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"I've not been miserable... at all."

These were the words one of my students uttered on the evening of day four of a five-day backpacking trip in the Escalante National Recreation Area. These words, which seem so rare in regards to the experience of teenagers in our society, rang true for our entire trip. We laughed our way through five days in the heart of Utah, content that the intention the students had planned the trip with was manifesting itself as the experience we'd hoped for. The students had spent the past seven weeks preparing themselves for this trip, and now all their hard work was bearing fruit. They'd turned the freedom they'd been given before the trip into an awareness of themselves and their surroundings. This had led them to the insights that were necessary in creating a purposeful experience for themselves. They'd come a long way since class began...

Over the last seven years, I've probed the question of how to empower young people to relish the outdoors from many different angles and have come to the conclusion that including it within the high school curriculum is one really productive and effective step. While this may sound challenging in a time when so many school budgets are declining, I've found a school that values its outdoor program right alongside its academic curriculum.


  • Introduction
  • Realms of Inquiry
  • ROI Lightweight Backpacking Course, 2009
  • Overview of the Graduation Trip, 2009
  • Conclusion

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# PHOTOS: 19

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