Outdoor Education R&E Center

Introduction to Outdoor Education

James Neill
Last updated:
05 Nov 2006

What is outdoor education?

Outdoor education engages students in adventurous and environmental activities in the outdoors... - more

What are the goals of outdoor education?

The goals of outdoor education are often understanding of self, others, and the environment... - more

What kinds of outdoor education programs are there?

Outdoor education comes in many forms including:

Fields related to outdoor education

Related fields include:

Outcomes Education Quotes

“Adventure education is a recent phenomenon in the widespread business of teaching and learning. Its emergence has, ironically, coincided with the decline of the wilderness resource upon which it depends....”
- Miles, 1990, p.327


Quick Guide


Outdoor education theory

Outdoor education is based on combination of:

History of outdoor education

Outdoor education is commonly believed to have started with Outward Bound in 1941, but it is really the the original form of human education that we have been using since the beginning of hominid evolution...more history

Future of outdoor education

Outdoor education has become increasingly popular in the second half of the 20th century, particularly in industrialized countries, a trend that looks set to continue (Priest & Gass, 1997). Outdoor education programs have also spread and been adapted in more recent years in an increasingly a wide variety of countries, including many in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Fun Guide

+Frik Outdoors

9 Videos on the web

µOutward Bound photos

Q 10 expedition rules

¸Top 10 outdoor movies

,Introductory articles

What's New?

  • Outdoor Education DailyOutdoor Education Daily
    (news, jobs, links, quotes, photos)

    Dynamically generated outdoor education news feeds, job announcements, quotes, discussion group postings, and socially bookmarked photos and links.

  • Surviving the elements: Camping in the winter can be fun if you're preparedSurviving the elements: Camping in the winter can be fun if you're prepared
    (Rob Andrejewski, 8 February, 2005, The Ithaca Journal)

    "There's something I need to get out of the way right now," Chris Arthur, an instructor with Cornell Outdoor Education (COE) told the eight of us assembled before him. "You are going to get cold. There's a myth that you don't get cold when you winter camp, but that's just not true. Our job is to help you minimize the cold and to deal with it intelligently."

  • Outdoor sculpture park blends art with nature
    (Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, 28 August, 2004)

    "Look at my kids, I've taken them to the finest museums and galleries but they've come alive in this environment where they can interact and they can smell the flowers and they can touch things."  In a marriage of art and nature that is growing ever more popular, there are more than 500 outdoor sculpture parks around the world, ranging from smaller spaces to large tourist destinations and education centers.

  • Growth of whitewater canoeing in the USA
    (Jason Strazusio, 27 June, 2004, Associated Press)

    Paddling sport and recreation appears to be in a growth phase in terms of participation rates in the US.  In particular, whitewater canoeing, a combination of flatwater and whitewater paddling seems to be coming back into vogue.  So, break out that Deliverance movie again!

  • What is adventure?
    (James Neill, Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center)
  • Reports indicate outdoor activities on the rise in the USA
    (The Outdoor Network, November 13, 2003)
  • Police-run camp for middle school students with emphasis on building self-esteem
    (Fuller, 2001, Community Links, 8(1))

Does outdoor education work?

In a nutshell, yes....for example, research on over 10,000 people has found that 4 out of 5 people have more positive views about themselves as a result of participating in outdoor education programs.  What's more, these effects seem to last very well over time.

Garfield by Jim Davis