Transforming Learning through Outdoor Adventure Education: A Breakwater Expedition's Perspective
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Transforming Learning through Outdoor Adventure Education: A Breakwater Expedition's Perspective

Hello, everyone! Fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a fascinating journey through the realms of outdoor adventure education with Breakwater Expeditions. Join us as Angie, the vibrant co-owner, shares the distinctive experiences that her team curates for adventure enthusiasts around the globe.


Think of Breakwater as the wild, adventurous cousin of your typical summer camps or after-school activities. This isn’t just everyday fun, but a whole new level of immersive experiences. Breakwater was born out of a desire to harness the wilderness therapy expertise of its creators to reach more people than ever!

It all started in 2012 with humble beginnings as a conduit for family and parent-child trips. Seeing its success and the transformative experiences it brought for participants, the Breakwater team decided to amp it up a notch. Today, they organize around 25 to 30 incredible journeys annually, ranging from overnight adventures to week-long escapades - all designed to create meaningful and lasting memories.

Their principle is simple – water is for everyone. Operating from Alaska to Florida throughout the year, this troop ensures that nobody is left out from their expeditions, which are mainly on bodies of water. Angie and her crew have a firm belief: everyone can float!

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The exciting news for parents planning ahead is that in the summer of 2024, children from across the globe can partake in these exceptional expeditions. Quests are designed with provisions for safety, and they encompass what a journey starting from home can look like.

But let's delve deeper, and take a sneak peek into what exactly these exciting escapades entail.

Breakwater organizes three distinct expeditions for children during the summers. Structured with small intervals between each, kids can participate in more than one adventure.

The first trip on offer, "River and Rocks," spans 10 days from June 27 to July 6, 2024. Commencing and concluding in Salt Lake City, the journey kick-starts with a canoe expedition and canyoneering in the breathtaking landscapes of Moab, Utah.

The fun continues to escalate with Breakwater's next trip, “Boots and Paddle.” This 14-day adventure runs from July 8 to July 21, 2024, starting from Bozeman, Montana. It offers an electrifying route packed with a backpacking expedition in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, a soothing hot spring soak in Bozeman, and a canoeing adventure along the tranquil Missouri River. To add a dash of excitement, there's also a day dedicated to white-water rafting in Missoula, Montana. It’s indeed a transformative experience that kids will treasure for a lifetime.

The third and final expedition, “Ocean Odyssey,” goes above and beyond, transporting children to Sandpoint, Idaho, for an enchanting seven-day journey from July 23 to July 29, 2024. The trip entails a thrilling sea kayaking experience in the San Juan Islands, up north of Seattle. Could there be anything more exciting?

Parents can access all trip details and itineraries on the Breakwater Expeditions website for these summer adventures of 2024.

Unsurprisingly, a key point that comes up is the growth and transition visible in children attending these camps. Navigating from initial apprehensions to tangible personal growth, the journey is enriching and transformative. The biggest hurdle most kids face is the fear of being disconnected from their technology. The Breakwater team addresses this with sensitivity, fostering a mature conversation about their digital habits.

Addressing phone usage is an essential facet of Breakwater's preparation. Both the child and the parent are part of a conversation about the best way to manage the necessary disconnect while on the trip. Reassuring kids about when they'll regain phone access is an effective way of mitigating uncertainty and establishing a comfortable environment. After all, the trips are intentionally unplugged because of the remote locations without cell service.

Understandably, certain degrees of nervousness often accompany the initial part of these expeditions since children are stepping into an unfamiliar environment, often without any acquaintances. Furthermore, they face reasonable concerns over forming friendships or fitting in the group. Breakwater's experienced guides understand these initial apprehensions and focus on acclimating the children gradually, fostering a nurturing group dynamic with shared learning experiences.

One of the most transformative aspects of these trips is the hands-on learning and mutual educational experience it brings. As children embark on unfamiliar tasks such as camping for the first time, the guides impart necessary skills at the beginning, gradually encouraging the children to assist each other and build on these skills throughout the trip.

The impact of this learning approach is multi-faceted. For instance, some children may struggle with organizing their gear, often having things misplaced or scattered. This presents a learning avenue not just for the child in question but also for others, as they realize the effect of disorganization on group dynamics. It creates a peer environment where children naturally improve their skills, driven by team spirit and the desire to contribute positively to the group. The peer-based learning ministers to goal achievement without shame or criticism, transforming obstacles into learning experiences.

