March 2012 Archives

Let's face it -- every adventure learning program needs a balanced budget and could use more customers to accomplish its goals. The challenge is: Can we maintain the integrity of what it is we're doing when the need for more revenue conflicts with what we are all about? In a future blog we'll take a look at the growing industry of "pay to play" adventure parks and canopy tours; but for now let's leave them out of the mix as we examine some questions that have confronted educational programs and their efforts to increase income.

Here are three realistic situations we have dealt with, and you might face. Before you read my thoughts on how to deal with them, think about what you would do:

Over my time facilitating experiential adventures, I have dreamed up all sorts of theories and philosophies regarding facilitation style. I have evolved as a facilitator. My style as a young facilitator helped me to gain confidence and understanding in the learning process, but was not as effective as I might have wished in getting desired outcomes for my participants. More recently, I've evolved to experimenting with a style in which the group is the facilitator and there is very little interaction between myself and the group at all. You might call it Zen facilitation.

"How is the philosophy of choice most effectively used?"

This question has long been debated throughout the field of adventure education. And there is no doubt it is a question that could elicit as many different responses as the number of people you ask. Recently, the question it poses has become all the more relevant as "pay to play" venues (Canopy Tours & Adventure Parks) have begun to proliferate around the country and offer an adventure experience that has limited opportunity for choosing your challenge and limits any kind of meaningful reflection as part of the experience. This new development aside, here are some old and new thoughts on the matter.


As Experiential Educators, we're continuously evaluating our groups; a process we begin before the group ever shows up for the program. As we plan the experience, we collect information about the participants, identify group goals for the experience, and begin to put together framework or plan that will take all of the above into account. Before we have even laid eyes on them, we have a general picture of the group and the program. And it all looks so good on paper.


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