The heat index read 110-degrees. Clouds were building, preparing to light up the sky with electric current and release rain by the bucket loads. It was still summer, yet parents were starting to ask questions about school, course loads, teachers and materials needed to start the year. Year-round schools were already weeks into the fall semester. It’s sad on many levels to think that the season for fun in the sun was coming to a close.
For students enrolled in The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s Education Without Walls (EWW) program, stepping out of the woods and back into the classroom is a time for them to test their new skills, to experience their new powers and to celebrate the success that accompanies effort and accomplishment.
It’s distressing to be wet for days on end. Watching lightning light up the inside of the tent can be paralyzing. Hanging off the edge of a 200-foot rock wall makes the brain spark and flutter. In the end, however, these are the experiences that can never be taken away by tensions and frustrations at home, in school and in the community at large. It’s these experiences that give our students the strength to step into leadership roles, play the role of a team player, and become the problem solvers and the shapers of the future.
Don’t be sad or somber that summer has drawn to a close; be excited for the students who have been afforded the opportunities to be shaped by the wilderness around them. They are returning to help us mold a positive future in the communities to which they return.
Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), the opportunities for students do not stop when the school calendar starts. Our fall Education Without Walls courses are in place to support students throughout the year.
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About 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.