By Stephen Mullaney, NCOAE Staff Development Director
When The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) got together to host a multi-day “invitation only” event for instructional candidates, we took the same care as we would when building a campfire.
As a rule, wood doesn’t burn on its own. It’s the gases released, along with a combination of oxygen and ignition that creates the flame. What you need, in fact, is quality fuel, oxygen and ignition.
Here at NCOAE, we have developed, over a period of time, a curriculum that goes well beyond the industry standard and synthesizes best practices that work in wilderness and beyond. Our outdoor education curriculum is our fuel, and it’s the finest fuel to support the courses we offer to students, educators and communities. However, it’s the thought, passion and effort we put into constant improvement that provides the oxygen we need to help it grow.
All that’s needed now is to build a nest that will nurture a spark that ignites and gives us light.
What we have always done is hand pick our educators from all areas of the country — outdoor education professionals who demonstrate the qualities and skills (i.e., delivery of content, enthusiasm, experience), as well as the commitment to be the best in the field. These are the instructors we want to help us ignite the NCOAE curriculum for our students.
For five days earlier this month, we gathered on our Wilmington, North Carolina, campus, getting right to exploring our curriculum design and delivery. We witnessed our instructor candidates as they offered instruction to us in their areas of strength. It was at that point that we began to realize our fire was getting warm.
The powerful ignition occurred while observing the invited educators delivering NCOAE’s curriculum to us and the others invited. Now, our fire was burning hot. As a current NCOAE instructor, I was drawn to the power and beauty of what I saw. What made the heaviest impact on me was to see expert educators who have been exposed to multiple curriculums, become excited, engaged, challenged and moved by what NCOAE has to offer.
So when you see a bright powerful light that draws you close and demands your attention, you’ll likely witness the power of what we have done. And it’s at that point that you’ll likely understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that we operate with intent and power to make a positive impact on the world around us.
(Editor’s note: Special thanks to Kyla Basher of Dog Day Studio for the photos appearing in today’s blog post.)
About The Author: Stephen Mullaney is the staff development director at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) in Wilmington, North Carolina, 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 his Master’s Degree in Education from North Carolina Central University.