COVID-19 Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE) Research Committee
Contact Information: Aaron Leonard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-961-0754
A Study of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Adventure and Experiential Education Organizations
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), now known as COVID-19, has changed the way the world works, and the adventure and experiential education fields (AEE) are no exception. The purpose of this study is to systematically gather the collective wisdom of program leadership (CEO, CFO, executive directors, risk and safety management directors, etc.) on the near- and long-term viability of their programs, the changes they have made or will likely make in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they envision remaining sustainable.
- No organization was prepared for a pandemic and no organization has figured out how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic without measurable impact to their operations and clients.
- No organization has determined when the pandemic will no longer affect their operations and all operational organizations have adopted COVID-19 policies.
- Organizations indicated they sought early advice and solutions from ACA, AEE, AORE, WRMC, etc.
- All organizations that had provided client transportation indicate that they either no longer do so or have reduced capacity.
- When asked if and how organizations have incorporated virtual technology (VT) respondents provided mixed reviews with some responding that they have no plans to incorporate any VT in their program. Respondents indicate that the use of VT is both temporary and dependent on the type of activity being replaced. No organization has indicated that VT is a permanent replacement for outdoor activities.
Top Six Risk Management Questions and Concerns
- How to mitigate physical and emotional risk.
- How to respond to a client or staff member developing symptoms during a program or testing positive for COVID-19 during or following a program.
- How to safely mitigate COVID-19 transmission where social distancing standards are difficult to implement or supervise.
- How to prevent or lessen the likelihood of their program being closed by a health department or similar agency.
- Concerns regarding staff availability due to increased risk at the workplace.
- Increased barriers to participation due to COVID-19 risk management protocols, e.g., no longer providing transportation.
The committee will release information via the Association for Experiential Education and Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education websites.
In Phase 4 the committee will begin the writing process on topics such as: Risk Management, Nearby Nature, and Organizational Resiliency. We will also share how the field can access and use the information from our study.
The Outdoor Adventure Education COVID-19 Research Committee was organized and led by Alan Ewert, PhD Indiana University, and Aaron Leonard, Prescott College and the Sierra Club.
The other members of the committee are: