NCOAE Blog

Getting to the Core of the NCOAE Curriculum, Part 2

By Office Admin April 7, 2014

NCOAE Curriculum

In Part 1 of this series, we told you about the unique curriculum offered here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) and the fact that its focus is much more than just developing outdoor skills for our students and adult course participants.

dscf0031In addition to teaching how to best use nimble feet and hands to ascend a rock face, or selecting the best route around a car-sized boulder in the middle of a fast-moving river, we also like to put the educational emphasis on humanism. And empathy. And self-analysis. To encompass these traits entails mastering the skills of leading, listening and learning.

So, for this — the second installation in our series of blog posts about the NCOAE curriculum — we begin to delve into each one of our 11 Ed Group topics. And we’re going to do that in depth. In fact, we’re going to cover these topics three at a time. That way, we can take our time, explain the topics, and not overwhelm anyone.

As a refresher, at NCOAE, “Ed Group” is short for Educational Group. Our wilderness programs expose course participants to a core curriculum built upon Self, Community, Action and Impact. We factor in 11 topics to be addressed during the daily Ed Groups, and these same 11 topics are revisited for reflection during evening Process Groups (known as “The Summit”). We also have Feelings Check Ins regularly. Each day — sometimes multiple times a day — we have the group circle up for a quick  ‘Feelings Check In’, which in one or two words describes how one feels. For example, we typically have one Feelings Check In before starting an activity such as hiking or climbing.

Feelings Identification: Accurately identify our feelings is the foundation on which our curriculum is built upon. During the Feeling Identification group we establish a list of feeling words in order to have productive expression of feelings in the future. The long-term objective here is for folks to instinctively identify primary rather than secondary emotions. Here at NCOAE, we find that distinguishing between primary and secondary emotions is helpful when trying to resolve conflict, communicate personal needs, or manage risks. Here is the skinny on the two:

Imagine the layers of an onion. The inside is the core, where you often find the harder to pinpoint feelings such as (more…)

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Working Our Way Toward AEE Accreditation

By Office Admin March 24, 2014

AEE

AEEaccreditationstamp_webThere are lots of things that separate the work we do here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) from others who offer outdoor education, wilderness trips and wilderness medical training for youths and adults. For starters, unlike other many other outdoor adventure education providers, we operate using a core curriculum that researchers have proven has a positive impact on participants’ self-confidence, interpersonal relationships, and civic and environmental responsibility. In addition, both the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services and the State of North Carolina have approved us to offer an intensive 19-day EMT-Basic training curriculum.

But for those of us who work at NCOAE, that’s not enough. Like you, we demand a lot of ourselves, and as an emerging leader in our field, we want to be held accountable to standards far greater than those which we have set for ourselves. That’s why we’ve actively chosen to pursue accreditation from the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), the leading authority on standards for outdoor and adventure-based education programs in the United States and beyond.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, AEE’s Accreditation Program was conceived in the late 1980’s after a rapid increase in the number of adventure-based outdoor education programs starting popping up in the U.S. Quickly, AEE’s members and leaders alike saw the need for standards of program quality, professional behavior, and appropriate risk management.

In the mid-1990s, AEE developed the most comprehensive standards for common practices in the adventure education industry, becoming the nation’s first recognized accreditation body focused on outdoor and adventure-based education programming.

Since then, the AEE Accreditation Program’s standards-based evaluation process — which is led by AEE staff and a group of objective, independent reviewers with deep outdoor program management experience — has become the industry-accepted level of professional evaluation for programs like ours. And like any other leading organization in the field, we support these standards and are now going through the process of brining our operations into compliance with them.

The road to AEE Accreditation ensures only the best outdoor and adventure-based programs are included. Here’s an overview of the AEE Accreditation process: (more…)

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I’m Shooting in the Rain — Creation of an Outdoor Education Video

By Office Admin March 13, 2014

Staff Profiles
Matt Evans

Matt Evans

In this day and age, when practically anyone with a Smartphone can publish a video online, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. For example, consider our latest video (see below) for the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).

At first glance, this video has all the appearance of having been created on an iPhone, but don’t be fooled. That look is intentional because while great video footage looks effortless to conceptualize and create, it’s anything but.

That’s why we’re so proud of our affiliation with outdoor and adventure videographer, Matt Evans, who also just so happens to be an assistant instructor here at NCOAE. Matt graduated from college with a pair of degrees — one in filmmaking, and the other in business administration. And while both have served him well over the years, it’s the film degree that’s proven to be highly beneficial to NCOAE.

Here’s that video he created for us, and below that is our interview with Matt, focusing on the challenges and opportunities associated with shooting outdoor education video footage:

NCOAE: What are some of the challenges of shooting video footage in the backcountry?

