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…)
Well, it’s official. We’ve just wrapped up and put a bow around another successful season of adventure-based programming in the Pacific Northwest, with all of our expeditions originated from our base of operations in Maupin, Ore., alongside the wild and scenic Deschutes River.
And, of course, we here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) are already making big plans for next season’s explorations of the Pacific Northwest. Our custom trips feature a range of course options to fit every organization’s or adventurer’s schedule, all set against the background of some of this country’s most breathtaking terrain — the rugged and remote Cascade Mountains. During your trip, you’ll be guided through deep canyons, hike along alpine meadows, traverse cold-mountain streams, explore cascading waterfalls, and enjoy remote mountain passes.
For the 2022 season — in addition to custom programs for schools, youth organizations, and other groups — we continue to offer a range of (more…)
In recent weeks, we’ve all been hearing more and more from parents, educators, and even the nation’s top disease experts on the impending opening of schools across the nation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has suggested that school districts developing their plans for campus reopening should find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. Fauci said that could include everything from outdoor classes, to recess, and lunchtime.
Plans for just when and how schools will reopen are being formulated and fine-tuned, and the consensus seems to be that being outside is the safest place to be during the instructional day. As states start to mandate returns to school, safety and quality of education are at the forefront of design.
Obviously, you’ll get no argument about that from those of us here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). And we have some suggestions. But first, here are the questions we are hearing most often from you.
Why move outdoors?
Doctor Fauci already told us that spending time outdoors is safer during times of infectious diseases, and we’re puzzled why some schools forget that being outside is often best for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Studies have shown that, in districts with high numbers of second language students, learning outdoors is (more…)
The outdoor industry uses the term “shoulder season” to indicate times of the year when we’re less busy. With the exception of the snow sport sector of the industry, for many companies and outdoor outfits, that time starts in October and can stretch all the way to May or early June.
The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) has diligently devised, implemented, and executed programs over the years in order to reduce the economic effects of the shoulder season. For us, this means employing many of our staff members year-round. That means our participants have the opportunity to experience adventure-based recreation and personal growth & development programs throughout the year. That’s because we offer opportunities that fit our client’s “shoulder season” schedules. And by expanding our season, we can travel to more diverse locations around the U.S. and abroad.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine
On those many occasions when schools, clubs, organizations, or companies ask us to come up with an adventure/education excursion for their group, we don’t reach into a cabinet and pull out a cookie-cutter version of a wilderness outing. Instead, we break out topographical maps, weather charts, time-tested notes from adventures past, permits for numerous routes, and we add a lot of imagination to the occasion.
The sole purpose within our Custom Programs Division is to make sure your organization experiences an adventure that meets and then exceeds your most specific objectives. And we start out by using our ears.
We carefully listen to what it is you want to achieve, and then we begin planning that experience from the ground up. No matter the size of your group, we’re here to present an experience of a lifetime for each of your organization’s guests, students, or employees.
Our objective is for our participants to come home safe and tell stories to their friends and acquaintances that sound more like fiction. Really good fiction! The only difference is you’ll have the photos to back up your stories. You dream of an experience, and we dream too! Need proof? Take a look at (more…)
You don’t have to look at a calendar to know summer is quickly drawing to a close. Look at the traffic in your hometown. Notice anything different? How about the roads leading to and from local or regional shopping malls and big box stores? With most kids and their parents hitting the stores — or the Internet — in order to get properly outfitted for the school year, the telltale signs of the fall semester are all readily available.
What’s equally important as preparing for a new school year is planning ahead for personal end-of-year adventures that can keep you motivated over the next three-and-a-half months (or in the case of spring semester adventures — eight-and-a-half months) of textbooks, term papers, quizzes, and preparing for 45-minute lectures.
With some wise planning and a vow to battle procrastination, you can have a pretty good notion as to how you’re going to spend your next holiday or seasonal break from the classroom. And by having all your ducks in a row way before the end of the year, you’ll be rewarded by having that much more time to daydream about the adventure ahead.
As for group programs at the end of this coming academic semester or year, private schools and public school districts all across the nation have already designed and implemented (more…)
“Phone’s ringing, Dude” — The Big Lebowski
The phone’s also ringing here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), and a good number of times the caller is representing a public, independent or charter school that is seeking help with their fledgling outdoor education and wilderness-based adventure programs.
These educational institutions either want to greatly improve their existing program or actually incorporate quality adventure-based experiential education into their current curriculum.
One director of a highly regarded independent school in the Pacific Northwest recently told us that — despite all the electronic means we currently possess to “stay connected” — many of her school’s students (more…)
Two National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) instructors recently guided an international group of high school students on a 16-day custom outdoor education program in the Alaskan wilderness.
The teens, all of whom were enrolled in a youth leadership program in South Korea, got their first introduction to Alaska’s glaciers, jagged mountain ranges, coastal islands and mudflats as their flights neared the airport for Day One of their adventure. Stepping off the plane, the teens immediately grabbed their backpacks and headed out toward uninhabited remote wilderness.
NCOAE course director and lead field instructor Matt Seats said the students had mentally prepared themselves for 10 days of backpacking, route finding and living in the wild. Following a week of wilderness medicine training and some basic training in how to live and travel safely in the wilderness, the group was ready to start their adventure.
Though each of them had their own set of apprehensions, the students arrived at one of their first destinations by foot hours sooner than expected, which prompted these novice explorers to literally dance, jumping and shouting at the top of their lungs in joy about their accomplishment.
