From Couch Potato to Hiker in Just 4 to 6 Weeks

By Stephen Mullaney April 16, 2021


Apparently, I spent three quarters of last year and a quarter of this year mostly sitting on the couch. I held a beverage in one hand, chips, cheese and crackers in the other (and yes, I can hold that much).

Adding new meaning to the term “binge-watching,” I viewed dozens of subtitled, multi-season detective series from every nation in NATO — all of which I wouldn’t have sat through in the years leading up 2020. Sound familiar to you?

OK. Maybe your pandemic parade didn’t include as many snacks, and maybe you were watching adventure films while wearing your climbing harness on the couch, a rack of gear on the floor. That sound more likely?

But it’s possible that in either scenario, you never pulled back your window curtain to notice the outdoors is still there, just waiting for you to emerge. It’s time to get out from under the duvet, lose the pajama bottoms, and be outdoors more than you’ve been indoors and on your couch over the last 12 months or so.

You probably aren’t in as good of shape as you think

It’s also time to come to terms with reality. You’ve been marinating on a couch for more than a year now. If you were climbing 5.10 early last year, chances are you aren’t doing that now. The living room furniture has become a leech of progress and fitness.

The solution? Allow us to help you see how easy it is to get out of the house and onto the trail for a multi-day backpacking trip.

Most couch-to-5k programs are nine weeks long. However, the guide we put together below is only six weeks. And if you’re willing, you can probably knock that down to four weeks. Why? Because training can get boring. And if you get bored while training, you may never make it to the trail. We here at NCOAE want you on the trail.

So, what we’ve put together below is a guide. It’s not a program. It’s not a plan. Because if we can’t make it fun, you might just remain on the couch, reading subtitles and thinking you speak Swedish.

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Returning to School? We Want to Help you Safely Opt Out(side)

By Stephen Mullaney February 20, 2021


In recent weeks, we’ve all been hearing more and more from parents, educators, and even the nation’s top disease experts on the impending opening of schools across the nation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has suggested that school districts developing their plans for campus reopening should find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. Fauci said that could include everything from outdoor classes, to recess, and lunchtime.

Plans for just when and how schools will reopen are being formulated and fine-tuned, and the consensus seems to be that being outside is the safest place to be during the instructional day. As states start to mandate returns to school, safety and quality of education are at the forefront of design.

Obviously, you’ll get no argument about that from those of us here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). And we have some suggestions. But first, here are the questions we are hearing most often from you.

Why move outdoors?

Doctor Fauci already told us that spending time outdoors is safer during times of infectious diseases, and we’re puzzled why some schools forget that being outside is often best for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Studies have shown that, in districts with high numbers of second language students, learning outdoors is (more…)

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Tips for Participating in EMT Training Online

By NCOAE Headquarters June 3, 2020

EMT Training

You might have heard that we have packed up and moved the first 14 days of our traditional June, July and August “Intensive” 19-Day EMT-B training courses to an online and at-home format. The reason for this change, of course, is the continuing saga of the coronavirus.

What this modification essentially does is add a mandatory hybrid component to this 19-day training program, with 14 days online, followed by five days on campus for practical and hands-on skills training. Earlier this year, the North Carolina Office of EMS approved our adjusted schedule for five days of on-campus EMT training programs.

(Photo credit: Andrew Neel — sourced on Unsplash)

Meanwhile, all NCOAE medical training programs taking place outside North Carolina have been put on hold, and the summer sessions on campus in Wilmington, N.C., remain on schedule, but with the hybrid component playing a major part of that training.

Which raises several important questions, including:

  1. How do we successfully train future emergency medical technicians remotely in this emergency era of digital space?
  2. How does a potential NCOAE trainee become a great online learner?

Just like everything else connected to COVID-19, this is brand new territory for all of us, and trial-and-error has become the name of the game. That said, we here at NCOAE have come up with some rules and procedures for those in training that, to date, have proven successful. And we will briefly outline those procedures toward the end of this post.

