We have a formula here at the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) and it reads like this: Self + Community + Action = Impact.
In fact, self is the backbone of what we do at NCOAE. It involves our esteem, self-actualization and the decisions we choose to make — all of which are important because we strive to establish a strong sense of esteem in everyone who participates in one of our outdoor education courses.
No matter what the outdoor activity, we provide course participants with countless opportunities to build and reinforce self-confidence. Take backpacking, for example. Here is an opportunity to look back on the trail and say, “I did this. It is an enormous feat in autonomy.” The same holds true for course participants who navigate whitewater for the first time in a raft, or scale up a vertical rock face, or successfully tuck into a tight tube on a surfboard.
Any of these human-powered outdoor activities, when approached with confidence and a good attitude, can’t help but establish a strong sense of self. And getting to know yourself and your limits — actually understanding what it takes to battle through discomfort and arrive successfully at the other end — is a priceless commodity.
Going solo in the wilderness in a controlled scenario is another example that sets you up for successfully establishing a good relationship with yourself that can last a lifetime. Assisted by journal writings, Educational Groups and evening Process Groups, our course participants learn to dialog not only with themselves, but also with fellow students, which results in discovering yet another means of communication.
At NCOAE, we believe appropriate confidence goes a long way toward allowing you to establish a personal code of conduct, which quite frankly may be a brand new concept for some people. With that in hand, you can clearly decipher what is truly important, and define your values based on improved decision-making.
And when we say better decisions, we mean in the sense of following one’s moral compass and not being persuaded to pursue “shiny things” that can’t legitimately feed one’s happiness.
When a wilderness course participant becomes comfortable with the notion of making informed decisions (informed in what “matters to me”), they’ll find life’s path leads to peace, comfort and happiness.
The courses at NCOAE offer multiple opportunities to build on the habit of informed decision making because our instructors are well versed in staging opportunities for self-reflection and growth while participating in a group supported human-powered wilderness-based course.