Education Without Walls

Update from NCOAE Spinoff — Education Without Walls

By NCOAE Headquarters August 13, 2021

Education Without Walls

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recall that Education Without Walls (EWOW) began more than a decade ago here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).

Today, EWOW has become a successful organization — a self-sustaining not-for-profit complete with its own administrative staff, board of directors, programs, and funders… all of which are focused on providing academic and life skills guidance for motivated teens with financial need.

Education Without Walls Logo

With that as background, the rest of today’s post focuses on what this fledgling organization has been up to since spinning off from NCOAE, and what’s on its horizon.

The Big 24

The organization’s first big fundraising event — The Big 24, which aims to raise enough funds to award one-year scholarships to 24 deserving students — begins this Sunday (Aug. 15) and runs through Oct. 15, culminating with a first-ever “Evening Without Walls” fundraising event.

For information on The Big 24 and how you can help, please The Big 24 webpage or contact EWOW’s Executive Director, Celine Adair, MA, LMFT by email or by calling (910) 515-9157.

Summer Expeditions

Education Without Walls has always been focused on merging meaningful outdoor adventures with ongoing mentorship to assist aspiring students in identifying and accomplishing their (more…)

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Generous Gifts from Island Women Funds Education Without Walls

By NCOAE Headquarters August 17, 2018

Education Without Walls

Over the past two summers, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) has received a total of nearly $9,000 from Island Women, Inc., a group of savvy, talented and passionate women who live in nearby Pleasure Island, N.C. Island Women is a not-for-profit organization that’s on a mission to enhance the quality of life on Pleasure Island, which is located just five minutes south of NCOAE’s headquarters facilities in Wilmington.

The generous donation (totaling $8,874) was designated by the local group to be used in NCOAE’s not-for-profit subsidiary, Education Without Walls — an outdoor- and adventure-based program that provides academic and life skill guidance for high school kids living at or below the Federal Poverty Level. The end goal of our program is to motivate and support low-income students in identifying and achieving their potential.

Among many other commitments, Island Women promotes education, cultural expression, and mentoring among women. In our case, Island Women’s members were interested in our Education Without Walls program after NCOAE Co-Founder Celine Adair was invited to address the organization in the summer of 2016.

Celine described how the majority of (more…)

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Meet an Education Without Walls Graduate — Joaly Canseco

By NCOAE Headquarters February 23, 2018

Education Without Walls

We here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) are very proud of the Education Without Walls program and its students! Education Without Walls is a wilderness-based outdoor education program that engages 13 to 18 year old students in a variety of adventure activities, including backpacking, rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, and camping.  This non-profit program, established by the The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), provides scholarships for motivated students in financial need, to participate in outdoor adventure programming.

By using Wilderness as a classroom, Education Without Walls offers an exceptional learning environment — one where instructors foster curiosity, students apply critical thinking, and memories are constructed and not soon forgotten. Instructors use NCOAE’s Core Curriculum to guide lesson planning and the facilitation of experiential education activities that focus on personal development, community building and the acquisition and mastery of technical outdoor skills. As a result, Education Without Walls students make close friends and learn incredible skills, all while having a blast on adventures of a lifetime.

Joaly participating in an Education Without Walls trip in 2013.

We’d like to introduce you to one of the many success stories that has come out of Education Without Walls — Joaly Canseco — and tell you a little about her background and thoughts about her own life-changing experience with Education Without Walls.

Joaly, who is now 19 years old, first started participating in Education Without Walls back when she was 13. We sat her down for a brief Q&A, and here is what she had to say: (more…)

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NCOAE Seeks Funds to Send 10 Students to Alaska

By NCOAE Headquarters February 25, 2017

Education Without Walls

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the National Park Service (NPS), 10 students enrolled in our Education Without Walls program will participate in a 21-day summer 2017 backcountry adventure in southeast Alaska. The funding for the trip, which is designated as an NPS Challenge Cost Share Program Grant, covers nearly all the costs associated with taking the students to our northernmost state for what amounts to the trip of their young lives.

