“Phone’s ringing, Dude” — The Big Lebowski
The phone’s also ringing here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), and a good number of times the caller is representing a public, independent or charter school that is seeking help with their fledgling outdoor education and wilderness-based adventure programs.
These educational institutions either want to greatly improve their existing program or actually incorporate quality adventure-based experiential education into their current curriculum.
One director of a highly regarded independent school in the Pacific Northwest recently told us that — despite all the electronic means we currently possess to “stay connected” — many of her school’s students seem lost when they leave campus. In the modern world, this educator said, students and alumni of schools feel as if they are on an island.
That’s where the adventure-based experiential education consultants here at NCOAE can help. We can visit a school campus or the school’s outdoor education programming locations and observe existing programs in order to advance on what they currently have.
And for those schools that don’t have an active outdoor education program, we’re available to help set up a curriculum, offering such factors as site management, course progression, transference of learning and leadership, risk management protocols, and specific course areas to program in.
We find this challenge very exciting, because for us, we know that a well-thought out experiential education program, presented by willing and passionate educators, results in a powerful collaborative effort that can’t help but be successful with student-centered learning objectives.
All of this is to say that we are currently designing programs for those schools that want experiential education programming but lack the human resources and/or the talent needed to make it happen. Again on the phone, educators often tell us that they have wanted to start an outdoor education program for years, but don’t have the staff to run it or the level of expertise to make it powerful, or simply do not know how to convice their administration of the efficacy of such efforts..
And again, that’s where The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education can make a difference. During initial meetings and visits we explore a school’s cultural mission and its need for outdoor and experiential education programming. From that point, we can begin to create custom programs that fit that particular school. There’s no turnkey or cookie cutting solutions here at NCOAE; we help you set up programs and design courses that specifically make a difference in the lives of your students. That’s why our custom programming and consulting is available for college prep academies; public inner city, suburban and rural schools; and alumni programs for private schools.
As more and more schools reach out for such innovative programs, we will continue to lead the way in designing and running courses that have the strength to put communities on a positive journey with effects that last well into the future.
Learn more about NCOAE’s outdoor education consulting services by calling Zac Adair at the national office: (910) 399-8090.
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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.