Group seeks to empower students through wilderness trip


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –Ten lucky Wilmington teens are getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime: a trip to Alaska.

The trip is possible thanks to two factors: the National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE), a nonprofit that provides outdoor adventures for teens and adults, and a grant from the National Parks Service.

NCOAE enables participating low-income students to thrive, grow and travel despite their financial hardships.

“We’ve all had our rough times, and these trips help you build character and truly be grateful for everything you’ve got,” said participating student Jack Canseco. “I couldn’t ask for anything else besides being on these trips.”

NCOAE Co-Founder Zac Adair says the trip, and the program, are about something much more important than sight-seeing: empowering the next generation of leaders.

“These kids deserve to be the next astronaut, scientist, outdoor educator, executive director, doctor, or lawyer. They just need a little extra push,” he said.

Zac and his partner, Celine Adair, founded NCOAE in 2009. It offers courses that focus on a variety of outdoor and wilderness survival skills such as mountaineering, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, surfing, sea kayaking, and camping.

But even though outdoor education is its method, Adair says changing lives is the program’s mission.

“We provide an opportunity, first and foremost, to keep them in school, to keep their grades up, to help them graduate from high school, and hopefully head off to a college or university if that’s what they choose to do. We do that just by taking them into wild places,” Adair said.

The foundation’s website states that it aims to create “leaders, problem-solvers, and self-sufficient explorers” as well as “help students develop the capacity to meet social challenges, solve problems, and make a positive difference in the world.”

Truly, an enriching experience for the ten Wilmington students.

While the grant will cover most of the trip’s expenses, each student still needs to raise a thousand dollars. If you’d like to help, contact Zac and Celine at the NCOAE website.

Categories: Community, Local, New Hanover, News

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