The Outdoor Approach
In White Stag, we use the outdoors to teach leadership skills. We strive to do nothing indoors that can be done outdoors. Our goal is to provide a variety of hands-on experiences that require outdoors knowledge and encourage physical fitness by vigorous exercise of the mind and body. The outdoors provides a context for learning entirely different from that usually available at home or in school, a context that stresses adventure.The program takes place outdoors for the same reasons that boys and girls everywhere like to go camping:
While our program is conducted in a camp setting, White Stag is not a recreational camp, and it is not our primary purpose to teach outdoor skills. They are a means to an end, a vehicle for opening up a participant's mind to new experiences and way of learning. For example, you may learn how to pack a backpack, or cook a meal, but the ultimate purpose is to build group unity and teach leadership skills in the process. When you learn new skills, you increase your feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem. You will not have much free time, but you will have a lot of fun.
It also gives you a chance to learn about nature and appreciate the outdoors world for what it has to offer. We help you to build and live in an outdoors camp with the least equipment possible and minimum impact on nature. We use the outdoor setting for waterfront activities, instructional games, and campfire programs. We sandwich into the fun activities sessions on leadership, which you then get to use during the next activity.
The outdoors skills are also a vehicle to help the group members learn more about each other. Challenged to cook a meal as a group, group members rapidly learn who has the necessary sckills, and they begin to teach each other these outdoor living skills.
Learning outdoors has additional benefits. Some youth do not do well in traditional school settings and traditional learning activities. They often get a lot more from the outdoors experience and hands-on learning activities. Outdoors education encourages you to play an active part in the learning process. It provides ready opportunities for you to get involved in group projects.
Learning in the outdoors can help you focus. Camping, hiking, playing games, and other outdoor activities will get you tired, and then help you pay attention to learning experiences that you might otherwise dismiss. Working together outdoors as a team gives group members plenty of opportunities to learn the need to improve their leadership skills, and they are more motivated to pay attention when appropriate instruction is provided.
Outdoors experiences can challenge you to complete physical challenges that exceed your initial comfort zone. When you accept and complete a challenge, your self-esteem and self-respect rises. You will learn that when you apply yourself to a difficult challenges, you can overcome when you persevere.
In using the outdoors, we create learning hurdles that require physical activity, help you stretch their pschological and physical limits, and demand group cooperation for success.
We always go to great lenghts to insure the health and safety of everyone. All of our leaders are required to complete ongoing health and safety training. They supervise all activities and make sure everyone stays safe. And when someone gets a bee sting or a blister, we have life guards and medical staff, including nurses and EMTs, on every Phase.