For as long as I can remember, I have been absolutely determined to pursue a future and career that I am passionate about. In my mind, it has never been about making money, my actions have always been dictated by following my dreams. When I was a little girl, I was vehemently convinced I was going to be a marine biologist. I read New England whale watching field guides for fun, my entire wardrobe consisted of over-sized t-shirts with seals and other sea life on them. Eventually I went off to college, and 2.5 years into a marine biology degree, decided the passion was no longer there for me. So I quit.
Years later (over 5 to be exact), I found a driving passion in fitness, and returned to school to earn an education in exercise and sport science. My current income is laughable, and I’m drowning in student debt, but I’ll be damned if I don’t LOVE what I do. I never wake up dreading work, in fact quite the opposite, I feel a sense of fulfillment in helping others with what I do. And I’m absolutely convinced that if more people would pursue their dreams and passions, the world would be a better place.
This was a long winded introduction to the actual topic of this blog post. But first…a little more back story:
A few years ago,while at a group run, I met a fascinating new friend named Seth. Seth was not only a recent finisher of hiking the entire Appalachian trail, but he could sing a Girl Scout Camp worthy rendition of “Baby Shark” (note, none of those guys are Seth, but you get the idea). Soon after we met Seth, he returned to school to pursue a degree in Adventure Education from Green Mountain College. I had never heard of such a career (or so I thought, at the time), and have since spent the last few years green with envy as I learn of Seth’s latest adventures, such as hiking in Peru or mountain biking in the Moab Desert, via my Facebook feed.
But it turns out, outdoor & adventure education programs are more than simply earning a college degree doing amazing adventures the rest of us dream of. Outdoor & adventure education programs prepare students to be lifelong leaders in the fields of adventure, outdoor, and environmental education. And in turn, they provide educational experiences that help others to not only grow and develop as human beings, but foster a love and appreciation for the outdoors.
By definition, adventure and outdoor education uses inherent risk and outcomes to empower individuals; it helps connect people using experiential education with themselves and others through nature based recreation. And how exactly does this benefit people? Let’s get a little more technical for a second:
There are three theories of transfer in adventure education in which the participant may apply what they learned into future experiences. The first of these theories is “specific transfer”- the learner applies the habits and skills learned during an experience to a new and similar experience (e.g. when an individual learns how to belay during a rock climbing experience and then applies that knowledge to rappelling). The second theory is “nonspecific transfer”- the learner establishes some common principles acquired through previous experiences and applies them in a new learning situation (e.g. when an individual develops trust through a trust building activity). The third theory is “metaphoric transfer”- the learner applies similar underlying principles to other areas and situations (e.g. when individuals utilize teamwork during an activity such as canoeing and later applies it to the workplace or other group experiences). (source)
In short: these outdoor adventures can be used to teach far more than just the basics of how to actually accomplish them, but rather they teach coping skills that can be transferred over to events in ones life, such as learning to effectively work as a team, deal with and gain trust from others, and develop leadership skills. In addition, they help enhance self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as increase awareness of one’s body and abilities. Further, there is countless research and evidence showing that many people, both children and adults alike, learn and develop lifelong skills better in outdoor settings and through non traditional learning experiences than they do inside a typical classroom.
Have you ever been to a “team building” weekend, perhaps with your fellow employees, or a sports team? Maybe you found yourself on a high ropes course, or on a kayaking excursion with your peers. The instructors who lead you through such excursions were likely graduates of a professional outdoor and adventure education program.
Let’s bring this full circle, shall we? (Remember the Marine biology rambling at the beginning of this post?) I ADORE the fact that there are people pursuing and education in something they love, with the ultimate goal of helping others. Now, my friend Seth and a few of his peers have found it hard to locate schools that provide degrees in becoming an outdoor and adventure education professional. So they have recently created a website, Lost and Finding, dedicated to becoming a hub of resources for those interested in outdoor and adventure education.
Their site is brand new and still under construction, but has recently been presented at the 2014 Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education conference. Seth asked if I would be willing to share the website over here on Relentless Forward Commotion, and I was more than happy to oblige. I’m not only passionate about the outdoors and adventure myself, but I’m thrilled to see such programs exist to help foster growth, education, and a love for the outdoors, all while helping “build” better people. And as I mentioned above, I’m absolutely convinced that if more people would pursue their dreams and passions, and in turn share those passions, the world would be a better place.
So please check out their site, and feel free to share with anyone you know who may be interested!
Readers: have you ever participated in some sort of outdoor or adventure education, either in school, as a team, or as a part of your workplace? Tell us about your experience! (Links encouraged!)