NCOAE Blog

Outdoor Education News Roundup

By Office Admin August 21, 2014

Conferences

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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A More Convenient Way To Receive Wilderness First Responder Training

By Office Admin August 16, 2014

Training & Certifications

NCOAE_WFR_Training_Image1It’s a well-known fact that one outdoor education industry standard for trip leaders, wilderness guides and backcountry educators who work on multi-day expeditions, is that you have to have a current and up-to-date Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training. How you satisfy that requirement is up to you.

Traditionally, the only way to earn the WFR credential was to enroll in an 80-hour course that took place over a one-and-a-half to two-week timeframe. That meant taking a leave from work, packing up your stuff, saying goodbye to your family, and driving to some random outdoor facility where you’d either camp or bunk with strangers for up to 14 days while you participated in the training. And while that format is still very popular and effective, a new approach for completing ‘woofer’ training has emerged, allowing those of us who aren’t able to commit up to two weeks away (from work and family) to receive the same training and certification.

It’s called a Wilderness First Responder & Wilderness EMT Hybrid/DLP Training (the DLP part stands for distance learning project), and it combines an approved at-home study and online testing component, followed by a four-night / five-day hands-on training here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) in Wilmington, North Carolina.

This NCOAE-sponsored course exceeds the Wilderness First Responder & WEMT Scope of Practice requirements endorsed by the Wilderness Medical Society and is eligible for Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine credits from WMS!

With this approach to receiving your Wilderness First Responder certification, you complete 30-50 hours of home study, successfully past four tests administered online (which means you need a computer and reliable broadband/high speed Internet access), and then make your way to Wilmington for the short hands-on component. (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE EMS Program Coordinator and Instructor Donald Burns

By Office Admin August 6, 2014

Staff Profiles
Donald Burns of NCOAE

Donald Burns of NCOAE

This time around in our continuing series of posts that reveal the people who work here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we’re pleased to introduce the guy who heads our emergency medical technician (EMT) program. Donald Burns coordinates our intensive 19-day EMT-Basic training schedule and everything else that has to do with equipping wilderness guides, outdoor educators, ambulance crew members, police officers, firemen, and even military specialists with the medical protocols required to help others in emergency medical situations.

Here’s Donald, in his own words:

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

Donald: I would say my senior year in high school. We were working on an end-of-year project about what we were going to do for our career. At that time I was struggling with the idea that my basketball career was over so, I went to visit my uncle at the local fire station. After the first call I was determined to be a firefighter/ paramedic and help people during their time of need. As a result, I’m now able to help NCOAE deliver quality EMT training to an audience that’s determined to learn the same craft I fell in love with back in high school.

NCOAE: Who is your role model, and why?

Donald: To me, a role model has to demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Clear set of values
  • Passion and ability to inspire
  • Commitment to community
  • Selflessness
  • Acceptance of others
  • The ability to overcome obstacles

That being said, my role models would be my parents. They’ve stood by me during all my dreams — even they turned out to be disappointments. They are always proactive in the local VFW post, and when I was a kid they made sure that we always were able to play sports and take vacations — even if that meant them working two jobs. For that I thank them, and I am proud to have them as my role models.

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

Donald: Where am I and how to I get outta here. Just kidding! To me, that time is when I reflect on my life and think about where I want to go and how I will get there. That quiet time is my time to reflect and preplan. (more…)

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Understanding the NCOAE Curriculum, Part 3

By Office Admin August 4, 2014

NCOAE Curriculum

It hasn’t been a speedy process but we continue be excited about the deep dive we’re offering up on the curriculum offered here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).

As you might recall, our last blog post on this topic covered the educational group (Ed Group) topics of feelings identification, levels of communication/relationships and defense mechanisms. This time around we’re highlighting another batch of three Ed Group topics:

  • Relaxed x Stressed creative sign with clouds as the backgroundStress management
  • Clear communication = conflict resolution
  • Civic responsibility

Keep in mind that the big takeaway from all this curricula business, is not just to teach our students skills that enable them to become better climbers, hikers, surfers and rafters — but more important, to help them develop the ability to become better human beings and world citizens.

