AORE Association News September 2016 - Page 7

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I feel pretty strongly in the years I have been involved in international outdoor trips that it needs to have something more than just a more expensive, flashy destination. These trips need to incorporate activity as well as the culture. International outdoor trips might not be as backcountry as other trips our programs run, but students want the experience to be more than just the activity—they want culture and recreation. It is the cultural interaction that justifies international trips for me. Otherwise I can just run programs in the United States at a lower cost. We really need to start thinking about how our international programs are more than just a high profile destination.

What do you think International Outdoor Adventure travel can contribute to college and university outdoor programs?

Having the experience of interacting with the people and culture of the area we travel in both formally and informally. A lot of students who come on our trips have not travelled internationally much. There is a feeling of adventure in travelling in another country, even just getting on the plane to go is exciting, and we want participants to have the same excitement they have on one of our backpacking trips through international travel. I’ll also say that international trips are normally longer in length and there is a higher level group dynamic that we just don’t normally get on shorter trips.

What were the goals of the trip?

The broad goal was to talk about college outdoor programs in the United States that are both credit and non-credit based. I quickly realized the concept of our style outdoor programs was foreign. We had to focus on how we put the programs together and what the outcomes are for students. We had to communicate about why outdoor recreation is important. Doctor Li Li Ji emphasized that we talk about ways to be active beyond just doing exercises. This is challenging in China as so many students focus so intently on academics. The Chinese government is trying to find ways to get students to be more active and outdoor recreation is one of these ways. We spoke not just about the activities, but how outdoor recreation is connected to wellness.

If there was one outcome participants on an International Outdoor trip gained on a trip you were leading, what would you want it to be?

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