Best Practices for the Integration of Adventure Activities and Environmental Education
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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The combination of adventure activities and environmental education is a growing trend with a high amount of anecdotal support but limited research. Defining adventure activities and identifying current trends is a challenge because of many different ideas and concepts across the field of adventure education. This study researched adventure-based and environmental education programs and literature to define adventure activities, identified current organizations offering programs, and created best practices for integrating both. Suggestions were made for Treehaven, a residential environmental education center, to design and implement programs. Treehaven would like to know and implement the best practices when conducting adventure-based programs at their facility. Data was collected through interviews with professionals in the field and qualitatively analyzed to find recurring themes for planning, conducting, and evaluating successful programs. Five organizations were interviewed and four themes were present in the qualitative data. The best practices were created from the identified themes, focusing on planning programs, flexibility for different participants, training staff, and evaluation of activities. Activities should first be designed to fit within an organization’s resources and mission, and then be documented in a lesson plan or other format. Organizations should work with participants to select and tailor appropriate activities for their needs. Staff must be competent with the hard skills necessary for activities but also environmental knowledge to educate participants. Evaluation is necessary to gather feedback and improve programs. These results were then applied to Treehaven’s current situation and suggestions were made. The suggestions created from this study provide help to plan effective programs incorporating both adventure and environmental education. Planning programs to be both adventure and environmentally focused has several benefits for participants and will help Treehaven to better educate their audience. The study was completed in May of 2013.