Matt Evans: The challenges when dealing with shoots like the ones I handled for NCOAE were numerous and varied, and included finding lightweight cameras and equipment, having the proper physical space to get the shot, dealing with weather, and making sure you have an ample supply of batteries.

NCOAE: Let’s start with the batteries. How did you manage that?

Matt: When I was planning the trips that went into the creation of the video you see above (two separate 12- and eight-day trips), I knew there was no possible way to charge or change out batteries, or upload footage from the CF cards in the camera. So I actually brought six batteries into the backcountry, along with 200 GB of memory. In order to keep the batteries fresh and not waste any space, I favored shoots that were (more…)

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Plan Now To Attend Outdoor Education Conferences

By Office Admin February 21, 2014

Conferences
Volunteers who produced AEE's 38th Annual International Conference (credit: AEE).

Volunteers who produced AEE’s 38th Annual International Conference (credit: AEE).

If you’re at all interested in a career in outdoor or adventure education and just don’t know where to start, we’re here to tell you that there are whole slew of outdoor education conferences that you can attend – and other things you can do right now – to improve your chance of being hired by a quality organization like The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). For instance, you could:

  • Become certified in wilderness medicine: There are lots of organizations that provide wilderness medicine training, including NCOAE. At a bare minimum, you should have your Wilderness First Responder certification if you’re serious about working in the outdoor education field.
  • Learn about the theory of experiential education: We recommend reading Theory and Practice of Experiential Education. Published by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), this book – which is now in its 4th edition – contains everything you need to know about both the theory behind – and practice of – experiential education.
  • Join an industry membership association: All of the really great outdoor education practitioners belong to at least one industry membership or trade association. For a list of associations to consider joining, visit the NCOAE Resources page online
  • Attend an outdoor industry conference or trade show: Once you know for sure that working in outdoor and experiential education is what you want to be doing, you should plan on attending at least one outdoor industry-related conference or trade show.

And speaking of outdoor industry conferences and trade shows, here’s a short rundown of the ones we feel you should know about: (more…)

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Getting to the Core of the NCOAE Curriculum, Part 1

By Office Admin February 13, 2014

NCOAE Curriculum

When it comes to describing the course of study for a school or university, the word “curriculum” is most often used, and it traditionally references all of the courses offered at a particular institution.

ncoae-teen-adventure-courses

Curriculum has been described as “a path for students to follow,” which is actually fitting when you think about the backcountry activities that are so paramount to our offerings.

What makes that term specific to The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) is that — while our emphasis is on skills related to backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and surfing — our curriculum doesn’t stop with those outdoor and technical skills.

Unlike many outdoor adventure and education programs, our core curriculum also has a focus on what we call “human” skills, with goals of providing a positive impact on our students’ leadership, communication and their civic and environmental responsibilities. By expanding our understanding of the word curriculum, we’re using experiential education to give our students what is sometimes called “action learning.”

What we’re most proud of is offering relevant and fulfilling educational experiences for youth and adults that are current, effective and  rewarding. Our custom curriculum is based on experiential education, which means we value the process of learning actively and hands-on. We use activities and curricula that are problem-based and collaborative. The curriculum encourages our course participants to merge their new outdoor experience with their previous life experiences in order to confront and challenge “obstacles” and find solutions.

Our wilderness programs expose NCOAE course participants to a core curriculum, built upon Self, Community, Action and Impact. We factor in 11 topics to be addressed during the daily Educational Groups (known as “Ed Groups”), and these same 11 topics are revisited for reflection during evening Process Groups (known as “The Summit”).

Outdoor skills are related to students the moment they hit the trail and continue throughout the entire course. Our instructors take full advantage of (more…)

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NCOAE Is Hiring

By Office Admin February 8, 2014

Working at NCOAE

NCOAE-Job-ApplicationIf you’ve spent any amount of time surfing our website or reading this blog, you know that working at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) is more than just a job. It’s a reward.

Working at NCOAE is a reward for many things, including: superior performance elsewhere; having a keen understanding of emotional intelligence and its impact on group dynamics; and, successfully teaching and guiding youths and adults in remote wilderness locations. Along the way, those who master technical outdoor skills – as evidenced by earning highly sought after certifications from organizations like the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the American Canoe Association (ACA) – also find that their hard work and dedication is potentially rewarded with an opportunity to work at The National center for Outdoor & Adventure Education.

In other words, working as an NCOAE outdoor educator, instructor or administrative staffer isn’t possible for everyone who applies. Instead, our employment openings – some of which are referenced below – are only available for the best of the best.

