Camosun College is launching an innovative post-degree diploma program in adventure education

Camosun College is launching an innovative post-degree diploma program in adventure education

Camosun launches innovative program in adventure education

The 13-month, 30-credit blended program consists of online courses and two, two-week face-to-face outdoor field terms

Growing up in a small town in Northwestern Alberta, Nevin Harper developed a deep appreciation for the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle. “It was very much a lived experience having a nature-based childhood,” says Harper, now an instructor of Sports Management at Camosun College. “Most of our family holidays were at the lake, camping, fishing and doing simple outdoor things. I learned the power of nature for transformational change in my youth.”

After university, he worked as a wilderness guide with young offenders and saw that kind of positive transformation first-hand. “For young people who were having issues in the school system, struggling with learning disabilities or lacking adequate family or community support, we saw them become more confident and starting to believe in their abilities after a month out in the bush.”

Inspired by this, Harper earned a PhD in Education with a focus on Adolescence Wilderness Therapy at the University of Minnesota. Now teaching at Camosun, he is leading the development of a new professional development program in Adventure Education, launching in summer 2017 through Camosun’s Centre for Sport & Exercise Education (CSEE).

“This is a unique program that combines both online and face-to-face learning,” he says. “It will prepare educators, outdoor guides and instructors, health and human service providers and others to bring, safe and meaningful adventure-based learning to their workplaces. Adventure education is designed to get people outdoors, get them active in challenging activities and to reflect on what they learn—that’s where personal growth and development happens.” He notes that it is not a guide certification program but he expects it will prove popular with guides who want to integrate educational theory into their work.

The program is designed to be accessible to busy working professionals, notes Harper. “You can do the online component from anywhere. As long as you can attend both field terms, you can complete the full program requirements.”

The 13-month, 30-credit blended program consists of online courses and two, two-week face-to-face outdoor field terms at both the beginning and end of the program. In 2017, the field terms will take place on Vancouver Island.

The summer field terms begin with a week of introductory online work, two weeks in the field and a further week online. The first field term is land-based and focuses on three core courses: adventures in group work, outdoor leadership and foundations of adventure education. Plans include hiking, camping, climbing and other outdoor pursuits, but the curriculum goes well beyond recreational activities.

“It’s important to understand the underlying educational opportunities when you put people in the field and they go through physical challenges together,” says Harper. “You find that people are expanding their comfort zone through supportive risk-taking. Students will learn how to facilitate these experiences, where a balance of challenge and support is critical. Students will better understand the psychological, sociological and environmental influences that promote individual and group growth, and the profound learning outcomes which occur in an outdoor classroom.”

The second field term is water-based with a curriculum focused on transformational learning, outdoor leadership and the wilderness experience. “It’s about learning how to facilitate experiences, how to use metaphor, the actual process as a leader: in what you say, how you set things up, how you debrief and how you engage with others,” says Harper. The last course of the program is the ‘wilderness experience’ which utilizes eco-psychology and examines human interactions with nature. “It can be an incredibly restorative experience. If you use the outdoor experience properly you can teach people to reduce stress, increase attention span, promote rational decision-making and improve executive functioning. That has an impact on both the individual and society as a whole.”

During the second field term, instructors will teach skills in paddle-boarding, canoeing and kayaking. “We’ll be on the water and do shoreline rescues, teach paddling techniques and instructional guidance,” says Harper who notes that people’s ability to understand the world and to make informed decisions is dramatically improved when they make nature a part of their lives. “This is well-supported by research —we’d all do better in our modern society if we spent more time outdoors. It improves health outcomes, civic engagement and improves our personal and collective resiliency.”

Adventure education is “incredibly exciting,” says Camosun Vice President Education John Boraas. “Anyone who looks at this program will want to take it.” He notes that the immersive approach taken by the program leads to applied, real-world learning. “Experiential learning in this new program provides a chance to experience and practice the ideas and concepts presented as theory.”

Harper emphasizes that the program is taking a team-based approach. “We’re assembling a top team of talented instructors, people who are leaders in their fields in Canada, coming from a diverse group of guides, outdoor specialists and education professionals.”

This team-based approach builds upon Camosun’s core strength of engaged and experienced faculty. Instructors like Harper “have passions for active living, developing skills as citizens and encouraging social and economic mobility,” says Boraas. “These are just a few of the passions that drive the college’s teaching faculty. They represent an enormous strength for the college.”

Why should people take this program? Harper gives a passionate pitch: “This is professional development that can be taken from anywhere. Students will meet incredibly dynamic, motivated people. That’s going to be a diverse group where people learn from and support each other, take risks and learn to connect deeply with nature. They’re going to form amazing relationships and have a great time while learning essential skills and theory out in the field.” For educators, this program is considered an acceptable integrated program for BC Teacher Qualification Service (TQS) category upgrading. TQS pre-approval is recommended.

Applications are currently being accepted. For more information, visit: camosun.ca/adventure.

“Ivan Watson is the marketing and comunications strategist at Camosun College’s Interurban campus. Email: watsoni@camosun.ca

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich golfer and top B.C. junior and juvenile player Willy Bishop was named to the 2021 Canadian National Junior Golf Squad on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy Jenny Bishop)
Saanich student to tee-off with national golf team

Willy Bishop, 16, named to Canadian National Junior Golf Squad in 2021

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Four new COVID-19 cases added to Saanich Peninsula Hospital outbreak

Inital round of patient testing is complete, staff testing continues

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Swiftsure International Yacht Race 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Popular Swiftsure yacht race cancelled for second consecutive year

International sailing race hopes to run its 77th event in 2022

Andrew McBride is among those who deck out for Sea of Lights floating ship parade annually. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic sinks Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s Sea of Lights

Oak Bay club encourages donations to the charities event supports

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read