The only catch is, the five boys and five girls selected for this outdoor education and service learning adventure are still a bit shy of having enough funds to make the trip, which will be guided by a trio of National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) instructors, as well as two National Park Service archeologists.

Education Without Walls Students

Specifically, each of the students pictured above will need about $1,000 to pay for round- trip commercial airfare from Wilmington, NC, and bush flights throughout the Alaskan interior.

Once there, in addition to a rash of breathtaking day hikes and exploratory treks, the 10 students be working alongside a National Park Service archeologist to clear brush and debris within the Chititu Historic Mining Landscape. This historic area features more than 30 structures and features exemplifying a (more…)

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What Good is The Warmth of Summer, Without The Cold of Winter to Give it Sweetness

By Office Admin September 13, 2016

Education Without Walls

The heat index read 110-degrees. Clouds were building, preparing to light up the sky with electric current and release rain by the bucket loads. It was still summer, yet parents were starting to ask questions about school, course loads, teachers and materials needed to start the year. Year-round schools were already weeks into the fall semester. It’s sad on many levels to think that the season for fun in the sun was coming to a close.

back to school blues

For students enrolled in The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s Education Without Walls (EWW) program, stepping out of the woods and back into the classroom is a time for them to test their new skills, to experience their new powers and to celebrate the success that accompanies effort and accomplishment.

It’s distressing to be wet for days on end. Watching lightning light up the inside of the tent can be paralyzing. Hanging off the edge of a 200-foot rock wall makes the brain spark and flutter. In the end, however, these are the experiences that can never be taken away by tensions and frustrations at home, in school and in the community at large. It’s these experiences that give our students the (more…)

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Whole Foods Selects NCOAE As Community Giving Day Beneficiary

By Office Admin March 9, 2016

Education Without Walls

It probably goes without saying that most of us here at the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) are big fans — and loyal customers — of our local Whole Foods Market.

Since we put such an emphasis on doing good things for our bodies, it only makes sense that we purchase those items we put in our bodies from markets that sell only healthy, organic and fresh fare.

So when the good folks at our local Whole Foods Market in Wilmington, N.C., said they wanted to help us raise money for NCOAE’s Education Without Walls program, we just shook our heads and asked, “Where do we sign up?”

Whole Foods Day Wilmington

What that means is this: You do your grocery shopping at the Wilmington Whole Foods Market on March 23, 2016 — also known as Community Giving Day and 5% Day — and 5 percent of Whole Foods’ net sales on that day are donated to the Education Without Walls program, allowing us to continue our important work of educating local youth through unique wilderness-based experiences just miles from home.

Taking a step back for a moment, what we do here at NCOAE is plan, facilitate and guide teen and adult adventurers all around the globe. Locally, we offer youngsters in grades 7-9 and 10-12 the opportunity to (more…)

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Vertex Railcar Steps Up Its Support of Wilmington Youth

By Office Admin January 15, 2016

Education Without Walls

In ecology, “sustainability” refers to one’s capacity to endure. It’s how biological systems remain diverse and productive for very long periods of time. The notion of sustainability applies also to not-for-profit organizations, and in our case here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), to our ability to attract and retain support that allows us to offer scholarships to youth interested in participating in our programs.

With that as a backdrop for today’s blog post, we’re pleased to announce that Vertex Railcar and Vertex Outreach Services has again decided to provide $15,000 in funding for Education Without Walls (EWW) — NCOAE’s scholarship supported adventure program for local youth whose family income often falls below the Federal poverty level.

Giving Tree

Thank you Vertex!

