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 feelings, supporting one another and being open to your own personal growth and development. Preparing for this part of an NCOAE course is more state-of-mind than anything else (in other words, there’s no practice required; just a willingness to participate and be held accountable).
Moving on, you’ll need to get comfortable with the ‘no showering’ option. Actually, that not even an option; it’s reality! Traveling in wilderness involves tradeoffs. In return for visiting some of the most amazing landscapes and seeing awesome sunrises and sunsets, you have to give a little something up, including the daily shower. Now, we’re not suggesting that you prepare for your NCOAE adventure by skipping the personal hygiene at home (no way… your parents and friends would ultimately turn on you for that). Instead, prepare yourself for the strong likelihood that you and your course mates are going to stink up from time to time and that that’s actually an okay thing.
Personal growth and development (let’s form a circle): All NCOAE courses feature daily opportunities to identify and discuss feelings, manage stress, identify and resolve conflicts, talk about civic responsibility, and develop the qualities of a leader. If you’re unwilling to engage in these and other revealing ways, you may be better off attending basketball camp. But if you’re up for a personal challenge – one that will helps you become a more self-aware and positively impactful human being – you’re already in the right space to participate in one of our courses.
Clothing (it’s not optional): There’s an old saying among mountaineers that goes something like this:
There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
In the backcountry, cotton kills. That’s because when it becomes wet – either from perspiration or rain – cotton doesn’t breath or insulate. Quite the opposite, actually… cotton retains water and sucks you dry of your body heat. As a result, you can prepare for your NCOAE teen adventure course by not buying or bringing with you cotton shirts or shorts. Pack polysynthetic materials like those found in board shorts and quick drying tops.
Get To Know The Area (geography is your friend): It may sound like school work, but we always recommend pulling out a map and getting to know the areas in which we’ll be traveling. Each of our backcountry course descriptions contain detailed information about where we’ll be. Lookup those areas online, and while you’re at it, learn a little bit about the local flora and fauna before showing up for your course.
Food (nom nom nom nom): Suffice to say, the food you’ll be consuming on the trail will be different from the meals you get at home. If you’re a big caffeine drinker, now might be the time to start weaning off the java. H2o is your friend on our courses, so replace sodas and other sugary drinks with water in advance of your trip. And while we’re talking about food, here’s a sneak peek at what participants enjoyed on a recent NCOAE backcountry adventure:
- Curry chicken burritos
- Bacon cheesy grits
- Granola and milk
- Roasted marsh mellows
- Brownies and cakes
Curious how we’re able to offer all these and other tasty treats on your course? Well – and here’s the preparation tie-in for this one – since you’ll be learning epic cooking skills using tools and utensils you’ve never seen before, you may want to spend some time in your folks’ kitchen before showing up for your NCOAE course. In addition to winning your parent’s love and admiration, you’ll be somewhat prepared for your cooking lessons on the trail.
So there you have it… some of our recommendations for how to prepare for an outdoor teen adventure with the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. If you’ve been on one of our courses and want to add to the list, leave a comment below.