Outdoor Orientation Leaders: The Effects of Peer Leadership


  • J. David Starbuck Premier, Inc.
  • Brent J. Bell University of New Hampshire




outdoor orientation, leadership development, student development, outdoor education, outdoor leadership, self-efficacy


In this study, we investigated how student (peer) leaders of college outdoor orientation programs understand the effects of their leadership experience on personal growth and development. We collected data through in-depth interviews of 36 first-time student leaders at four colleges. Findings indicate that the majority of students at all four colleges placed high value on their leadership experiences. Students reported that the experience led to positive changes. The experiences of the leaders are explained in a four-stage model. Student leaders believe the outdoor leadership experience increased confidence to face adversity, increased confidence in exercising one’s voice appropriately, and increased leadership self-efficacy. Students also reported a positive change in interpersonal growth, describing a better ability to work well with others and facilitate social situations. Within faith-based programs, leaders also reported significant spiritual growth.

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Author Biographies

J. David Starbuck, Premier, Inc.

Business Development Manager

Brent J. Bell, University of New Hampshire

Associate Professor of Kinesiology: Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire.


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