Taproot: A Journal of Outdoor Education


Outdoor recreation programs and outdoor education programs share "common ground" - a similar purpose and programmatic focus on environmental awareness and ethics. As Ford ( 1981) has suggested, "there is very little difference between an education program and a recreation program" - both "contribute to the individual's ability to function effectively in society" (p. 50). Despite their similarities, education and recreation in the outdoors are traditionally separated, and one is emphasized over the other as the substance" of what is offered in a program. While they often contain a recreational element, environmental education programs tend to emphasize knowledge as an outcome and to focus primarily on teaching and learning about the non-human elements of the natural environment. These programs can contribute to a student's understanding of and attitudes towards the environment; but too strong an emphasis on learning may limit the individual's affection for the outdoors. Because recreation can provide an expanded and sharpened view of the natural world and help foster stewardship (Atkinson, 1990), incorporating recreation into environmental education programs can serve as an effective counterbalance. Recreational activities can both complement and supplement educational programming.