That evening they enjoyed the hypnotic effects of a sweetly scented campfire, fueled by the steady Alaskan wind in a dry riverbed. For some of these teens, it was the first campfire they had ever built.
The backdrop for this adventure — Wrangell-St. Elias National Park — is the least visited national park in the United States, and it’s where our group of teen adventurers found themselves 10 miles into the (more…)
Editor’s Note: Stephen Mullaney, NCOAE’s lead instructor, recently returned from our first-ever program abroad — an expedition to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Stephen led a group of South Korean high school teens on a six-day expedition through portions of this mystical and spiritual country. Below are his reflections on what he describes as a triumphant adventure trek.
It’s five in the morning and students participating in The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) first-ever international expedition are all still asleep in their tents. I sit on the trail in the village of Pothana and look toward the horizon. A local villager named Chimay is blowing incense my direction — to bring me luck, he says.
Off in the distance, what first appears to my sleepy eyes to be clouds reveals itself for what it truly is: a vast stretch of snow fields and rock. Time to retrain my brain and the way I see the sky. My eyes follow the snowfields up, up through the clouds, to what seems like an absurd height, finally resting on the summit itself.
Machapuchare — “the Fish Tail” as it is interpreted in English — is a sacred mountain honoring Shiva (one of the main deities of Hinduism). The mountain is off limits to climbers and only one known attempt was ever made to summit its massive peak. Those climbers (three of them in 1957) stopped just five hundred feet from the summit, not because they couldn’t go on, but out of respect for the local culture and beliefs of the native people.
Viewing Machapuchare is how I kick off my first day on the trail for NCOAE in Nepal. A holy mountain that is pristine, respected and an earthen barrier that turns back explorers out of respect and sensitivity — not fear. Details about the mountain were provided to me by a local woman, a guide named Sita. She saw me drawing a picture of the mountain in my journal and volunteered to share its history with me.
We are in Nepal where I am teaching students to be (more…)
Nothing makes us happier here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) than meeting up with three busloads of seventh and eighth graders in a wilderness area and then teaching them about how to get along in an outdoor setting — in this case Joshua Tree National Park with its breathtaking sandstone rock formations monuments.
Last month, a group of our instructors from both the East and West Coasts participated in a three-day outing with 123 students from the famed Wildwood School in Los Angeles. These youngsters participated in what they and their teachers described afterwards as an incredible experience.
Our co-founder and director of operations, Celine Adair, was there and said these “super smart Wildwood students,” joined 34 adults in setting up 52 tents in a base camp that became a theater of sorts, complete with two special sunsets, seven great meals, an orchestra performance by about a dozen coyotes each night, and topped off with a full-moon lunar eclipse with a few shooting stars tossed into the astronomical mix.
During the three-day outing, the Wildwood group participated in environmental studies, including learning the phases of the moon — very appropriate for the eclipse — local ecology and water use conservation.
They also broke up into smaller groups to learn about levels of communication, stages of relationships, and to discuss the best ways to identify and discuss feelings. Finally, they also learned outdoor skills, such as setting up a shelter, keeping warm, fire safety, hydration, hygiene and how to get found if lost.
Wildwood’s staff tells us they were (more…)
We’re not sure who said it first but the person who coined the phrase ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ really was onto something. Whether it’s in education, hats, management, or financial services, one size doesn’t fit all, and the same goes for your employee training and teambuilding.
That’s why we’re pleased to announce the launch of Custom Programs here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. That’s right… in addition to open enrollment teen and adult backcountry courses — and training in emergency medicine, wilderness medicine, and Leave No Trace (LNT) — NCOAE now offers custom programs to meet any of your organization’s highly specific needs.
- Want to train your entire team in the fundamentals of wilderness medicine? No problem. We’ll even run the program at your location!
- Interested in taking your executives out for a custom three-day backcountry teambuilding experience? We’ve got you covered.
- What’s that you say… you have a group of teenage girls who deserve a trip of their own? No problem… start with any of our teen adventure itineraries and tell us what you’d like keep or change, and that’s the course we’ll run for you.
See where we’re going with this?
The advantage of custom programs include (more…)
It’s pouring rain, and some of North Carolina Central University’s custom outdoor education program participants slip into the knee-deep mud, briefly maintaining their balance, only to slide like baseball players down a short, navigable incline.
Stephen Mullaney, NCOAE’s director of school partnerships, quickly glances over to see how Christina is doing — just in time to see a huge grin from beneath her rain hood. That figures, he thinks.
Christina Garrett is a go-getter, no question about that. She is the Associate Director of University Scholars at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), one of about a hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States.
As Christina, NCCU students, and some of NCOAE wilderness field instructors continue their trek in the rain, she tells Stephen about her own outdoor experiences, including fishing with her father, visiting state parks, and her accomplishment of heading what is likely the first required wilderness orientation experience for incoming freshmen and transfer students at a Historically Black College/University.
Christina’s program, which is named the Cheatham-White Scholarship Program, was established in 2018 and provides academic scholarships based on merit. Focusing on students attending NCCU, the program was designed for exceptional student scholars who possess a range of interests, proficiency in both the arts and sciences, and who demonstrate leadership potential and a commitment to service.
Admittance to the scholarship-supported program includes tuition and fees, housing, meals, textbooks, a laptop, travel, and personal expenses. The generous scholarship also means four summers of enrichment and networking. That means travel — maybe even international travel.
Where NCOAE comes into the picture is at the (more…)