No missed opportunities

Jan 3rd, 2014

Michelle Osmond

Dr. TA Loeffler on Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak
No missed opportunities

This was Dr. Loeffler’s second International Outdoor Education Research Conference; her first happened in Denmark in 2011. The next one will be held in Canada in 2015/16. “It seems to be a tradition that I try to climb to the country high point where the International Outdoor Education Research Conference is held so I guess that means I'll be going for Mount Logan in 2015 or 16. I will go back and give Mount Cook another go in the future. I loved visiting New Zealand and only had "an appetizer" visit since I only spent an extra week there after the conference.”

At the conference, Dr. Loeffler presented preliminary results from her ongoing study Expeditions well lived: Ascertaining the meaning and significance of outdoor expeditions throughout the lifespan using photo-elicitation. She presented some results from the study such as factors participants cited that got them involved and skilled in outdoor pursuits; factors such as reading outdoor exploration literature and unstructured time in nature as children.

“It's a tremendous conference where outdoor education researchers from around the globe attend and present. There is always a strong Canadian contingent and we always laugh that we have to travel half way around the world to see each other. I believe there were 20 countries represented in the 120 attendees.”

She learned about cutting edge research in outdoor education, new methodologies for research and teaching, and “enjoyed lots of informal conversation over meals.” She also learned that, given she does research in such a small field, journal citations are a matter of perspective. “One paper at the conference presented citation patterns in the field of outdoor education. They found the most heavily cited paper was cited 129 times … We estimated that there are likely only 150-200 outdoor education researchers actively doing research at the moment. That paper in particular, helped me put my work and discipline in perspective.”

Dr. Loeffler says her favourite part of climbing on Mount Cook was climbing Lydia Bradey, the first woman to summit Mount Everest without oxygen. “She coached and mentored me throughout the climb and I appreciated all of the conversations she and I had about women doing extreme pursuits. A snowstorm did make the route extra difficult and we stopped climbing 700 metres shy of the summit. We also spent two days working on technical rock climbing skills and I spent a day canyoning. I always appreciate getting out with other climbers because it keeps my climbing and teaching skills sharp.”

Dr. Loeffler is still looking more participants to interview for her study; folks over 50 who've gone on a seven day expedition/outdoor trip in the last year. People interested in participating can contact her via email