But for now, we’d like to share what we’ve discovered in our effort to make the temporary transition to digital training effective, interesting, and productive. What advice can we offer to those students new to online learning who are participating in our Hybrid 19-Day ‘Intensive’ EMT (EMT-B) training program? Here’s what we learned:

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Using Collective Impact to Forge a Path Forward with Coronavirus

By NCOAE Headquarters May 22, 2020

NCOAE Recommends

Because of the situation with COVID-19, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about the path forward for outdoor and adventure-based programs like the ones we offer here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). Specifically, how do we operate in a day and age where physical distancing is either required or strongly recommended? That’s where Collective Impact may come into play.

The concept of Collective Impact takes into consideration the notion that industry players need to coordinate their efforts and work together in order to create lasting solutions to shared and common societal challenges and problems.

Put simply, collective impact is a structured form of collaboration. The term garnered national recognition in 2011 when it was touted by the White House Council for Community Solutions as a powerful framework for solving social issues. The concept became so popular that “collective impact” was selected as among the top philanthropic “buzzwords” for that year.

With the current conundrum of coronavirus facing our world today, we here at NCOAE are of the opinion that solutions for COVID-19-related issues from any qualified source is worth considering. And, if you or your organization is of the same mind, we would love to hear from you. We can listen to each other’s challenges and maybe we can help each other discover solutions to those problems associated with operating an outdoor and/or adventure-based program in the time of coronavirus.

Since this crisis evolved in mid-February, we have been working up schedules and then reworking them. And, because our work crosses into many sectors — including schools, businesses, and government agencies — and because we deal with multiple states and international borders, we find ourselves dealing with a lot of moving parts.

The good news, of course, is that our staff has evolved to become a finely tuned machine. We’re able to juggle a lot and do it well. But that still leaves us wondering how the greater outdoor and adventure education industry may be grappling with the same or similar challenges as we’re contending with.

As most successful adventurers and explorers do, we set out to do some research. And here is some of what we’ve discovered so far: (more…)

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Finding Adventure in Education That’s Taught Online

By Stephen Mullaney April 28, 2020

Experiential Education

So, here we all sit, settling into another sequential week of sequestered sheltering and supreme seclusion, many of us working from home and many of us not. As a certified teacher with a license in EC, ESL, AIG and Classroom Education, and as a member of The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) leadership team, I admit I was caught off balance by the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes, named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Like getting smacked upside the head by a wayward surfboard.

This stay-at-home edict forced me to search, find, and deliver a completely new approach to educating my students. And I had zero time to waste. There were students to contact. More important — I had to learn ways to communicate with them face to face and get them engaged through online platforms. And I felt the pressure to do all of this ASAP!

I quickly discovered that my side was already behind — and hindered by handicaps. The major hurdle? I have never owned a cell phone. Essentially, I’m a caveperson. Then I remembered what it is we outdoor and adventure educators constantly preach to our students: Step out of your comfort zone and adapt in the time of coronavirus.

It was time for me to do just that. Over the first few weeks operating under shelter in place orders, I learned how to use Zoom for video conferencing and Google classroom for creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. I also quickly adapted and learned how to use additional online platforms to connect with students, co-workers, and community members. And through this process, I learned that our new and hopefully temporary wilderness is the Internet, where we continue the exploration of creativity and the delivery of instruction. 

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Adapting Outdoor Education in the Time of Coronavirus

By NCOAE Headquarters April 7, 2020


Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we’re known nationally and around the world for our consistency in producing highly impactful backcountry climbing, backpacking, kayaking and other outdoor adventures of an educational and team-focused nature. Our highly trained and experienced outdoor educators, field guides — along with our wilderness medicine and EMT instructors — present hands on training and guidance that vastly improve our students’ technical outdoor and wilderness medical skills.

That’s because all of our instructors and guides are experts at adapting to every scenario — whether that’s in a wilderness or urban setting, presenting each of our students and participants with endless opportunities to not only succeed, but to excel at whatever obstacle confronts them on the trail or in the medical training field guides.

COVID-19 Outdoor Education

To that end, our business currently finds itself in the same situation faced by every other educational organization on the planet: managing our affairs at a time when the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is impacting every single aspect of the world economy. How we’re handling the problem is much like what we do on the trail. We’ve chosen to look at this uncertainty and chaos as an opportunity by seeking out the best solutions and maneuvering around and past what is undoubtedly nothing short of a global health catastrophe. In particular, we want you to know how we’re meeting the challenges with regard to our educational training and programming.

For example: (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!