NCOAE Instructs the Instructors Through Instructor Candidate Training Program

Stephen Mullaney

January 13, 2017

Without going completely overboard, we here at The National Center for Outdoor Education & Adventure Education (NCOAE) liken our popular Instructor Candidate (IC) training to a Hollywood red carpet event — without the egos or trophies.

That’s because this training attracts the best wilderness educators in the world to our North Carolina headquarters for five days of curriculum design and delivery training. It’s a time when NCOAE’s instructors get to work directly with some of the most highly qualified outdoor educators in the industry.


This “invitation only” event draws participants who have worked for other companies and schools on both the domestic and international levels. By the time they arrive on our campus for IC training, they are often looking for something different — something more meaningful.

As NCOAE instructors, we think of this educational training and refresher as a time of deep reflection and planning, striving to make each session better than the last. NCOAE has never been a “cookie cutter” organization, and that goes in particular when we are planning an itinerary.

We have lengthy, informed discussions on what needs to be changed and then we reinforce those practices that we believe should remain as staple ingredients.

During IC training, participants listen as NCOAE staff members teach our curriculum, answer questions and guide participants toward an understanding of what it takes to effectively teach and guide according to our standards. We pride ourselves on having a field staff that possesses high-level technical skills combined with the ability to teach like champions.

The feedback we receive after each IC training has always been fantastic. Participants see that we have taken an extraordinary amount of time and effort to synthesize best practices in outdoor education and expedition leadership to create programming that blows the doors off of what most organizations in the field are offering.

In a few weeks, we will host our first IC training of the New Year. At the same time we will be welcoming our new group of Education Without Walls students for their semester orientation.

If you have an interest in working with NCOAE, please check out our Outdoor Educator Courses and feel free to contact us with questions.

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About the Author: Stephen Mullaney is the staff development director at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) in Wilmington, N.C., where he is responsible for the training and education of NCOAE’s field instructors. He is a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and has taught within the Durham, N.C., public school system. Stephen received his undergraduate degree in English from Framingham State University, and an independent, alternative Masters in Education.

About the Author: Stephen Mullaney is the Director of School Partnerships at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). He has worked domestically and internationally with schools, organizations, and wilderness programs. His classrooms have ranged from dilapidated trailers at overcrowded, underfunded schools to the Himalayan mountains and everything imaginable in between. His past students include gang members/prisoners, education majors, college and university professors, and pioneers in the field out outdoor and adventure-based experiential education. Stephen’s philosophy is to focus on the development of positive working and learning environments. He brings more than a quarter of a century of education experience and understanding of human nature to any organization, whether it is an education institution or a private company. His writing has appeared in adventure sports/education journals, magazines and on the web. Stephen prefers to arrive by bicycle and sit in the dirt.

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