In 1861, Frederick and Abigail Gunn took their Washington, CT, home school students on a two-week trip. They hiked to their destination and set up camp. Boating, fishing and trapping filled their days. It was so successful the Gunns continued the trips for 12 years. The Gunnery Camp is considered the first organized American camp.
Today, an estimated 10 million youth annually benefit from summer camp at more than 12,000 camps. 75% of the camps are run by non-profit organizations while 45% of the camps serve children with physical and mental challenges.
Camps are run by
·External organizations: American Cancer Society
·Religious: Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Salvation Army
·Youth Serving: YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts
·For profit companies
While camping has been growing for over 140 years, Experiential Education (EE) is less than 40 years old. In the early 70'S, a group of educators met in Boone, NC. The discussion centered on finding ways to make education more relevant for students. The educators believed that experiential forms of education enhance learning.
It should be noted that in the 1960's Larry Dean Olsen and Ezekiel Sanchez, while at Brigham Young University, co-founded the Anasazi program. Many credit them as the fathers of this industry. www.anasazi.org
Today OEE has a broad definition.. A program could be a school class' day trip to a farm or a 42-day wilderness journey. In reviewing provider websites, the same words and concepts are repeated:
·Spontaneous opportunities for learning
·Form the basis for future experience and learning
In varying degrees, participants are exposed to:
·Learning outdoor skills
Experiential Education is worldwide. TheAssociation For Experiential Education (http://www.aee.org) now has 2,000 members (individuals and organizations) in 35 countries. The membership is comprised of individuals and organizations from:
·Outdoor adventure programming
·Management development training
·Programming for people with disabilities
Sample the Experience: The Connecticut Wilderness School has a video covering a 20 day wilderness program and its impact.. It is 27 minutes in duration. Sit back and reflect. This link will take you to the CWS home page. Look for Wilderness School DVD under Slide Show - Fall 2008 at bottom of page