Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, Montreat College is at the base of some of the Southeast’s most iconic adventures. But location aside, the outdoor education curriculum at the college is top-notch. As one of the final two schools representing in the Championship round of our Top Adventure College Tournament, we spoke with Dr. Brad Daniel, Chair of the Outdoor Education Department at Montreat, and a few of his students to get a better idea about what the college has to offer the adventurous spirit.
What makes Montreat an ideal school for adventurous students?
BD: Montreat is a contraction of “mountain retreat” and it is aptly named. Located 13 miles east of Asheville, NC., we are close to four wilderness areas, four N.C. state parks, several rivers that provide great whitewater paddling opportunities, and numerous rockclimbing locations including Linville Gorge. Our campus sits at the beginning of a 14-mile trail/road that ascends to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only an hour away.
How long has Montreat had an outdoor program?
BD: The outdoor program started in the mid-70s at what was then a junior college known as Montreat-Anderson. The program started as a two year A.S. Degree in Outdoor Recreation and a 20-day Christian-oriented Outward Bound-type wilderness expedition called Discovery. The first Discovery expedition went out in 1976. In 2016 will celebrate our 40th year of wilderness programming, making it one of the longer college-sponsored extended wilderness programs in the United States.
What outdoor-related degrees, majors, and minors does Montreat offer?
BD: Currently, our students can major in Outdoor Education or Outdoor Ministry at the undergraduate level. Our minors include Outdoor Education, Outdoor Ministry, Leadership, and Adventure-Based Counseling. At the graduate level, we offer a Master of Science in Environmental Education. We also offer a certificate in Wilderness Leadership. Through the coursework students can move towards being certified through the Wilderness Education Association, the Association for Challenge Course Technology, and the state of North Carolina’s Environmental Education Certification Program.
The Students’ Point-of-View
How has the outdoor program at Montreat helped you grow over the course of your attendance?
Daniel Harmon: The Outdoor Education (OE) program has helped me grow by forcing me to become the leader I knew I could be, but was afraid to turn into. Through the constant class content and required leading of small groups, I have found the courage to accept that I am a person that can not only handle leadership, but also make a difference in the lives of those I lead.
Jamie Sullivan: Since being enrolled at Montreat College as an Outdoor Education and Outdoor Ministry major I have been particularly challenged to develop my teaching and leading skills. I have not only had the chance to learn the philosophies but also been able to go out into the community and practice them. Montreat College has many partnerships with local schools and camp programs in the area which provides us as students a chance to practice our newfound skills on others in a safe environment. This has been particularly helpful as me as I can receive feedback and adapt my skills and philosophy before I take on a full time role after graduation.
Kara Smith: This program has helped me grow spiritually first and foremost. I’ve had the opportunity to grow in my faith drastically and it’s because my professors are great leaders in that aspect and always incorporate faith and learning. Second, my ability to be an effective teacher is where I’ve also grown a lot. From needs assessment to preparing and implementing lessons I feel confident in my teaching skills.