The Longer the Course, The Better the Experience

Office Admin

April 08, 2016

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we offer a wide range of outdoor education and adventure courses, ranging in length from a week to an entire semester. And what that does is offer our students a choice based on their particular circumstances, interests and needs.

By offering dozens of adventures from which to choose, students can easily find a course that fits their schedules, skill levels and price. I think it’s pretty well guaranteed that no matter the length of the adventure, you will have an incredible time. Further, you will be offered a great learning opportunity and most likely attain goals and outcomes that you never dreamed possible.


However, I have a bias. And as our staff development director and an instructor, I have every right to have an opinion, based on years of observation. And that bias is this: I believe the longer the course, the better the experience.

I base this assessment on a number of factors, not the least is an opportunity for me to get to know students on a deeper level. Given just a few days on the trail, an instructor is not going to gain a deep understand of a student’s assets, resources and the talents he or she might bring to the course.

Using what I observe in the students, I can incorporate that information into strengthening the community in the field, sharpening the skills they’ll take home with them. The transference of social skills, technical skills, leadership techniques and practice are also enhanced the longer the adventure.

On these longer courses, students tell me they become more comfortable in a wilderness setting and learn with a more open mind. Students say they are also able to act upon what they discover about themselves, their community, their choice of actions and the impact they have on deeper levels.

Simply put, the biggest difference between lengths of courses is how deep you’re willing to invest in your discovery of self, adventure and exposure to NCOAE course content. We have carefully crafted our curriculum and experiences to subtly bring about positive mental and physical shifts that students say have impacted them for years.

But again, this is all my take on our many offerings. It’s up to you to determine whether you have the time available for the commitment for these longer adventures.

To get a better idea of the course that is best for you read more about our offerings at Or click on one of the selections below:

If you prefer, give us a call at (910) 399-8090.

With wilderness courses available for a variety of age groups, interests, locations and amazing experiences, we’re pretty sure you can find an NCOAE program that meets your needs.

Adventure First, Education Always!

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ncoae-team_stephen-mullaneyAbout the Author: Stephen Mullaney is the staff development director at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) in Wilmington, N.C., where he is responsible for the training and education of NCOAE’s field instructors. He is a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and has taught within the Durham, N.C., public school system. Stephen received his undergraduate degree in English from Framingham State University, and an Independent, alternative Masters in Education.

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