COEO believes that the direct, hands-on experiences of outdoor education provide many powerful and lasting benefits:
1. Education for Environment
Outdoor education directly exposes participants to our natural environment in ways that engender personal connections, knowledge, skills and a lifelong environmental ethic. Outdoor education powers the realization that this ethic is applicable to the very life support systems of this planet, be they found in urban, rural or remote settings.
2. Education for Curriculum
The experiential nature of outdoor education relates curricula to real life situations and the complexities of our natural surroundings. In so doing, it provides a unique means of developing critical thinking skills and stimulating desirable attributes such as innovation and imagination. Outdoor education also broadens and deepens the knowledge base of all subject areas, and it can do so in integrated ways.
3. Education for Character
The contexts, experiences and interactions of outdoor education provide opportunities for both personal and interpersonal growth. This includes the development of individual traits such as confidence, empathy, and a sense of responsibility, as well as the development of group skills such as effective communication and working together towards a common goal.
4. Education for Wellbeing
Outdoor education promotes the lifelong physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of participants. It provides safe skill development in outdoor activities that are personally fulfilling and environmentally sustainable. This includes pursuits such as hiking, camping, orienteering, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, birding, art, photography, nature interpretation, tai-chi, and solo experiences.
Written in 2004 by COEO President Grant Linney, with input from many COEO colleagues.