared an itinerary that incorporated the school’s objectives of instilling confidence, facing challenges, taking on informed risks, and solving problems. After all, those missives mirror the (more…)
It’s the end of a long day trekking through the backcountry. Tents are being set up, water is being collected and brought to the campsite and everyone is tired and hungry.
A conversation ensues:
Student: The stove won’t light.
Student: Should we fix it?
Instructor: Do you need it to cook dinner?
Student: Yes….we should fix it.
At this point the expedition, the cooks begin to “field strip” the stove. They remove all the parts, grease the gaskets, clean off the dirt and grime, then check the pump and screens and look for impurities in the fuel. After cleaning up all the parts, they reassemble the stove, pump it, light it up, lean down and listen closely.
Aha! There it is. The jet sound that is the sign of a happy working stove! Smiles are exchanged among the fledgling backcountry cooks because they know they prevented a potential disappointing dinner experience.
Every new generation of leaders needs to acquire the skills necessary for problem solving and they need to practice those skills. They must develop a (more…)
Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we offer a wide range of outdoor education and adventure courses, ranging in length from a week to an entire semester. And what that does is offer our students a choice based on their particular circumstances, interests and needs.
By offering dozens of adventures from which to choose, students can easily find a course that fits their schedules, skill levels and price. I think it’s pretty well guaranteed that no matter the length of the adventure, you will have an incredible time. Further, you will be offered a great learning opportunity and most likely attain goals and outcomes that you never dreamed possible.
However, I have a bias. And as our staff development director and an instructor, I have every right to have an opinion, based on years of observation. And that bias is this: I believe the longer the course, the better the experience.
I base this assessment on a number of factors, not the least is an opportunity for me to (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…)