North Carolina | Backpacking & Rock Climbing | Outdoor Educator

If Outdoor Education interests you, consider our 25-day North Carolina course to help you decide whether a professional career in the outdoors is for you. We think it could be.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. And, we know what it takes to become an Outdoor Educator. If Outdoor Education interests you, consider our 25-day North Carolina course to help you decide whether a professional career in the outdoors is for you. We think it could be.

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25 days

Course Information

Adventure First

During this 25-day course, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina while you paddle, climb and hike.

North Carolina offers the perfect setting for a month of immersion in the wilderness with considerable environmental diversity. You’ll explore the Grand Canyon of North Carolina, Linville Gorge, one of only two wilderness gorges in the Southern U.S. You’ll summit Black Balsam Knob, a 6,240-foot peak in the Pisgah National Forest. And, of course, the Atlantic Ocean.

During this 25-day North Carolina Backpacking & Rock Climbing course, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina while you paddle, climb, hike and surf. Starting on our North Carolina-based campus, you’ll spend powerful days learning and exploring in NCOAE’s backyard, with all of our resources at our fingertips.

This outdoor educator course takes potential wilderness instructors to a variety of remote areas in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, including Pisgah National Forest, the 30-mile-long Art Loeb Trail and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.

Much of your time will be spent mastering skills required to explore these mountain areas, including learning the basics of camp set-up, rock climbing, backpacking and other technical outdoor skills.

During every other moment, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.

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  • Duration: 25 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $4,750.00
  • Credit Hours: 6

Education Always

  • Wilderness First Responder certification
  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer certification
  • Expedition planning
  • Wilderness Risk Management
  • Remote wilderness camp craft
  • Backcountry navigation
  • Expedition cooking and food planning
  • Experience best practices in environmental and civic responsibility
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE core curriculum
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • Join us in our backyard as we explore the Appalachian Mountains, the Pisgah National Forest, and at the Atlantic coast.
  • Spend days in Linville Gorge wilderness area, developing skills in backpacking and climbing.
  • Head to the ocean, gaining paddling and surfing skills. We want to share our home with you.
  • Solo experience: Outdoor education instructor training would be incomplete without a solo experience. During your solo, you’ll have time to reflect on your training, complete required assignments, and enjoy the peaceful solitude of the wilderness.
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR): You’ll learn the skills and tools necessary to perform the highest medical treatment as it relates to trauma, environmental, and medical issues that arise in a wilderness context. The WFR credential is the industry standard for outdoor education instructors, which is why this component is a valuable asset for your career path.

Why Take This Course

  • To further your knowledge and development as an outdoor educator/field instructor.
  • Discover in just 25 days whether outdoor and wilderness education is the career path best suited to you.
  • Acquire skills for an exciting job that takes you to pristine destinations in the great outdoors instead of an office cubicle.

Where You’ll Be

  • North Carolina beaches
  • Pisgah National Forest
  • Linville Gorge Wilderness
  • Black Balsam Knob
  • Shinning Rock Wilderness
What is the North Carolina - Backpacking & Rock Climbing course?

The 25-day North Carolina Backpacking & Rock Climbing outdoor educator course is a month-long wilderness adventure during which future outdoor and adventure educators receive training in wilderness medicine (wilderness first responder), backpacking, mountaineering, and rock climbing, and how to teach and guide novice wilderness explorers in the development of these same skills. You’ll also explore the theory of adventure education, become familiar with teaching skills and styles, and master site management, hazard recognition, and risk management.

You’ll visit a variety of remote areas in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, including Pisgah National Forest, the 30-mile-long Art Loeb Trail, Cedar Rock, Stone Depot, Lower West Rights, and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Along the way, you’ll explore these mountain areas with students in tow, teaching the basics of camp setup, rock climbing, backpacking, and other outdoor skills.

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.

How different is the Outdoor Educator from the Semester course?

For the Outdoor Educator course, we pack a lot into your 25 days in North Carolina. We do this through combining the highlights of local topography, geography, and culture with our exceptional Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course. This shorter, more intense course allows for a wide variety of activities against the backdrop of lush greenery, winding rivers, and some of the oldest mountains in the world. If you’re looking for a less intensive stay in North Carolina with more time for additional exploration and adventure, we suggest you consider joining us for a semester.

How difficult is the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course?

The WFR course involves a variety of technical medical information and hands-on training. Most graduates say the hands-on training is the most important part of the WFR course. The “real life” scenarios help you to understand how to use medical skills outside of the classroom. While the material is challenging and the course is demanding, our NCOAE instructors are some of the best in the industry. They want you to succeed, and they’ll take the time to ensure you thoroughly understand each concept during the course.

Is the Outdoor Educator course offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer this 25-day course in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can explore Alaska, Ecuador, or the Pacific Northwest at various times of the year.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in North Carolina?

Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

What kind of food will I be eating?

Since we will be carrying all of our food on our backs, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.

Academic Credit

Your work during our 25-day North Carolina – Backpacking & Rock Climbing / Outdoor Educator course is eligible for up to six college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington including:

  • EVS 485 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits
  • EVS 592 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits

Course Outcomes

In our beautiful home state, you’ll acquire self and group assessment and management skills.  This 25-day course will additionally expose you to a unique variety of environmental settings to enrich your outdoor educator instruction. You will surf, paddle, hike and explore mountains and rivers, and encounter remote flora, fauna, and landscapes.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

This course will prepare you with the self-reliance and skill necessary to be an adept backcountry leader and instructor. You will learn effectual communication skills, understand the importance of making positive personal choices for your life, and help you understand how to become an influential member of your community.

You will return home with the skills to help lead others and guide in the wilderness, using your newfound skills.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

The NCOAE Outdoor Educator– North Carolina course is the affordable adventure option if you are seeking extraordinary outdoor skill development, including: wilderness medicine, wilderness risk management, backpacking, climbing, backcountry cooking and living, and expedition planning.

Best of all, you’ll advance your opportunities — to work in the wilderness, and to affect positive changes in the world.

This 25-day North Carolina course and academic adventure is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it in our home state.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

Available Dates
July 06 — July 30, 2021
COURSE FILLEDInquire about WAITLIST: 910-399-8090.

You’ll develop your personal leadership style, gain wilderness skills, and learn effective tools for communication. Finally, you will acquire skills with self and group assessment, group management, and develop the ability to teach and share your appreciation of the natural environment with others.