Outdoor Education News

Environmentalist Extraordinaire Recalled in Magazine Eulogy

By Office Admin December 4, 2014

Outdoor Education News
(© John Blaustein Photography -

(©2004 John Blaustein Photography

For those of us who treasure the wilderness and want to preserve every pristine particle in it, the death late last month of Martin Litton was a bit jolting. Sure, he was 97 years old and certainly lived what eulogies often refer to as “a full life.”

And by that, we’re talking about a controversial outdoorsman who filled that life with stints as a LA Times reporter, WWII glider pilot, nature photographer, river runner, curmudgeonly conservationist and devout environmentalist.

By comparison, Martin Litton makes the equally grey-bearded “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercial character look like an Iowa accountant.

National Geographic contributor Kenneth Brower recently wrote a glowing description of Litton, an environmental pioneer who, as a sideline, founded his own dory fleet business, running rivers in boats of his own design. (Fun fact: Litton holds the record as the oldest man to row the Grand Canyon, which he did at the age of 87.)

Brower’s must-read piece for National Geographic waxes poetic on the accomplishments of this amazing man. Below are a few highlights:

  • It was Litton who first understood the damage that a Marble Canyon Dam would inflict on Grand Canyon National Park.
  • It was Litton who uncovered U.S. Forest Service mismanagement of the giant sequoias of California.


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Historic Outdoor Education Center Camp Waskowitz Gets a Major Facelift

By Office Admin October 17, 2014

Outdoor Education News

camp-waskowitzEarlier this month, 325 volunteers descended on Camp Waskowitz, a historic outdoor education center and former Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp located south of Seattle, Wash.

These volunteers — organized by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association — didn’t come empty handed. They carried ladders and saws and hammers and nails and paint buckets and brushes.

And in a matter of 10 hours, they completed 20 major projects at this 67-year-old complex — a task that would have taken the camp staff more than five years to accomplish on their own.

Roberta McFarland, the director of Camp Waskowitz, said she felt like the camp had won the lottery. She said the real estate association contacted her nine month ago and asked for a wish list of things that needed to be done. And she complied.

How’s this for a to-do list:

  • Stain the cabins, council hall and lookout tower
  • Relocate a large deck to the other side of the council hall
  • Refurbish numerous benches and picnic tables
  • Repair trails and install trail gates
  • Install an ADA ramp to the nurse and staff building
  • Construct a 150-square-foot greenhouse to grow tree seedlings
  • Remove extensive, non-native, invasive plants
  • Place 200 tons of crushed rock on walkways and parking lots

Built in 1935 as a temporary facility for the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corp, the original buildings at Camp Waskowitz are still heavily used today. It is a state and national historic preservation site and one of only two (more…)

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Mark Udall on Outdoor Education and Politics

By Office Admin October 10, 2014

Outdoor Education News

Mark-Udall-Outdoor-EducationTo those of us who have worked in the outdoor education field for 20 years or more — or who know the history of our practice and its people — the name Mark Udall rings a familiar sounding bell. Most people nowadays know Mark Udall as the senior U.S. Senator from Colorado whose family’s role in politics, especially in the western part of the United States, spans over 100 years.

But upon closer inspection, it’s not very difficult to tell that Udall is one of us, or said different, that that he used to be one of us and not in some slightly insignificant way. That’s because right there on his Wikipedia entry, Mark Udall lists Outward Bound instructor as his primary job title. We don’t know about you but we think that’s pretty cool and refreshing to see, especially when almost 50% of the members of Congress list “lawyer” as their occupation.

Why point this out? Because Rock & Ice magazine recently ran a profile of Udall in which the 6-foot 5-inch uber legislator calls our attention to the significant role outdoor education can play in our lives. You see, Udall used to run the Colorado Outward Bound School — as in, he was its executive director during one of the organization’s largest growth spurts — and now he’s one of the most powerful and influential people in the United States.

Have a look at what Mark Udall has to say about what he’s learned along the way, and how his career in outdoor education has helped make him the person he is today: (more…)

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New Research Focuses on The Impact of Face Time Versus Screen Time

By Office Admin September 19, 2014

Outdoor Education News

According to research we’ve recently discovered, children ages 8–18 now spend seven-and-a-half hours a day, seven days a week, using screens outside of the classroom. Those ages 12–17 use their phones to text message on a daily basis more than any other form of communication, including face-to-face interactions with peers, parents and others in their community.

And the trend is only growing. In the last two years alone, teen use of screens (think smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) has increased five-fold. For an organization like The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, these findings present both challenges and opportunities.

When grade schoolers and teens enroll in our adventure-based, outdoor education-focused backcountry courses, we inform them ahead of time that tablets and phones are not approved for use during backcountry travel. On the opportunity side of that equation, we find the same outcomes that researchers from UCLA recently did when they conducted an experiment that examined whether increasing opportunities for face-to-face interaction during an outdoor education program — while eliminating the use of screen-based media and communication tools — improved nonverbal emotion–cue recognition in preteens.

From a write up in The Wall Street Journal:

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, wondered if all screen time might be affecting children’s ability to read emotions in others. To find out, they took advantage of a rustic science-education program, 70 miles east of L.A., which doesn’t permit students to use electronic devices. (more…)

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Outdoor Education News Roundup

By Office Admin August 21, 2014


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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