Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the 250th since we launched our blog in December of 2013. And what better way to mark the occasion than by publishing a post about the efficacy of outdoor and adventure-based experiential education. Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride so far. From our writers and editors to our readers and those who choose to share our posts, we appreciate the opportunity to share our expertise and experience and we look forward to continuing to do so for many years to come.
Leadership Skills, Personal Development are Backcountry Bonuses at NCOAE
By, Elizabeth Shirley, WFR, NCOAE Director of Outdoor Programming & Education
For those of us who work in adventure-based and experiential outdoor education, it’s pretty much a given that backcountry, expedition-style experiences can set students up for success in life, sometimes well beyond the expedition itself. Whether these wilderness experiences include the mountains of Alaska, the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, or the coast of North Carolina, outdoor education expeditions offer an opportunity for meaningful life experiences.
In fact, backcountry courses planned and expertly guided by The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) are intentionally designed expeditions, with a focus on leadership and personal development that goes hand in hand with learning or improving technical outdoor skills and environmental science.
The term “empower” has become a trite and ineffective word in today’s world, much like a father telling his son, “I empower you to mow the lawn.” However, there are numerous occasions during an NCOAE wilderness expedition where students are offered a variety of opportunities to step into leadership roles while in the field.
These assignments include serving as a Leader of the Day — a student charged with making sure the group stays on task and on the trail, utilizing a map and compass. The Cook of the Day guides the assigned expedition members in the preparation of meals and the subsequent cleanup. And the Gear Crew helps the group set up camp, position bear hangs, collect water, and more. Students also participate in a variety of (more…)