Outdoor Adventure and Experiential Education and COVID-19: What Have We Learned?




Leonard, Aaron
Ewert, Alan
Lieberman-Raridon, Kodiak
Mitten, Denise
Rabinowitz, Erik
Deringer, Stephen A.
Schwartz, Forrest
Smith, Steve
Norton, Christine
Regentin, John

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Background: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) now known as COVID-19 changed the world and the outdoor adventure and experiential education (OAEE) fields were not immune. These changes significantly impacted various OAEE programs in multiple ways and at different levels of intensity. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to ascertain the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the OAEE fields and identify how OAEE organizations have responded to those impacts. Methodology/Approach: Using a three-phase study and a multi-method approach to data collection and analyses, respondents from 115 OAEE organizations (N=115) were asked to indicate how and in what ways their organizations have been impacted by the pandemic and in what ways their organizations have responded to those challenges. Findings/Conclusions: Many organizations responded not being ready for the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant impacts were noted from most of the OAEE organizations responding and included closings, staff reductions, and downsizing as well as operational changes. Many organizations reported ways they are attempting to mitigate the pandemic effects. Implications: Important questions were raised in this paper as to how well prepared the OAEE fields might be for the next crisis.



experiential education, wilderness therapy, outdoor behavioral healthcare, COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor adventure education, Social Work


Leonard, A. M., Ewert, A. W., Lieberman-Raridon, K., Mitten, D., Rabinowitz, E., Deringer, S. A., Schwartz, F., Smith, S., Norton, C. L., Regentin, J., Bagley, S., & Anderson, I. (2021). Outdoor adventure and experiential education and COVID-19: What have we learned? Journal of Experiential Education, pp. 1-23.


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