Currently, we’re actively pursuing applicants for these upcoming NCOAE job openings:

  • NCOAE Course Director (This position oversees the safety, quality, and educational effectiveness of all of NCOAE courses. Your primary responsibilities in this job include: supervising and evaluating instructors, managing technical sites/activities, and overseeing all logistics of NCOAE courses in the field. That’s it? No, there’s more to this position than just that, of course; so for more information and a full job description, send an email of inquiry to hr@ncoae.org.)
  • NCOAE Lead Instructor (This position is responsible for helping to manage the safety and wellbeing of all NCOAE students, and actively co-instructs while in the field. To learn more about this position, please send an email of inquiry to hr@ncoae.org.)
  • NCOAE Assistant Field Instructor (As do all NCOAE wilderness instructor positions, this opportunity requires that you have a very solid understanding and knowledge of the inherent risks associated with backcountry travel in remote wilderness settings with groups, and that you have your Wilderness First Responder [WFR] and Leave No Trace [LNT] certifications. Learn more by sending an email message of inquiry to hr@ncoae.org.)

The hiring process here at NCOAE is fairly straightforward. You start by (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Staff Trainer and Co-instructor, Jill Valle

By Office Admin February 4, 2014

Staff Profiles

Editor’s Note: The work we do here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) matters because positive and profoundly empowering experiences are created when people choose to engage with themselves and one another in unique wilderness settings. With that in mind, we’re going to use our blog to introduce you to some of the very talented and highly skilled team members here at NCOAE who administer and guide our unique wilderness experience.

And here to start things off is Jill Valle, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Boston College and her master’s in counseling psychology from Lesley University. She is a licensed mental health counselor in Massachusetts and is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Jill is also an outdoor educator and artist who has worked with adolescents and adults for the past 15 years. She adamantly believes that the power of creativity and the wilderness can foster growth and empowerment in individuals and groups. 

But don’t take out word for it… here’s Jill, in her own words:

NCOAE: Tell us about a time when you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

ncoae-team_jill-vJill: When I was in college I was doing an internship in the inner city. It was a program that worked with at risk kids, helping them develop the skills to apply for, interview for and secure jobs in the community. I was most inspired by watching the students go through this process — the power of simply connecting with kids and allowing them to feel heard and seen, and supporting them in making a difference in their lives.

NCOAE: What was your guiding light in choosing to work as an outdoor educator instead of choosing a career such as a lawyer, computer tech, business management, etc?

Jill: It wasn’t really a choice – I couldn’t imagine doing more “conventional” nine-to-five work. The guiding force was a drive to do work that was meaningful, inspiring, transformative and healing – all of which I find in outdoor education

NCOAE: What influenced your decision to work for NCOAE?

Jill: Celine Adair – NCOAE’s co-founder and operations director – and I met while facilitating outdoor education experiences for Maui Surfer Girls in Hawaii. Our connection was instant and our chemistry while leading groups together was natural, authentic and transformational for us and for our participants. NCOAE’s mission and vision aligns with my philosophy about learning, growth, development and life in general and it is a privilege to be a part of the team.

NCOAE: What do you think about when you are alone on the trail?

Jill: I think about the beauty around me, the gratitude I have for being outdoors, the miraculous ability of my body to carry me through this world. Sometimes I think about nothing except the sound of my breath. Sometimes my mind wanders. Sometimes I am fully in the moment with the sights, sounds, creatures I may encounter along the path. I think about how amazing the quiet can be and I listen. I listen for the deep murmuring of my heart and soul. Some of my best inspirations, ideas, and insights come to me when I am alone on the trail.

NCOAE: What gets you excited?

Jill: Tapping into creative energy and getting out of the way to let it move through me. There’s taking photographs and making art, a delicious meal shared with family and friends, road trips, spontaneous adventures, surfing, yoga, laughing long and hard, being outdoors in nature, train travel, thinking up my next (more…)

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How To Prepare For A Teen Adventure Course

By Office Admin February 1, 2014

Teen Courses
Whitewater rafting for teens in North Carolina

Captioned Image…

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…)

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AEE Announces Spring Regional Conference Lineup

By Office Admin January 29, 2014

AEE

AEE_logoIf you’re interested in advancing your career in outdoor and adventure-based experiential education, you really should attend one of AEE’s 2014 regional conferences. AEE (which stands for Association for Experiential Education) is a professional membership association with roots in adventure education that’s committed to the development, practice, and evaluation of experiential learning in all settings. And the organization’s regional conferences – which take place each spring between March and May – offer truly awesome and exceptional professional development opportunities for outdoor and adventure-based educators.