Vertex’s donation, which is the second we’ve received over the last year, will allow us to (more…)

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Vertex Rail Corp Provides NCOAE With Funding and Volunteer Support

By Office Admin July 24, 2015

Education Without Walls

Vertex_Community_OutreachIf you follow us on Facebook, you may have read about a Community Outreach grant we recently received from the Vertex Railcar Corporation — a startup that’s focused on building the next generation of safe rail tank cars. Vertex and The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) are neighbors here in Wilmington, N.C. When Vertex learned about the work we do through our Educational Without Walls (EWW) program (namely, offering young people living at or below the poverty line the opportunity to participate in structured monthly outdoor adventures and expeditions), they were intrigued.

After meeting with our executive team in person here at NCOAE headquarters and asking how they could help, we received a $15,000 grant from Vertex to further expand the EWW offering between now and the end of 2015.

While we were blow away by Vertex’s support of our local youth, what happened next impressed us even more.

Vertex Outreach Services strongly support the efforts and work of the organizations it supports, including NCOAE. While they’re among the first to stand up and applaud the outstanding services we provide to our local youth, they’re also the type of corporation that walks its talk.


See the people in the image above? Those are just some of the Vertex Railcar Corp employees who generously volunteered their time earlier this month to help us with a little sprucing-up project that we hosted here at NCOAE World Headquarters in Wilmington. All on their own, Vertex Outreach Services asked how else, aside from funding scholarships to send students on EWW courses, they could (more…)

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How To Help Provide Outdoor Experiences for Youth in Need

By Office Admin May 22, 2015


At first glance, our website might lead the casual observer to surmise that our organization, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), is just another run-of-the-mill for-profit business. The kind of outfit where the owners get rich by running adventure-based trips for children from well-to-do families to exotic destinations around the globe. Truth is, nothing could be further from the truth.


While we welcome anyone — regardless of their socioeconomic standing or means — to enroll in our courses, we take great pride in making all of those courses affordable and accessible to those without means. Oh, and we might add at this juncture that we’re a not-for-profit organization. Which means we rely just as much on individual and foundation giving as we do on fees paid out of our participants’ wallets and pocketbooks.

Why are going to such lengths to point this out? Robert Balfanz, Ph.D., a research professor at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, said it best when he wrote:

Robert Balfanz's picture

Robert Balfanz, Ph.D.

“Poverty is a bear. Its impact on students is both obvious and subtle. The effects of food scarcity, housing instability, and insufficient access to medical and dental care are clear. Poverty also brings an increased exposure to violence, which further shapes student behavior directly and indirectly in complicated and often counter-productive ways. Another characteristic of poverty is living under constant stress, which research is beginning to show has a wide range of negative cognitive, physical, emotional, and mental health effects.”

The students who qualify for NCOAE scholarships often have not lived easy lives. A majority of these kids don’t have the luxury of living with both parents in the home. In many cases, if they’re living with even one biological parent, they’re considered the lucky ones. Some of the students who participate in our courses and programs live with a grandparent or an older sibling or are in the care of foster parents. (more…)

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Three-day Paddle Out to Masonboro Island is this Weekend

By Office Admin May 1, 2015

Education Without Walls

Some lucky eighth- and ninth-graders are heading out for a three-day expedition to the remote and undeveloped Masonboro Island near Myrtle Grove, N.C., this weekend, joined by a pair of instructors and a course director from here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education.

The eight youngsters are from the Wilmington, N.C., area and are participating in a custom program we’re running for New Hanover County schools called — appropriately — Education Without Walls.

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons — ©2010 Lucasmj.

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons — ©2010 Lucasmj.

Jena Honeyman and Wes Hawkins are the NCOAE lead instructors for this course, and she will be assisted by course director Joshua Youse.

After spending the night in cabins at NCOAE’s headquarters, the group heads out to Myrtle Grove where they’ll get a quick course in kayaking 101 and a safety briefing before paddling to Masonboro Island. There, the group will quickly set up camp, eat lunch and participate in its first Ed Group meeting, followed by free time.

And by free time, we mean (more…)

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Have any further questions about our courses, what you’ll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we’re here to help!