Of course, as children disconnect from their usual tech-connected life, parents might feel anxious and concerned about their child's safety and well-being. Breakwater takes several measures to ensure the highest safety standards and to ease parents' worries. The destinations chosen for the trips are familiar terrains for the guides, as they regularly hike them and navigate the same sections of rivers. The guides, trained as wilderness first responders, can anticipate potential problems and are equipped to handle emergencies. They carry necessary gear, satellite phones, and GPS units, even in scenarios where they might not be used, like a bug tarp in Yellowstone.

The guides maintain regular communication with the course director, allowing parents to relay any urgent information that the child needs to be aware of. If a situation arises at home, parents can relay the issue through the course director to the guides, keeping the communication lines open even in remote areas.

In essence, Breakwater expeditions nurture learning and growth, fostering a conducive environment for children to step out of their comfort zones, learn from their peers, and, most importantly, connect with nature away from the world of technology.

Breakwater prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience through its outdoor adventure education programs, meticulously tailoring them to accommodate the individual interests and investments of each participant. Rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all educational curriculum, Breakwater stimulates students to plunge into their passions—wildlife, nature, history, or interpersonal skills included. This distinctive, interest-driven learning module sets Breakwater's educational approach in outdoor adventure education apart.

Take for example, a student fascinated by wildlife. They get the chance to learn about bison during the "Boots and Paddle" trip through Yellowstone, triggering curious interactions about their presence in the park, absences on certain trails, and migratory behaviors. Such dialogues ignite the innate curiosity that youth carry, transforming learning through outdoor adventure education into an absorbing, interactive journey.

This is not restricted to the sphere of wildlife alone, as other diverse topics like the history of Lewis and Clark also form part of the educational rainbow Breakwater covers. In essence, the teaching approach fosters substantial skill development - from paddling to backpacking and living in the wilderness. Breakwater ensures an enriching blend of fundamental skill-building, sprinkled with an array of intriguing information that the students can engage with and learn from. Any question that the instructors can't answer during the trip is noted for a Google search once the students have phone access again, essentially bridging their in-field experiences with their technologically connected lives.

Breakwater also continuously seeks to broaden its horizon of experiences. A case in point being their interest in incorporating unique winter trips, potentially providing teens with an engaging way to spend their winter breaks. They have been exploring options such as Costa Rica due to its safety, accessibility, and adventurous attractions where itineraries involve staying in hotels and participating in exciting activities, rather than typical camping.

Past experiences have included journeys to places like the Everglades and Big Bend in Texas. However, they aim to focus their energies on warmer areas during winter, making Costa Rica a fitting choice.

To summarize, Breakwater's philosophy roots in fostering an organic learning environment that encourages students to explore their interests while imparting essential survival skills. Simultaneously, they are continuously seeking unique experiences to provide variety and cater to the recreational preferences of their students.

Unquestionably, Breakwater is paving the way for a unique and fruitful learning endeavor that goes beyond the boundaries of traditional classrooms. With their customized adventure programs, they strive to offer individualized experiences to cater to the distinct needs and interests of children and their families.

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Their programs offer an alternative for families who may not be ready to send their children away on their own yet. For instance, suggesting sibling trips as a stepping stone towards independent trips. There's also an option for family trips to meet their kids at the end of their journey, providing an opportunity for young participants to share and teach what they've learned during their time with Breakwater. The firm belief here is that these experiences, however daunting they may seem at first, are easy to learn and fruitful in the long run.

The most rewarding outcome of these trips, according to Angie, is not just the practical skills and knowledge that the children gain, but the significant boost to their confidence and resilience. This is aptly encapsulated in the smiles they carry, the ability to enjoy the moment without being glued to their phones, and the unforgettable shared experiences with peers that are unique to every child.

Indeed, the big takeaway from this conversation is that everyone should try an immersive adventure like this at least once in their lifetimes - experience the outdoors, delve into learning that is driven by curiosity, and make memories that last a lifetime.

For those who are interested and wish to know more, Breakwater can be found on their website,, or via email at As Angie aptly encourages, don't hesitate to ask questions - there's none that's deemed dumb.

Breakwater leaves us with an exciting prospect for the future of education, one that is rooted in nature, personalized to individual inclinations, and a confidence-instilling journey of learning and growth. As we wrap up, we extend our best wishes to Angie and the Breakwater team, looking forward to the adventurous charges they have in store for 2024 and beyond.

Read or watch or listen to our Podcast with Breakwater Expeditions

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