Helping students plan their own adventure

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 6-12, 1997
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Helping students plan their own adventure
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Helping students plan their own adventure
Question: Just looking for your ideas on an assignment that I am giving to my outdoor adventure students (a course taught at the high school that instructs on everything from winter camping and wild edibles to trap shooting and rock climbing). The assignment I gave includes the students' planning for their greatest outdoor adventure. They must have some phone numbers of contacts and possible locations and adventures already in mind. Do you have any general ideas for them to think about when doing their planning? I'll be sure to give this address to them. Thanks for the feedback and happy tripping. (We'll be in the BWCA in early March with the students!).

Scott Birklid
Anoka, MN
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Right off the bat, this sounds like the kind of sleuthing I do every week as the Adventure Adviser. The best advice I can give is to first figure out where in the world they're interested in going (Does this have to be something they can actually execute, or just plan as though they can execute it?) and what kind of activity they want to do (sea kayaking, climbing, cycling)? Once they've gotten that under their collective belts, they'd be smart to call the nearest national forest service office to their starting point for trail and weather information, as well as a run-down on wilderness regulations--do they need a backcountry permit to camp, must they register with the office before embarking?--and route suggestions. If the trip takes them through state land, I recommend calling the state's recreation and parks office in the capitol; they'll be able to point your kids in the right direction as far as who manages the land.

Farther afield, most countries have tourist offices somewhere in the U.S. (try New York first), which are pretty helpful in providing leads to other knowledgeable sources. Also worth checking with are local outfitters who run guided trips to the area in question. More likely than not, they'll be willing to provide basic information about what trail and weather conditions are like, as well as possibly offer insight into which routes are ideal. The Outside Tripfinder in the January 1997 issue has a near-exhaustive listing of outfitters by region, as does the Active Traveler classified advertising section, in the back of every issue.

But wait: While your students are on the subject of great outdoor adventures, they should really consider submitting an expedition proposal to the Adventure Grants, a program that each year awards one team of 12- to 17-year-olds the adventure of their dreams, anywhere in North America. The rules: Students must send in detailed, two-page proposals outlining their envisioned expedition by April 21 and, if they win, they must be prepared to plan and execute the adventure themselves. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will provide pre-trip backcountry training and instructors will accompany the students on the trip to make sure it's safe. Proposals will be judged on how thorough the proposals are, how viable the trips are, and whether the trip will have a positive effect on the natural environment. Best of all, Outside magazine and co-sponsor Hi-Tec will foot the entire bill. Enough of the sales pitch: Call John Alderman at Outside (505-989-7100 ext. 119) for applications and more details.

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