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Conferences

NCOAE Recommends — 2022 Outdoor Industry Conferences and Summits

By NCOAE Headquarters March 22, 2022

Conferences

The health pandemic has had an enormous impact on the outdoor education and adventure programming industries, not to mention those who thrive on human-powered outdoor recreation.

Our industry-sponsored conferences and tradeshows especially suffered as a result of strict, but often necessary local and state mandates about social distancing and public gatherings. And now that those precautions have mostly been lifted — with industry confabs back to in-person events for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started in February of 2020 — it’s time to get back into the full swing of in-person conferences and trade shows.

If you’re an outdoor industry professional, or you would like to work in outdoor education or adventure-based programming, you might want to check out the conferences and industry events highlighted in this post.

Attending in-person professional gatherings allows you to learn about what’s changed and what’s trending for our profession, participate in activities and discussions relating to the profession, and network with your peers.

Here then is a list of upcoming conferences, summits and gatherings that are worth checking out for 2022:

4th Annual Outdoor Economy Conference — April 4-7, 2022, in Cherokee, N.C.

The Outdoor Economy Conference seeks to connect company CEOs, conservation leaders, federal agency personnel, local and state park personnel, and economic developers to focus on what conference organizers believe matters both now and in the future.

This year, there are four separate conference tracks to explore, including: (more…)

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2019 Outdoor Industry Conferences and Summits

By NCOAE Headquarters July 23, 2019

Conferences

There’s a paradox in this outdoor education industry of ours, and that seeming contradiction is this: Sometimes you have to go indoors in order to continue to enjoy the outdoors. Think back to the last time you opened your eyes under a canopy of trees, or glided across a lake on a kayak, or looked up and visually plotted out a course for a complex climb.

For the outdoors enthusiast — and especially for those of us who work in the outdoor industry — this is our life. We’re outside, showing others how to appreciate themselves and the backcountry. But our line of work is often a complex blend of gregarious solitude. We spend our days giving our students the best of who we are. 

While we’re concentrating on the experience for the benefit of the novice as well as the experienced adventurers under our charge, we’re missing out on valuable time set aside to connect with our peers on a deeper level — outside of work.

(Image courtesy Association for Experiential Education)

The outdoor season ends, and many of us return home or follow the seasons to continue this work. In many instances, we pass up the opportunity to learn what’s new in the industry.

The solution? Look for outdoor industry conferences, trade shows, and summits you can attend. Traditionally, conferences are those large, more formal events that feature industry speakers, time in lecture halls and breakout rooms, and good dose of PowerPoint presentations. At the larger such gatherings, there’s usually a convention exhibit hall featuring industry vendors.

Summits, especially in the outdoor industry, on the other hand have a looser feel, with industry pioneers and luminaries speaking and offering demos, opportunities to meet with fellow outdoor pros during hands-on adventure-based activities, and the chance to participate in both formally led and informally organized discussions and salons. Summits often incorporate more interplay, with the opportunity to socialize with industry pros, designers and leaders taking precedence over formal education.

Below, we’ve listed some upcoming outdoor industry gatherings for those times when you’ve stepped off the trail and find yourself with some time to delve into what makes our industry tick. These outdoor industry summits, conferences, and trade shows are an excellent opportunity to (more…)

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Upcoming and Important Outdoor Industry Conferences

By NCOAE Headquarters June 30, 2018

Conferences

As you’re probably aware, we here at The National Center for Outdoor Adventure & Education (NCOAE) do a lot more than just organize backcountry trips for teens, Outdoor Educator courses for outdoor education industry professionals, GAP Year Programs for college-age students, and wilderness medicine and EMT training for anyone desirous of such certifications.

For certain, our wilderness outings and trainings are our bread and butter, focusing as they do on three-day to three-month adventures targeting everything from mountaineering to surfing and certification-granting trainings ranging from Emergency Medical Technician training to Leave No Trace ethics.

But among our tasks — and admittedly it’s more of a rewarding commitment than a task — is giving back to the outdoor education and adventure recreation industry what was so freely given to us. Our aim has always been to serve as a clearinghouse for information related to our profession, and one of the ways we do that is promote and participate in select outdoor industry meetings, markets and conferences.

And by promote, we mean we go the extra step to keep our industry peers up to date on happenings that affect our employees, our clients, our profession and of course, the environment. We want to get the word out about these upcoming and most important outdoor shows, seminars and confabs.

Having said this, what we offer below is a list of upcoming outdoor industry conferences and events that you might consider attending. Here’s what the calendar looks like for the rest of 2018 and the beginning of 2019: (more…)

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Takeaways From The 2014 Wilderness Risk Management Conference

By Office Admin November 19, 2014

Conferences

WRMC-2014-Action-StepsA rock fatally struck a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) student on the head 25 years ago, and the subsequent rescue efforts — in darkness and stormy weather — later resulted in an active collaboration between NOLS, Outward Bound and other outdoor education organizations to take a closer look at their risk management and safety practices.

The student, 24-year-old David Black, was fatally injured when another climber dislodged a rock above him, hitting Black in the head. Black was one of three students and a NOLS leader who were descending Mt. Warren in Wyoming’s Wind River Range on a midsummer afternoon in 1989.

In a review following the incident, leaders from both NOLS and Outward Bound agreed that there were contradictory practices in place between the two organizations — guidelines that were supposed to provide protocol before, during and after such incidents occur in wilderness. Buoyed by Black’s family — which challenged NOLS to do something about the lack of communication between industry players on the topic of risk management — NOLS organized the Wilderness Risk Managers Committee. In addition to NOLS, the group consisted of leaders from Outward Bound, the Wilderness Medicine Society, Exum Mountain Guides, the Association for Experiential Education, the National Park Service, National Safety Network, American Alpine Club and The Outdoor Network.

