Teaching Outdoor Education and Leadership

White Mountain students experience the boundless beauty of our mountainous backyard on a daily basis. Through our Outdoor Education program, we take advantage of our unique location in a number of ways.  

One course that honors student curiosity in our exceptional setting is a spring elective, Outdoor Education and Leadership, taught by Director of Outdoor Education Ted Teegarden. The course examines outdoor leadership theory and evaluates philosophies developed from distinguished outdoor education and leadership organizations like NOLS, Outward Bound and The Appalachian Mountain Club. In this elective, students have the chance to teach their own lesson related to outdoor education, recreation or nature, and design an experiential exercise after an extensive amount of guided research on their topic.  

Freshman Taggart Cole crafted a 30 minute lesson looking at climbing etiquette and the basics of Leave No Trace, complete with an educational goal and objective: 

Goal: To teach how to properly approach, prepare, climb and top out/descend/retreat from a climbing area in a safe way and the basics of Leave No Trace (LNT)

Objective: To teach the class how to be responsible while climbing in the outdoors

Taggart pulled from a variety of online resources and primary sources, including an interview with White Mountain climbing coach and experienced boulderer, Tyler Smith. Taggart referenced websites like www.accessfund.org for infographics and ideas on how to communicate climbing methods. The experiences of Nate Fitch and Ron Funderburke in Climbing: From Gym to Rock helped him detail a safe transition to the outdoor world of climbing, to the class, and provided ways for him to introduce the 7 Rules of Leave No Trace. His lesson included pre-class preparation, an instruction outline, and a student activity and evaluation.

Through a leadership course like this one, students are able to not only develop academic skills, but also practice the process of teaching and leading others. Ted reflects, “Students learn so much about the subject and themselves. Most of us teach on a daily basis and don’t even know it. I believe that good leaders are good teachers. Good teachers want to cultivate and nurture inquiry, and they want their students to learn and grow. Why wouldn’t we want the next generation of leaders to be great teachers?”

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