A useful conceptualization of the
purposes of adventure programs was developed by Priest and Gass (1997).
They proposed four types of programs:
Recreational programs aim to change the way people feel.
The purpose is leisure, fun and enjoyment, e.g., surfing for pleasure.
Educational programs aim to change the way people feel and think.
The purpose is to learn skills and/or information, e.g., learning how to surf
classes or geography field trips.
Developmental programs aim to to change way people feel, think and behave.
The purpose is is to undergo personal growth, e.g., a surfing program in which the goal was to push
personal limits, test endurance, develop personal goal setting, self-discipline, and build individual's self-esteem, etc.)
Therapeutic / Redirectional programs
aim to change the way people feel, think, behave, and resist. The purpose
is correct an individual or group problem, e.g., a low security prison may
conduct surfing classes and work on a beach habitat restoration program as part
of a pre-release detention program for inmates)
In addition to Priest and Gass' four purposes, these other purposes of
outdoor education programs are also common:
Physical goals include physical fitness, weight loss, balanced dietary
intake, physical movement and physical and health well-being. Physical
goals may be preventative, educational, developmental, and/or rehabilitative
Spiritual programs aim to help development of spiritual knowledge
and experience (e.g., many Church and Religious groups conduct camps for young
people with a combination of spiritual instruction and other goals, such as fun
Family / Group / Community oriented programs aim to change the way a particular dyad, small group
or community are functioning (as opposed to individual). The unit of
interest/analysis in this case is not the individual. Team productivity
and school climate are examples.
Environmental goals include having a positive impact on a specific ecosystem
(e.g., native vegetation regeneration), environmental education knowledge (e.g.,
local area knowledge through to awareness about global climate change), and
Priest, S., & Gass, M. (1997).
Effective leadership in
adventure programming. Champaign, IL: Human