Adventure Education

Adventure Education is

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY!

Adventure Education falls under the umbrella of experiential learning because it is hands-on learning. It engages the learner physically, emotionally and mentally. It encourages exploring, appropriate risk taking, and play. Unknown and unpredictable outcomes create adventure, fun, laughter and learning!

Adventure educators use a specific framework to facilitate learning: Basically, "The Adventure Wave" undulates between three phases: Brief, Activity, & Debrief. Learning begins with the Brief, where directions and framing are given. During the Activity, participants engage in specific challenges. The Debrief can happen throughout the process but the final debrief happens after the activity. Here, reflection and discussion give participants opportunities to transfer what they have learned from the activity to their lives. The Metaphor is a powerful tool that helps with this process.

Adventure education creates a safe environment for exploring the unknown and provides opportunities to recognize personal strengths and weaknesses i.e., to learn about others, to learn life-skills and develop character.

History of Adventure Education

Contemporary Adventure Education has applied the tenents of experiential learning since the 1930's when Kurt Hahn's Outward Bound Program helped sailors survive during World War II.

The idea of Experiential Learning was conceived at the turn of the Twentieth Century. John Dewey recognized that learning is a process where students gain insights from their experiences. From his teachings, the philosophy of experiential learning continues to grow. In spite of trends in education, experiential learning has never been abandoned. Rather, it has been nurtured and developed by leaders in learning: David Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, and Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence.

It is current brain research that recognizes experiential education's impact on learning. In his book Learning with the Body in Mind, Eric Jensen reports, "Researchers know that 'play' plays an integral role in learning." He cites adventure play, non-competitive group play and exercise play as recommended programs. In Super Teaching, he further states, "Recent findings in brain research have validated the use of many types of games which were previously dismissed as play. Those findings recognize the importance of emotions, body memory, low threat and high challenge exercise. Play embodies each of those elements.

Most recent research points specifically to adventure education: Adventure Education has lasting impact on the social-emotional development of students.

Challenge by Choice

One of the most powerful lessons learned involves the use of choice. Coaxing young people into doing a difficult task or element teaches them only that they can be talked into doing something that may feel uncomfortable.

On the other hand, helping students see that they have the right and ability to choose their level of challenge, and how to assess what is and isn’t an appropriate level of challenge, teaches them how to make positive decisions for life.

Learning Goals

  1. To increase the student’s sense of personal confidence.
  2. To increase mutual support within a group.
  3. To develop abilities that contribute to group decision-making and leadership.
  4. To foster appreciation and respect for differences existing within the group.
  5. To develop an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of real problem-solving.

Strong Facilitation

A facilitator does not add or subtract from a process, but keeps the team focused and moving in a positive direction.

An effective facilitator is like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. When the catalyst is added, it accelerates a reaction and encourages the formation of a new compound.

Educators know that curiosity, motivation, inspiration and adrenalin are powerful catalysts for learning to take place. Our activities embody all of these. More importantly, while our activities are fun and engaging, our facilitators understand they have a vital role to play to ensure successful outcomes.

Adventure Education develops the following:

Anti-bullying Respect
Anti-drug Responsibility
Communication Problem Solving
Compassion Self Esteem
Critical Thinking Social-Emotional
Empathy Teambuilding
Health Tolerance
Leadership Trust

Experiential Education is Multi-Sensory

Experiential education engages participants and fosters the enjoyment, growth and success of all participants by accommodating different learning styles. The combination of auditory, visual and bodily-kinesthetic stimuli focuses students’ attention with greater meaning to allow information to be absorbed.


  1. Learning is best through EXPERIENCE that includes the whole mind and body with all its emotions, senses and receptors.

  2. Learning is CREATION, not consumption. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self.

  3. COLLABERATION aids learning. A genuine learning community is always better for learning than a collection of isolated individuals.

  4. Learning takes place on many levels SIMULTANEOUSLY. The brain thrives when it is challenged to do many things at once.

  5. Learning comes from doing the work itself with FEEDBACK. The real and concrete are far better teachers than the hypothetical and abstract—provided there is time for total immersion, feedback and reflection.

  6. POSITIVE emotions greatly improve learning. Learning that is stressful, painful, and dreary can’t hold a candle to learning that is joyful, relaxed, and engaging.

  7. The IMAGE brain absorbs information instantly and automatically. Concrete images are easier for the brain to grasp than verbal abstractions.

Funding the Program funding

Do NOT let a lack of funding prevent your students from benefiting from these innovative character and leadership building experiences. Eighty percent (80%) of the schools we work with are Title 1 schools, where at least 75% of the student population qualify for free or reduced price meals.

With our scholarship program, no child is turned away because they are unable to pay the participation fee. In 2014, our scholarship fund provided character programming for more than 1,000 disadvantaged students. 100% of the donations to our scholarship fund goes directly to fund a character or leadership adventure program for a Title 1 school. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations made to Vehicle For Change are tax deductible.


If you're school does not qualify for Title 1, we have some suggestions to help offset the cost for the school so you can conduct an effective comprehensive Character Education or Outdoor Education program. Regardless of current funding, every school can implement a successful event.

The following are suggestions to off-set school costs of implementing your Character Education or Leadership program:
  • Charge a participation fee to each student attending to help defray the costs - an on campus FIELD TRIP.
  • Present plan to your PTA/PTO and ask for sponsorship
  • Seek General Fund support from your central administration and school board.
  • Use vending machine/concessions proceeds.
  • Seek corporate donations and sponsorships.
  • Apply for local or federal grants (ie. Smaller Learning Community Grant) www.k12grants.org. Title I funds or Title IV-21st Century Schools (Safe and Drug Free Schools).
  • Ask your teacher mentors to volunteer to assist during your event.
  • Offer a fundraiser—We suggest: Teamwork Fundraising.
  •