The Association for Experiential Education


July 2015

Workshop Highlight – Current Developments in Adventure Therapy: What Works and Why is this Important?

gassgillisMike Gass, recipient of the AEE’s Distinguished Career Research Award, Lee Gillis who has presented at the last quarter century of AEE conferences, and their esteemed colleagues Christine Norton, Anita Tucker, Keith Russell, and Steve Javorski are coming together in their 2015 AEE International presentation: Current Developments in Adventure Therapy: What Works and Why is this Important. The team will be presenting their research on how the field of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) can and must continue to validate its effectiveness through empirically conducted research and reports.  The team will be engaging with the participants in the workshop to facilitate a dialogue around how those passionate about the purpose, population, and possibilities of OBH programs can use current research to communicate its effectiveness to others including parents and folks in the insurance industry.

When speaking to Mike Gass about the importance of this presentation Mike communicated that we live in a time period where there has been a real push toward evidence based research and a need for more folks in adventure therapy and OBH to be able to communicate these findings in order to advocate for the field.  Mike talked about his excitement around the team’s new website which is a hub for folks in OBH and adventure therapy to gain access to the latest research in order to help them validate, substantiate and provide evidence in regards to the effectiveness of their programs.

“There are a lot of gatekeepers to our research and our findings,” Mike noted when speaking to him about the importance of the website, “we want to make access to our publications and research as easy and open as possible.”

The presentation at AEE will feature the research scientists from the not only presenting their research and findings but engaging folks who are in the field on how to use this knowledge to its maximum potential.  Mike noted that being able to use this research to communicate to insurance companies the validity of the practices allowed adventure therapy and OBH to become more accessible to more folks.  “It’s exciting to think that because of the research and findings that we have, and our abilities to communicate it, that we can allow more folks and families to access these treatments.”

Mike encourages folks to explore and to come on out to the AEE workshop presentation to engage with the team and have what is sure to be a profound and impactful dialogue with the group!  Who doesn’t wanna spend some time with these folks!

Read more about the all the workshops that will be presented and facilitated at the AEE International Conference in Portland, OR (Oct 22nd-24th) this year here!

Author:  Meg Bolger – co-creator of The Safe Zone Project and co-author of the forthcomingGuide to Facilitation

Workshop Highlight – Megan Bolger: (Trans*)Gender Inclusive Programming: How to Create an Inclusive Environment and Maximize Experiences for All

DSC_6889After speaking with Megan Bolger about her upcoming workshop at the AEE International Conference in Portland I have to say I am incredibly excited to see all that she has to bring to the discussion around social justice and Experiential Education.

Megan Bolger is a social justice entrepreneur, co-creator of the Safe Zone Project, co-author of the forthcoming Guide to Facilitation, and founder of Pride for All. She is a passionate social justice educator, trainer, and facilitator who’s always on the move. A self-proclaimed Social Justice kid, Meg has been working for seven years facilitating and educating on issues related to gender, sexuality and social justice. In this workshop Meg and her co-presenter, Perry Cohen will share narrative research on how trans and or gender non-conforming (GNC) students navigate outdoor education programs; highlighting successes and challenges unique to this population.

What to expect in the workshop: Review research, vocabulary focusing on gender, sex, gender presentation and sexual orientation; talk about common practices that may exclude individuals; strategize ways to create inclusive hiring and supportive environments and ways to communicate support of GNC and Trans students to clients and parents.

What will you take away? That’s up to you! But you should expect to gain a higher level of preparedness when working with and supporting your trans and GNC participants and students.

Author: Caitlin Leahy, Association for Experiential Education

Workshop Highlight – Karen Warren: Social Justice Allies in Adventure Programs

KarenWarrenKaren Warren may be the first name that many of us in the experiential education think of when we think of EE and social justice.  The 2014 Kurt Hahn addressee Karen will be continuing to share her passion and commitment to social justice with the AEE community at the 2015 conference with her presentation, “Social Justice Allies in Adventure Programs.”

Social justice allyship has been a hot topic this year not just within the AEE community but throughout the American media and many of our communities.  When speaking with Karen about her definition of allyship Karen shared that, a social justice ally is a person from a dominant group who acts in support of those from groups that experience discrimination and oppression.”  Karen went on to highlight that, “allyship has the potential to be mutually beneficial to both groups.  Allies question their unearned and often unconscious privilege in attempts to seek justice for all.”

Karen’s workshop promises to be a space where attendees will not only be able to become knowledgeable about the concepts of social justice and ally identity development, but will also be a space for attendees to practice productive allyship behaviors.  Having that opportunity to engage with new behaviors while in a controlled environment with others who are there to expand and learn is all too rare and incredibly important for our own social justice journey’.

Karen shared that she is most excited to use this workshop as an opportunity to be part of the social justice conversation happening at AEE this year and about social justice being given an even stronger platform through the theme this year.  As Karen spoke to in her Kurt Hahn address last year, “the field of experiential education risks being irrelevant unless we steadfastly address issues of social justice in our practice and organizations.”  Karen shared with me that she believes, “experiential educators are very energetic and resourceful people with strong commitments to do what is right,” and it is with that spirit in mind that she hopes to bring more tools and frameworks to the AEE community.

This workshop is open to all, regardless of prior exposure or knowledge level with social justice allyship or topics.  This workshop is one of the many this year that is so closely aligned with the conference’s theme: “Social Justice: Creating Change” that it has the words right in the title.  If you are looking for a place to begin or continue your own social justice journey Karen’s workshop is sure to be a great space.

Read more about Karen at –

Author – Megan Bolger

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