That’s why the NCOAE curriculum specifically deals with human skills. Because, let’s face it. Even on the trail, the honeymoon eventually comes to a screeching halt. And by honeymoon, we’re talking about those first few days of a wilderness excursion. We’re not going all Kumbaya on you, but that’s the time when everybody’s bubbly and happy and getting to know each other and enjoying the views. Problem is, group dynamics change — especially on an outdoor-based adventure.

And it’s most important that our course participants, whether they be preteens or upperclassmen, acquire the tools to deal with those dynamics when they emerge. Because they will emerge on both the trail and in the world from which they came.

So let’s start with our fourth Ed Group topic, stress management:

Outside of a traumatic event, stress usually builds up gradually, so when we arrive the point in an NCOAE course where expose participants to the stress management Ed Group, we ask them to describe personal situations where stress might have raised its ugly head. We ask them to tell us how they reacted — and dealt with stress in the past.

Then we conduct a few activities that offer participants a list of “triggers” and responses to those stresses. Students participate in a timed activity that (more…)

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The Pan That Started A Backcountry Cooking Revolution

By Office Admin July 30, 2014

Wilderness Cooking

They say man only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make things stop. To that short list, we’d like to add the Banks Fry-Bake Pan — a truly lightweight frying pan that’s perfect for cooking — and baking — in the backcounry. Fact is we take at least one of these backcountry gastronomic gadgets along on every single one of our courses here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Next to a map and maybe a compass, it’s the most important tool we carry with us.

(Photo courtesy of Banks Fry-Bake Co. Used with permission.)

(Photo courtesy of Banks Fry-Bake Co. Used with permission.)

Keep in mind that we aren’t getting paid a cent for praising this product. Why then are we choosing to devote an entire blog post to it? First off, we’re doing it because we can. You know — freedom of speech and all that. But the real reason is to let our outdoor wilderness course participants — as well as outdoor and wilderness educators across the globe — know that backpacking and outdoor exploration is often a game of weights and convenience. And we can’t think of many things that are as light or as easy to use than Banks’ durable cooking pans.

But here’s what really sold us at NCOAE on the concept of carrying these pans everywhere we trek, hike, raft, climb and camp: Along with our friends over at the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, our founders and staff have been using Banks Fry-Bake pans for decades, never once disappointed by their durability and function.

There’s just something about eating in the outdoors that makes the experience almost surreal to the palate. Think about it. Where else but in the wilderness does a big can of stew taste like something from a five-star restaurant? Nowhere else, that’s where!

And with Banks Fry-Bake pans, outdoor enthusiasts and cooks alike can fry freshly caught fish, steam up a pot of veggies, stir-fry chicken, and sauté nearly anything else. You can even bake a cake, should you have a birthday boy or girl on your excursion. Talk about versatile; see the recipe for carrot cake at the end of today’s post!

What these lightweight pans do is take the place of those heavy cast-iron Dutch ovens that used to take up half the room in your (more…)

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Sign Up For Our North Carolina Leave No Trace Trainer Course

By Office Admin July 26, 2014

Training & Certifications

If you’re really interested in making the wilderness your home office, there are few programs that can get you started that are as basic and important as our Leave No Trace Trainer Course.

Leave No TraceEven if you have experience as a wilderness guide or outdoor educator, this two-day training gets you to a point where you can enthusiastically acquire, endorse and practice the seven principles that make up the successful Leave No Trace (LNT) philosophy.

Best news yet: We’ve still got space available for our Sept. 4 and 5 LTN Trainer course, which takes place in Wilmington, N.C. We’ve worked with LNT to ensure this course is ideal for educators, guides, agency employees and other outdoor education professionals. Successful graduates gain skills to teach Leave No Trace techniques and ethics to their co-workers, clients, friends and family.

Ours is a short and simple course — unlike the more advanced Master Educator LNT Training. And that’s not a bad thing, because as a result, it’s (more…)

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Get To Know The NCOAE Brand Mark

By Office Admin July 24, 2014

About NCOAE

If you look atop our website, you’ll see a unique diamond-shaped icon to the left of our organization’s name, and that new brand mark is, well, brand new to us. The name “brand mark,” by the way, is just another fancy way to say “logo,” and we’re really happy to tell you how we came up with the design.

And we say “we,” but what we mean is this: Most of the actual thinking, creativity, tweaking and artistry involved in the evolution of our new brand mark was accomplished by Juli Johnson from 360 Creative Vision, the company behind our new logo.

Most brand marks have an enormous amount of thought behind them and ours is certainly no exception.

Ask Juli and she’ll tell that our co-founders, Zac and Celine Adair, pretty much gave her free rein on the design, telling her they’d really like something that is simple and iconic. But in the same breath, Juli will also tell you that while talking with these two nature lovers, she sensed that both possess a Zen-like, spiritual attitude when it comes to anything that exists in nature.

For instance, Zac told Juli he certainly didn’t expect her to present an obligatory drawing of a pine tree on a hill. Not only would that be a reminder of a car freshener, but it seemed redundant to him in comparison to what the other businesses and organizations similar to The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) were using.

The seeds for Juli’s inspiration in the initial concept included a directional compass to illustrate adventure/outdoors, scaled back and simplified only showing the needle that points north. And an ancient symbol that represents knowledge.

NCOAE_logo_development1

Juli said her first choice was “Enso” — a simple circle shape that represents the Zen Buddhist symbol for enlightenment. In her research of this symbol — or a stylized version of it — Juli found the use of an Enso symbol had already been copyrighted by (more…)

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NCOAE And The 20 Wilderness Areas You Have to See Before You Die

By Office Admin July 21, 2014

Teen Courses

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.

Joshua-TreeNP

(Joshua Tree National Park. credit: Flickr, The City Project)

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…)

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Outdoor Educator Job Opening for Joshua Tree Course

By Office Admin July 16, 2014

Working at NCOAE

Come early October, more than 100 seventh and eighth graders — along with an experienced crew of outdoor educators from The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) — will be camping under the stars in Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

The only thing missing from this scenario are the outdoor educators, and if you meet the requirements, you could be spending Oct. 7-9 with 120 youngsters, staring up into a full moon, which, by the way, we are also providing for this particular NCOAE course.

As you’re probably learning right now, NCOAE is a well-respected source for outdoor adventure and education for teens and adults who are interested in personal growth and professional and educational development. And the three-day excursion to Joshua Tree will feature one NCOAE staff member for each teacher and 10 students.

That’s where you come in. If hired for this course, you will be responsible for facilitating a meaningful and safe outdoor education experience for some of these young outdoor explorers. What this entails is teaching specific aspects of the NCOAE curriculum — and not to worry because we’ll be providing paid training for that.

In addition, you will guide such activities as (more…)

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The Women’s Wilderness Initiative Places the Emphasis on Unwind

By Office Admin June 17, 2014

Adult Courses

Here at the National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE), we’re especially proud of our Women’s Wilderness Initiative, which enables women of nearly all ages to ditch the spouse, the kids, the job and the college coursework for a full seven days and — instead of all that — focus on themselves.

WWI-Blog-Image

Notice we didn’t use the word “pamper.” As a matter of fact, the only pampering that goes on during these weeklong wilderness excursion is mental in nature. That’s because we take care of everything. By the time you show up for our North Carolina Women’s Wilderness Initiative course, we’ve already handled the logistics. The food is purchased, the meals are prepped, the course transport van is gassed, your gear is ready and the route is already vetted and selected.

Your role on a Women’s Wilderness Initiative is to unwind from your day-to-day tasks, focus on setting personal goals, develop additional leadership skills, and have fun backpacking in the great outdoors and river rafting with a group of like-minded women.

We’re firm believers that being in the backcountry allows for a freedom that can’t be found in an urban or suburban setting. Backpacking by its very nature sets a subtle pace and we only go were our feet can take us.

Things slow down tremendously when you’re on the trail, and this allows for (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Instructor Jena Honeyman

By Office Admin May 18, 2014

Staff Profiles

Jena_HoneymanJena Honeyman was born to teach, but not in the public school system where standardization appears to have removed hope of educating the individual. That’s why Honeyman — a native of Washington State who was raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York — is a perfect fit for the staff here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Her recent experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail with friends convinced the 2011 graduate of the Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington to pursue a career that meshes the outdoors with education. She wants kids to know that they can learn and enjoy things without a bunch of money, as well as create memories to last a lifetime while preserving the world’s beauty for the next generation.

