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…)
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…)
We here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education are starting off the summer with some truly great news. Beginning in June, we’ll be offering students who successfully participate in any of our Teen Adventure courses the opportunity to earn high school credit.
This most excellent announcement is the result of the NCOAE curriculum having just now receiving the seal of approval from Blueprint Education — a private nonprofit accrediting body.
Founded in 1969, Blueprint is an accredited distance learning school for grades 7 through 12 with the primary mission of inspiring students to make better choices and to be champions of their own learning. Blueprint itself is accredited by AdvancED, the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation & School Improvement (NCA CASI), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
And as a result of this latest announcement, all NCOAE Teen Adventures are eligible for qualifying high school credit from Blueprint Education. Each and every one of these credits are elective and available in the following categories:
- Physical Education: For having learned about and shown proficiency in mountaineering, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, alpine, or backpacking activities during an NCOAE Teen Adventure course
- Outdoor Leadership: For having learned about and shown proficiency in interpersonal development, small group dynamics, critical thinking, decision making, and more during an NCOAE Teen Adventure course.
- Environmental Studies: For having learned about and shown proficiency in water conservation, astronomy, environmental sustainability sustainability, Leave No Trace (LNT), cycle of rain clouds, oceanography and more during an NCOAE Teen Adventure course.
Students can earn .5 or 1.0 Carnegie Units (credit hours) for each topic depending on how many hours were put into teaching each one. Our staff has its pencils out, doing the math on how hours will be taught for each class and how that matches up with state and national standards. (more…)
The Wilderness Society — which is way up there near the top of the list for conservation organizations working to protect our nation’s shared wildlands — recently released its list of 20 wilderness areas to see before you die.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s Wilderness Act, which protects more than 750 wildland areas for public enjoyment, the Wilderness Society came up with its own countdown of Top 20 wilderness areas that everyone should visit before they die.
And after reviewing this impressive bucket list of wilderness destinations, some of us here at the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) did the math and discovered that five of these wildland destinations just happen to be “classrooms” where we often operate some of our wilderness expeditions. That’s a whopping quarter of the list — 25 percent to be exact!
Below, we’ve listed the Wilderness Society’s 20 prime destinations and we’ve placed asterisks next to the locations where we operate our own wildland programs:
- Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, Oregon
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness, Florida
- Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness, New Mexico
- Joshua Tree Wilderness, California *
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
- Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, Colorado
- Zion Wilderness, Utah
- Death Valley Wilderness, California
- Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona
- Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness, Hawaii *
- Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California *
- Yosemite Wilderness, California
- Olympic Wilderness, Washington
- Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico
- Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho
- Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho
- Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
- Teton Wilderness, Wyoming *
- Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire
- Mollie Beattie Wilderness, Alaska *
Lists are nice and orderly, but what we’d like to do here is present a pretty picture of our particular prime pristine public parkland properties:
Joshua Tree Wilderness, California: We’re running a custom course for a private California-based school’s 7th and 8th graders in Joshua Tree in October. What these youngsters can expect is an area of fascinating rock formations in an area that is the convergence of Colorado and the Mojave deserts where the Joshua tree thrives. Joshua Tree is also the hometown of five palm-shrouded oases that attract tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, kangaroo rats and burrowing owls. And at night, you can’t beat the stars.
Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California: We’re currently planning a fall 2015 course in this wilderness area, which runs the gamut of outdoor natural formations, ranging from (more…)
If you’re thinking about enrolling in a Teen Adventure Course and you’re wondering how to prepare, then this blog post is for you!
It’s a daily occurrence here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). Someone calls or writes to ask how should they prepare for one of our courses. And while enrolling and paying is a great start, there’s more to it than just that.
Below, we present a 30,000-foot overview of how to prepare for an outdoor adventure-based course offered by NCOAE.
Physical Fitness (‘drop and give me 20!’ NOT): While our courses never involve forced marches (we leave those ‘experiences’ to the military), you should be able to handle a serious of strenuous hikes over consecutive days. A good rule of thumb… place four gallon-jugs of water into a backpack and take a walk around your neighborhood. If you find it difficult to carry that amount of weight for more than five to 10 minutes, you’ll need to build some strength and endurance before showing up for your course. Four gallons of water, it turns out, weighs roughly 35lbs, which is just about equal to the weight of the gear you’ll be carrying on one of our teen adventure courses. If water isn’t your thing, here’s a short list of other ‘stuff’ that weighs approximately 35lbs:
- 7 reams of copy paper
- 560 pencils
- 3,350 pennies
- 3,175 nickels
- 7,000 dimes
- 2,800 quarters
- 7 five-pound bags of potatoes
At the end of each day on the trail, you and your course mates will be able to dump your packs and rest before gathering yourselves up to helping to prepare that night’s campsite and meal (which is another way of saying that once that 35lbs is off your back, there’s still some work left to do).
Fear not… if the 35lb thing turns you off or seems too strenuous, we offer a number of courses where the physical requirements aren’t as high (and for younger kids, your can throw the 35lb rule-of-thumb thing out the window). Give our office a call at (910) 399-8090 to learn which of our courses is right for you.
Comfort Zone (let’s step out of it): Participating in an NCOAE adventure involves more than strapping on a backpack and trekking over and alongside scenic trails, peaks and waterways. Being willing to step out of your physical and emotional comfort zone is a must when traveling in a group of 10-12 of your peers. This means sharing your (more…)
Looking for a teen expedition this summer? We here at NCOAE are excited to announce that our 2022 season of backcountry and wilderness adventures for teen-agers is already up and running and in full swing.
At the end of February, a dozen students led by a team of NCOAE field instructors, headed down to Ecuador for a cultural immersion and rafting adventure. For those of us on the administrative side of things, couldn’t wait for the students experience the Palugo Farm — a sustainable organic farm that feeds 30 families each week.
To be sure, we have a busy season ahead, with backcountry adventurers to be found anywhere, from paddling in the Everglades to rafting Oregon’s beautiful Three Sister’s wilderness, as well as backpacking all around Pisgah’s National Forest.
Any of this sound good to you? Are you looking to step out of your comfort zone this summer? We still have openings on many of our summer teen leadership expeditions. It’s an opportunity to learn what it takes to navigate the backcountry, push your limits with new activities, and make life-long friends as you work together to cultivate the adventure you never knew you needed.
With activities that include backcountry cooking, campsite set-up, compass and map navigation, Leave No Trace training, as well as exposure to the NCOAE curriculum, you’ll leave the backcountry feeling accomplished and ready for more.
Spend seven days rafting down the (more…)