Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Outdoor Education VS Outdoor Recreation

Are you an outdoor educator? Or do you prefer outdoor recreation? See how you stack up against some of these criteria.

Outdoor Recreation:

You prefer to spend your day alone bagging peaks.
Prussik Knot

You can tackle a 5.10 route without breaking a sweat. You live for 5.11's.

You preferred gym classes in school and participated in a lot of competitive sports.

You travel and like to take rafting trips, visit major National Parks and spend time at beautiful landmarks.

You have organized groups of friends to join you on outdoor trips.

Outdoor Education & Leadership

You enjoy being in charge of groups who rely on you to lead them and provide for their overall wellbeing.

You prefer to share your experiences and help spread environmental awareness, appreciation, and understanding.

You liked natural sciences in school and stayed active in your own ways.

You hold certifications in wilderness medicine, have been a camp counselor, or guided tours.

What does it matter?

It really doesn't. However, as an outdoor educator and leader jobs like Naturalist and Nature Interpreter are right up your alley. You like to get into the biological and ecological aspects of nature and share your insight and knowledge with others. In Outdoor Recreation your focus is more on leading groups of people in technical wilderness settings such as mountaineering and whitewater excursions. 

Can there be an overlap? Absolutely. A lot of people (myself included) are proficient at, and enjoy, both educational and technical aspects of outdoor jobs. Usually, however, you'll find that each job focuses a little more on one or the other. Either your job will be more technical oriented, teaching climbing techniques and self arrest methods, or more educational, exploring natural ecosystems and habitats and their interactions. There is definitely a lot of crossing over in these two disciplines. As a trip leader or a guide it's helpful to have a feel for both disciplines as it makes you a more well rounded leader and educator.


  1. What do you think about outdoor education programs like ones offered at "alternative boarding schools" such as the Oliverian School?

    If you're not familiar you can see more about what they offer here:


    Do you think an outdoor education learning style like this could be beneficial to students who "prefer gym class" in school?

  2. I think that alternative schools are a wonderful and inspiring way to bring education up to speed with the modern world. Walk into a K-12 public school these days and you see kids sitting in the corner for bad behavior, pouting, crying, screaming, disobedient, undisciplined children. Not all schools or all children are this way but it's not much of an exaggeration either. I think that the ineffectiveness of modern sit-at-a-desk schools is party because they don't allow children to be... children. Even as an adult I can only take so much academic work before I feel my feet (and soul) get restless. Combining outdoor and adventure education with standard K-12 curriculum seems like a beautiful way to let kids explore the world while developing the academic skills necessary to advance into post-secondary education.

  3. AnonymousJuly 24, 2018

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