The Third Census of Outdoor Orientation Programs in the United States, 2019

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18666/JOREL-2022-11219

Keywords:

outdoor orientation, census, high impact orientation, wilderness orientation

Abstract

This study investigated the number of outdoor orientation programs—high-impact transition programs for college students—in the United States. Researchers used a census methodology to identify the number of outdoor orientation programs existing at accredited, residential, bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities within the United States (N = 1,217). Researchers found 212 outdoor orientation programs (OOPs), representing 17% of the identified colleges, the largest number of OOPs in the history of these programs. A follow-up survey found OOPs were notably aligned in risk management procedures (medical training of leaders, tracking incidents, etc.) and programmatic similarities (use of name games, problem-solving and initiative activities). Programs diverged in the use of curricular activities (i.e., solo experiences) and the specifics of risk management (i.e., physician oversight). The COVID-19 pandemic led to 83% of programs being cancelled in 2021. A question remains as to how well these high-impact programs will recover after the pandemic.

Author Biography

Brent J. Bell, University of New Hampshire

Associate Professor of Outdoor Leadership and Management at the University of New Hampshire.

References

Anderson, M. (1988). The American Census: A social history. New Haven, Yale University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvb1htjr

Bell, B. J. (2006). Wilderness orientation: Exploring the relationship between college pre-orientation programs and social support. Journal of Experiential Education, 29, 145-167. https://doi.org/10.1177/105382590602900206

Bell, B. J., & Williams, B. G. (2006). Learning from first-year fears: An analysis of the Harvard First-Year Outdoor Program’s “Fear in a Hat” exercise. The Journal of College Orientation and Transition, 14(1), 47-61. https://doi.org/10.24926/jcotr.v14i1.2654

Bell, B. J. (2009). Conference attendance patterns of outdoor orientation program staff at four-year colleges in the United States. Journal of Experiential Education, 31(3). https://doi.org/10.1177/105382590803100309

Bell, B. J., Holmes, M. R. & Williams, B. G. (2010). A census of outdoor orientation

programs at four-year colleges in the United States. Journal of Experiential Education, 33(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1177/105382591003300102

Bell, B. J. & Vaillancourt, C. (2011). When college programs end: A grounded theory

investigation of program discontinuation at four-year colleges in the United States. Journal of First Year Experience & Students in Transition, 23(1). https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/fyesit/fyesit/2011/00000023/00000001/art00005

Bell, B. J. (2012). Assessing the effectiveness of an adventure-based First Year Experience class. Journal of College Student Development, 53(2). https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2012.0031

Bell, B. J., Gass, M. A., Nafziger, C. S., & Starbuck, J. D. (2014). The state of knowledge of outdoor orientation programs: Current practices, research, and theory. Journal of Experiential Education, 37(1), 31–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825913518891

Bell, B. J. & Chang, H. (2017). Outdoor orientation programs: A critical review of program impacts on graduation and retention. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership. Vol. 9, 1, p. 56-68.

Bell, B.J. & Ricker, C. (2018). When outdoor orientation program idioculture changes: Understanding student resistance. Research in Outdoor Education, 16, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1353/roe.2018.0001

Creswell & Miller, 2000. Creswell, J.W. and Miller, D.L. (2000). Determining Validity in Qualitative Inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39, 124-130. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip3903_2

Daniel, B., Bobilya, A.J., Kalisch, K.R. & McAvoy, L.H. (2014). Autonomous student experiences in outdoor and adventure education. Journal of Experiential Education, 37(1) 4-17, DOI: 10.1177/1053825913518892

Gass, M. A. (1984). The value of wilderness orientation programs at colleges and universities in the United States. ERIC Digests, ED#242-471.

Gass, M. A. (1987). The effects of a wilderness orientation program on college students. Journal of Experiential Education, 10(2), 30-33.

Gass, M. A. (1990). The longitudinal effects of an adventure orientation program on the retention of students. Journal of College Student Development, 31 (33-38).

Haas, K. (2002). Wilderness orientation: Then and now. Transitions: A Prescott College magazine for alumni, parents and friends. Prescott, AZ.

Hooke, D. O. (1987). Reaching that peak: 75 years of the Dartmouth Outing Club. Canaan, NH: Phoenix.

Miner, J. L., & Boldt, J. R. (1981). Outward Bound U.S.A.: Learning through experience in adventure-based education (1st ed.). New York: Morrow.

Mintz, S. (2021). Willful Blindness: higher ed trends that we ignore at our own peril. Inside Higher ED, retrieved February 24th, 2021 at: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-gamma/willful-blindness

Priest, S., & Gass, M.A. (2018). Effective leadership in adventure programming (3rd ed.).

Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Starbuck, J. D. & Bell, B.J. (2017). Outdoor Orientation Leaders: The effects of peer leadership. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership. Vol. 9, 3, p. 280-297. https://doi.org/10.18666/JOREL-2017-V9-I3-7488

Sullivan, D., Sprunger, B., & Williams, B. (1971). Effects of college sponsored special

programs on freshman performance. Unpublished Report, Wheaton College.

Vlamis, E, Bell, B.J., & Gass, M.A. (2011). Effects of a college adventure program on student development behaviors. Journal of Experiential Education, 34(2). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F105382591103400203

Wells, M. (1975). Factors influencing change during a wilderness stress experience.

Unpublished Masters Thesis, George Williams College, Downers Grove.

Downloads

Published

2022-02-23

Issue

Section

Regular Papers