A year later, the committee had outlined a list of concerns that could have an adverse impact on each organization. Among those topics were suggestions to tone down the risk of some outdoor adventures in order to ensure safety. The concerns also targeted a need for consistency when it came to gathering data following an incident in the wild, and the problems associated with reliance on tech gadgets that can remove self-sufficiency from the experiential education equation.

The committee also agreed that it was to remain a collaborative communications group rather than a rule-making body, and it set about a plan to host a larger gathering of outdoor professionals the following fall. What followed in September of 1994 was a gathering of nearly 200 outdoor education leaders, guides and other stakeholders in Washington State for the first-ever Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC).

Much has been accomplished over the past two decades, with the fledgling forum developing into an international conference for outdoor education organizations of all scopes and sizes. These groups share the wilderness with others for the purpose of education, adventure, personal growth, leadership development and service learning. But specifically, the conference is a place for discussions about the risks that come with the rewards of a guided outdoor adventure.

And in each of the past 21 years, the WRMC has concentrated on risk management — including program administration, legal considerations, staff training and program practices. This annual risk-management revival has resulted in a better prepared and much more organized outdoor and experiential education industry.

This year’s Wilderness Risk Management Conference took place last month in Atlanta, Ga. For those of us who weren’t able to attend, the WRMC created a handy guide with key takeaways from each of the workshops presented over the three-day conference. Those takeaways appear below, and we encourage all of our industry peers to review what’s being recommended.

Presented below in alphabetical order, followed by the name of the workshop’s presenter(s) and the session’s key conclusions: (more…)

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Outdoor Education News Roundup

By Office Admin August 21, 2014

Conferences

In-The-NewsThe Outdoor Education industry is abuzz with news this time of the year. What with school almost back in session and the industry’s largest and most influential conferences coming up in just a few months, its no wonder there’s so much outdoor education news to catch up on.

In no particular order:

There’s a new trade magazine just for the college and university outdoor education industry. The inaugural issue of Outdoor Insider — published by The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) — is now available online without a subscription.

The 2nd edition of Administrative Practices of AEE Accredited Programs is now on sale for just $3.00. Published by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), this book is an invaluable resource for any outdoor education program administrator. And at just $3.00, buying it now is a no brainer.

AEE is now accepting workshop proposals for its Symposium on Experiential Education in the Digital Age, which takes place in Boston, Mass. from May 2-3, 2015.

The latest issue (September 2014) of the Journal of Experiential Education is now available. Articles include:

  • Effects of a Developmental Adventure on the Self-Esteem of College Students (This study examines the effects of outdoor developmental adventure programming (ODA) on college students’ self-esteem. Although some previous studies have shown that outdoor adventure programming has positive effects on self-esteem, others did not find any effect. A quasi-experimental study was conducted over 5 months, which included two pretests and two posttests to address some limitations of previous studies.)
  • The Social Climate and Peer Interaction on Outdoor Courses (This two-study report investigates achievement goal theory in the social domain to gain greater understanding of how the social climate of outdoor courses relates to peer interactions.)
  • Building a Community of Young Leaders: Experiential Learning in Jewish Social Justice (This study assesses whether more frequent participation in Jewish activist learning events is associated with higher levels of engagement in social justice-related activities and conceptions of Jewish identity. The study design was cross-sectional and comparative.)
  • Case Study — Behavior Change After Adventure Education Courses: Do Work Colleagues Notice? (In this case study, a mixed-method approach is used to examine the extent and type of changes in workplace attitudes and behavior, as self-reported by soldiers who had participated in 6- to 10-day “Experiential Leadership Development Activities” (ELDAs) delivered by the New Zealand Army Leadership Centre.)
  • Appreciative Inquiry and Autonomy-Supportive Classes in Business Education: A Semilongitudinal Study of AI in the Classroom (In this article, the authors describe 10 separate classroom experiences where an appreciative inquiry (AI) exercise was used for course creation. Post-exercise surveys of students showed that the AI exercise was perceived to be a successful practice.)
  • Book Review: Adventures in Social Theory: An Introductory Guidebook

The Association for Experiential Education’s 42nd Annual International Conference is fast approaching. This year’s gathering of outdoor and adventure-based educators, academic and students takes place in Chattanooga, Tenn., Oct. 23-26.

The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education is getting ready to host its (more…)

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Plan Now To Attend Outdoor Education Conferences

By Office Admin February 21, 2014

Conferences
Volunteers who produced AEE's 38th Annual International Conference (credit: AEE).

Volunteers who produced AEE’s 38th Annual International Conference (credit: AEE).

If you’re at all interested in a career in outdoor or adventure education and just don’t know where to start, we’re here to tell you that there are whole slew of outdoor education conferences that you can attend – and other things you can do right now – to improve your chance of being hired by a quality organization like The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). For instance, you could:

  • Become certified in wilderness medicine: There are lots of organizations that provide wilderness medicine training, including NCOAE. At a bare minimum, you should have your Wilderness First Responder certification if you’re serious about working in the outdoor education field.
  • Learn about the theory of experiential education: We recommend reading Theory and Practice of Experiential Education. Published by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), this book – which is now in its 4th edition – contains everything you need to know about both the theory behind – and practice of – experiential education.
  • Join an industry membership association: All of the really great outdoor education practitioners belong to at least one industry membership or trade association. For a list of associations to consider joining, visit the NCOAE Resources page online
  • Attend an outdoor industry conference or trade show: Once you know for sure that working in outdoor and experiential education is what you want to be doing, you should plan on attending at least one outdoor industry-related conference or trade show.

And speaking of outdoor industry conferences and trade shows, here’s a short rundown of the ones we feel you should know about: (more…)

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