For those of us who work at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), AEE’s lineup of regional conferences offers us the opportunity to:

  • Network with others in our field
  • Expand our understanding of topics related to the work we perform
  • Stimulate our professional curiosity and programmatic creativity
  • See lots of old friends and colleagues
  • Make new friends (enough to last a lifetime)

This year, AEE is offering spring conferences in seven geographical regions across the U.S., including: (more…)

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Here’s Why We Love Logan LaPlante, And Why You Should Too!

By Office Admin January 25, 2014

NCOAE Curriculum

After recently watching 13-year-old Logan LaPlante discussing his concept of learning during a TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event in Nevada, our co-founders Zac and Celine Adair jokingly said they want to adopt this self-proclaimed hacker of education.

Young Logan spoke before an audience at the University of Nevada last February, where he discussed the disconnect between education and happiness. The theme of his 11-minute talk – which you can watch via the YouTube embed below – rang true for Zac and Celine, who developed the curriculum here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). That curriculum, which we’ll be blogging about in the weeks and months to follow, promotes self, community, action and impact for teens and adults alike.

Wearing a ski cap and the confidence of a veteran circuit speaker, this home-taught youngster who is barely a teen-ager, told the TEDx audience that much of what passes for education is oriented toward making a living rather than making a life. Then he asked, “What would happen if we based education on the study and practice of being happy and healthy?”

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, Celine reminds us that NCOAE’s outdoor and adventure education offerings are designed with improvement in self-actualization, decision-making, and esteem, communication, teamwork, civic responsibility and environmental stewardship in mind.

Equally important is the fact that our course participants have the (more…)

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NCOAE Receives Approval for EMT-Basic Training

By Office Admin January 21, 2014

Training & Certifications

We’re pleased to announce that The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) has received approval from the State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services to offer an intensive 19-day EMT-Basic training.

NCOAE_EMS_EMT-B_horz_logoAnd what that means to anyone interested in securing their EMT-Basic credentials is that within three weeks of starting our intensive training, you’ll have the knowledge and experience to successfully pass the National Registry exam as well as North Carolina’s state exam, earning your EMT credentials.

After that, you’ll have the option of staying with us for an additional five days for a practical session and certification of the Wilderness Upgrade. This certifies you as an EMT-B and WEMT from the Wilderness Medicine Training Center.

With your EMT credentials in hand, you’ll have an opportunity to enter a field that the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims is a “growing occupation.” Most certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs) find immediate employment at hospitals and ambulance companies, and many work for police or fire departments, receiving the same benefits as firemen and policemen — including pensions.

The median salary for an EMT is $27,070 per year, with entry-level employees averaging $17,300 and the top 10 percent earning $45,280.

There are three levels of EMT training:

  • Basic EMT
  • EMT-Advanced
  • EMT-Paramedic

Students working toward the Basic EMT (a.k.a. EMT-B) credential here at NCOAE study patient assessment, the principals of pharmacology, BLS resuscitation, and participate in (more…)

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NCOAE and The Blogosphere

By Office Admin December 22, 2013

Blog

panacea-wilderness-teen-adventure-courseWelcome to The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) Blog. There’s an unspoken rule in the blogosphere that says we’re obligated to post a “welcome to our blog” entry, so we’ll play along (we wouldn’t want to upset the balance of the interweb by not playing by such geeky rules).

Those of us who conceived of NCOAE and are responsible for its daily operation have been reading blogs for quite a while now. And quite frankly, we’ve been struck by the lack of information on the blogosphere focused on outdoor and adventure-based experiential education. As an organization led by experts in experiential education, backcountry and wilderness guiding, and the successful facilitation of a core curriculum that emphasis teamwork, environmental stewardship and the acquisition of technical skills, we felt it was time for us to add our voice to the ongoing dialogues that shape our industry.

As most people know by now, a blog affords us the opportunity to reach out into the community more often, thereby making our thoughts and ourselves available to more of you. Over the weeks, months and years to follow, our staff will use this blog to share:

  • The latest NCOAE news and developments
  • Special offers on upcoming NCOAE Courses and Trainings
  • Interviews with successful students and course participants
  • Info on opportunities for non-NCOAE professional development
  • Staff interviews/spotlights
  • Curated content of interest to our many stakeholders
  • Insights into the NCOAE curriculum
  • Our latest job openings
  • Details about items that are on promotion or sale in our online store
  • And much, much more!

Blogging is a two-way street. Each NCOAE blog post will include an opportunity for you – our stakeholders – to leave a comment, ask a question, tell us why you disagree with something we’ve written, or sound off on a topic that’s really important to you. Simply click the Comment link at the end of any entry to get started.

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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!