Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) are programs designed to enhance leadership and personal growth through challenging experiences in nature, including rock climbing, sailing, and kayaking. Participants in OAE often report that they were transformed by their experiences, but little is known about how such transformations occur.
D'Amato and Krasny interviewed 23 former OAE participants to explore how their significant experiences enhanced their personal growth and to a lesser degree their pro-environmental behaviors. By interpreting the data through the lens of transformative learning theory, these researchers found that participants attribute the most meaningful experiences to "living in pristine nature, experiencing a different lifestyle, being part of the course community, and dealing with the intensity and challenges of the course." Interview results also suggest that OAE courses "might integrate personal growth with instrumental learning to better foster environmental behaviors post-course."
SOURCE: D'Amato, L. G., and M. E. Krasny. 2011. Outdoor adventure education: applying transformative learning theory to understanding instrumental learning and personal growth in environmental education. Journal of environmental education 42:237-253.