Research in Outdoor Education




Women undergraduates at military colleges are likely to experience challenges including heightened stress, isolation, and discrimination. Wilderness-based programs show promising outcomes in an array of areas including stress-coping, fitness motivation, self-efficacy, social support, and improved cognitive functioning. This mixed-methods exploratory study examined outcomes for 17 cadet women (N=17) who participated in a preparatory workshop series and backpacking event. Quantitative data indicated the backpacking workshop series was associated with decreases in perceived stress (p < .05). The backpacking trip was associated with increases in self-efficacy (p < .01). Cadets attributed decreases in perceived stress and increases in self-efficacy to interpersonal/intrapersonal factors and the wilderness/ backpacking experience. These results support the use of wilderness experience to bolster coping and wellness among cadet women.