Project Adventure

Outdoor Education Timeline

Project Adventure
Historical Timeline

James Neill
Last updated:
17 May 2006

Compiled by James Neill, Ozgur Akbas, & Peter Lawry


1941: Kurt Hahn, a German social psychologist and an educator in Germany and Britain, implements Outward Bound in Aberdovey, Wales.


1950’s - 1960’s: Outward Bound expanded into the UK, Asia, Malaysia, Germany, Kenya, and Australia, then in 1960’s Outward Bound expanded into the USA, Canada, Singapore.


1963: First Outward Bound school in the USA,  Boulder, Colorado.


1970: Beginning of Project Adventure, as a result of a 3 year development project by Jerry Pieh (a high school principal – Hamilton-Wenham High School) and Gary Baker to mainstream Outward Bound into school curriculum. 


1971: Project Adventure received a grant to hire Outward Bound staff to begin planning the Project Adventure curriculum in Hamilton-Wenham High School.  This grant funded six full-time staff plus 10 full time trainers.  Bob Lentz was the first director of Project Adventure.


1972: The first indoor ropes course was built at Newburyport High School, Massachusetts, USA.


1974: Project Adventure receives the National Demonstration Site Award due to impressive evaluation reports by the federal Office of Education of National Demonstration of School Status.


1974: Adventure Based Counseling (the therapeutic application of Project Adventure's adventure programming curriculum) in an Action Seminar began for special needs students.


1974: An outpatient therapy group was started through Paul Radcliffe, a Project Adventure trained school psychologist, and Mary Smith, a Project Adventure staff member at the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Massachusetts.


1977: Karl Rohnke authors "Cowstails & Cobras".


1979: The first Adventure-Based Counseling Workshop was offered.  Over 30 people attended the four day workshop which included people from residential clinics and hospitals, therapeutic camps and drug treatment centers, school counselors, psychologists, and alternative school teachers.


1980: Karl Rohnke replaced Bob Lentz as director of Project Adventure.  Karl guided the evolution of ropes courses, as well as creative games, initiatives, elements, and stunts that were essential to the Project Adventure Curriculum.


1980:  Formation of Association for Experiential Education (AEE).


1980-1983: Adventure-Based Counseling (ABC) developed a curriculum with the funding of a Massachusetts State Department of Education grant.  This put Adventure-Based Counseling with special needs students on the same level as the original Project Adventure work.


1981-82: Dick Prouty replaced Karl Rohnke as the Project Adventure Director (and has continued as Director through to present).


1981: Project Adventure was incorporated as a non-profit organization.


1981: Project Adventure separated from the Hamilton-Wenham school due to increasing growth.


1981: Project Adventure started a Southern office in Savannah, Georgia, and later moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1984.  The Project Adventure staff experienced an increased need for Project Adventure services soon after the move was made.


1982: Ten-year safety completed.


1982: Therapeutic Project Adventure began using the ABC model with a short-term residential adolescent group as a result of Project Adventure’s work with the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia led by Rick Thomas and Project Adventure staff members Paul Radcliffe and Jim Schoel.  By 1989, over 100 hospitals implemented a variety of the ABC model.


1984: Karl Rohnke authors "Silver Bullets".


1985: The Culpepper Foundations of New York City funded Project Adventure’s proposal to research and write a new curriculum for the ABC field under the direction of Jim Schoel, with Paul Radcliffe, and Dick Prouty assisting.  They authored the text, "Islands of healing: A guide to adventure based counseling", which would guide future workshops, and establish Project Adventure's credibility in therapeutic adventure programming.


1985: Ann Smolowe teamed with Project Adventure to develop a corporate staff development model with the goal being to train others in adventure based corporate training skills, and also to stimulate greater revenue received from other companies.


1985: The Project Adventure mission statement was designed: “to be the leading organization helping others use adventure education as a catalyst for personal/professional growth and change.”


1986: Fifteen-year safety study completed.  Results showed that there were fewer injuries in the Project Adventure curriculum than there were in the standard Physical Education class.


1987: Project Adventure were contracted by Exxon shipping to train groups of company facilitators in team building and skill training.


1989: Karl Rohnke authors "Cowstails and Cobras II".


1989: Project Adventure Australia was founded.


1988: Project Adventure Inc. (USA) had grown to a staff of 37 full time people, with 50 National Certified Trainers.


1990: Project Adventure built over 100 ropes courses this year in addition to the previous 1000 courses built since PA’s beginning.


1995: Karl Rohnke an & S. Butler author "QuickSilver".


1995: Project Adventure Japan was founded.


1998: Karl Rohnke and Jim Grout author "Back Pocket Adventure".


1999: Two year grant ($35,000) awarded to Project Adventure “to support the curriculum development and implementation of Project Adventure’s new Center for Environmental Leadership program.  The project will help students and teachers build an understanding of their environment and empower them to act on its behalf” (Horizon Foundation Grants Made in December 1999).


2002: Project Adventure offers Practitioner Certification (technician, facilitator, and manager) to Project Adventure members.  Schoel and Maizell release "Exploring islands of healing: New perspectives on adventure based counseling".


2003: Project Adventure works with James Neill and a graduate class at the University of New Hampshire to develop an annotated bibliography and review of past Project Adventure research literature.