Get to know this self-described Amelia Earhart fan here, in our latest NCOAE Staff profile:

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

Jena: For starters, we have to realize that everyday is meaningful. We will all be gone soon enough, so it’s important to live while we can. When teaching in the public school sector, a student wrote me a note that pulled at my heartstrings. I realized then it wasn’t a “could do” but that “I was” impacting lives. The note referred to the interesting approach I took to teaching and thanked me for the nature walks and classes in the sunshine. We all have the ability to connect as humans in so many beautiful ways if we just allow ourselves.

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

Jena: In addition to being aware of my surroundings and safety, I wonder about random things such as… Do we have such an affinity for electronic music nowadays because we live in an age where we are so ‘linked in’ that our brains respond better to the frequency of a computer and not the soul of a bass string? Pretty random, right! And then I snap out of it and think about how I don’t want to be in love with a computer and its frequency, but instead with the soul of the artist. That’s when I realize that I’m an artist in just my walking and the way I move, and then I laugh at how ridiculous the thought is and I smile and hope I’m not the only one thinking such ridiculous things when alone on the trail.

NCOAE: What gets you excited?

Jena: SQUIRREL! Oh wait; that’s Penny my dog. But as you can sense, I’m as easily stoked as she is. Killer sunrises, sandy toes and warm coffee excite me, as does waking up to newly fallen snow — particularly of the light and fluffy variety, which is excellent for skiing. The warmth a wood stove gives off excites me (especially when tuned into the knowledge that I started, stoked and maintained that fire myself). Giving excites me. Giving a smile that creates one back or leads to laughter. Guiding someone to see a cliff, a view, or a vista and knowing that I am part of him or her forever because of that shared experience excites me.

NCOAE: On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?

Jena: You tell me… I (more…)

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For Outdoor Educators, LinkedIn is as Important as a Compass

By Office Admin May 15, 2014

Working at NCOAE

As seasonal hiring for outdoor educators draws to a close, we thought it’d be a good idea to share why it’s so important that outdoor educators use LinkedIn.

LinkedIn-LogoIf you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, it’s a professional networking website that allows its members to create and maintain online profiles with resume-like features, including job history, certifications, professional affiliations, recommendations from coworkers and previous employers, awards, educational history, and much more.

For employers, LinkedIn offers a place to post job openings and paid advertisements, and to search for potential employees. There’s a lot more to the site than that, but for the purposes of today’s post, that’s what you need to know.

With about 300 million registered users, LinkedIn has become the default online tool for professional networking. In the United States alone, around 93 million people are using LinkedIn. So don’t think for a minute that just because you work in outdoor education — where we’re known for bucking trends and ignoring technology — that LinkedIn doesn’t matter. Anytime a website attracts nearly 30 percent of the adult population, it matters!

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, we’re just as likely to search for an applicant’s online profile as we are to call for references. In other words, we take this hiring thing pretty seriously, and if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, well, that just makes us question how serious a professional you are. Think about it: Just because we’re hiring you to hike, climb, raft and guide doesn’t mean you’re not to be taken seriously.

So how should you use LinkedIn? For starters, you want to (more…)

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Why You Should Help Support Outdoor Education

By Office Admin April 22, 2014

Life At NCOAE

The novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic James Baldwin said it best when he wrote: “We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.” Those words guide us here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). Sure, we’re all about extreme adventures for teens and adults, along medical training for those interested in working in outdoor education and backcountry guiding, but at our core is a deep desire to help make the world a better place.

Through our values-based outdoor and adventure education curriculum, we’re able to foster an environment where personal growth and development flourish. But like most outdoor education programs fronted by amazing administrative staffers and outdoor educators and guides, we’re unable to do it entirely alone. That’s why — in addition to charging registration fees for our courses and trainings — we actively submit grant applications to foundations, seek gifts-in-kind, accept donations online, and encourage volunteers to share their time and expertise with our growing not-for-profit organization.

Sadly, most outdoor education programs would shutter if they had to survive on registration fees alone. It is only when registration revenue is combined with non-registration revenue (e.g., product sales) — and then augmented with grants and donations — that we find ourselves on solid financial footing.

With that in mind, we encourage you to consider outdoor education programs like NCOAE when planning your annual and seasonal giving. As we mentioned above, like many of the nation’s leading outdoor & adventure education programs, there are many ways to support what we do, including: (more…)

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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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Have any further questions about our courses, what you’ll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we’re here to help!