What happens when someone answers the call to outdoor adventure and enrolls in a wilderness education, outdoor education, or backcountry expedition like the ones we offer at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE)?
They’re pretty much guaranteed they’ll be engaged in an experience that involves adventure, challenges, and fun, but most important — learning. I mean, just do the math: “Adventure” and “Education” is at the tail end of our name.
Our Educational Framework (see below) is the basis for what we do within the practice of outdoor education, just as the Experiential Learning Cycle itself defines how we do it, and our Theory of Change explains why we do it.
At NCOAE, we are undeniably invested in teaching technical outdoor skills, the science of applying risk management to wilderness and backcountry expeditions, and planning and logistics — the cornerstones of living safely and in relative comfort during an adventure-based expedition. Our course areas are spread across the globe and provide a unique context to engage in lessons on environmental stewardship and Leave No Trace’s principles of outdoor ethics. However, one of the top areas upon which we focus during an NCOAE expedition is leadership.
Our students are guided to process, generalize, and apply what they are experiencing during an NCOAE program, with the ultimate objective of (more…)
What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, we’re expanding our outdoor educator-training program on a global scale and announcing a month-long training expedition that culminates in a Thanksgiving celebration in Patagonia — a remote region at the southernmost end of South America that is shared by Argentina and Chile.
That’s a large leap from our outdoor educator training programs in North Carolina on the Eastern seaboard and Oregon and California out West. But we’re excited to be spreading our wings, and we’re even going a step further by planning a second overseas training expedition next spring — this time to Kenya for a 33-Day Outdoor Educator Instructor Training – East Africa.
But first, back to our Patagonia training. The 31-Day Outdoor Educator Instructor Training – Patagonia is co-ed and targets college students, classroom teachers and novice outdoor educators who are 18 years and older. Tuition is just $6,600. We fly from Houston, Tex., and land in Santiago, Chile, where our local team has already worked out an invigorating itinerary.
Chile is a land of extremes, from the snow-capped volcanoes of Patagonia and dizzying heights of the Andes, to the driest desert on earth and the extensive southern glacial fields. We’ll be exploring some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the world, and we’ll see it with fellow explorers who have the same enthusiasm and zeal for the outdoors and education that you do.
And when it comes to gaining the experience and knowledge to become an outdoor educator, there are few better “classrooms” than Patagonia and the (more…)
Nothing makes us happier here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) than meeting up with three busloads of seventh and eighth graders in a wilderness area and then teaching them about how to get along in an outdoor setting — in this case Joshua Tree National Park with its breathtaking sandstone rock formations monuments.
Last month, a group of our instructors from both the East and West Coasts participated in a three-day outing with 123 students from the famed Wildwood School in Los Angeles. These youngsters participated in what they and their teachers described afterwards as an incredible experience.
Our co-founder and director of operations, Celine Adair, was there and said these “super smart Wildwood students,” joined 34 adults in setting up 52 tents in a base camp that became a theater of sorts, complete with two special sunsets, seven great meals, an orchestra performance by about a dozen coyotes each night, and topped off with a full-moon lunar eclipse with a few shooting stars tossed into the astronomical mix.
During the three-day outing, the Wildwood group participated in environmental studies, including learning the phases of the moon — very appropriate for the eclipse — local ecology and water use conservation.
They also broke up into smaller groups to learn about levels of communication, stages of relationships, and to discuss the best ways to identify and discuss feelings. Finally, they also learned outdoor skills, such as setting up a shelter, keeping warm, fire safety, hydration, hygiene and how to get found if lost.
Wildwood’s staff tells us they were (more…)
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.
In 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…)
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.
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…)