Education Without Walls is a prosocial outdoor education and mentorship program that provides academic and life skills guidance for motivated teens with financial needs. By merging meaningful outdoor adventures with ongoing mentorship we help aspiring students achieve their academic and personal goals.

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Famed 19th-century self-promoter Phineas T. Barnum often opined that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And while that philosophy certainly worked well for the American circus owner, we here at The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE) have discovered that a little promotion for a genuinely good cause can go even further.

We scored some valuable press coverage recently, and we weren’t a bit shy about our self-promoting efforts. The result was a seven-minute video-enhanced piece of journalism titled Beyond the Classroom, beautifully produced by EducationNC, an independent source of news, data, and analysis of education for the people of North Carolina. EdNC’s content encourages the public’s participation and leadership on behalf of school children in this state.

With kids’ education top of mind, we reached out to EdNC, suggesting the news organization might want to send a reporter or two to investigate our Education Without Walls program. Education Without Walls is NCOAE’s not-for-profit subsidiary. It is a wilderness-based outdoor education program for teenagers, many of whom — through no fault of their own — live at or below the federal poverty level.

Following a number of phone conversations between our administrators and theirs — as well as a few face-to-face meetings and invites to view some of our previously produced videos — EdNC committed to send Robert Kinlaw, a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker, along with Alex Granados, a researcher and legislative reporter for EducationNC, to our headquarters in Wilmington, N.C., to join us on two of our five-day Education Without Walls wilderness adventures.

The two trips — one a sea kayaking adventure and the other a backpacking trek — were brilliantly captured on film, along with interviews with NCOAE staff members and their young charges.

As you’ll see below, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results, and we truly appreciate EdNC’s coverage of Education Without Walls.

Beyond the Classroom from Robert Kinlaw on Vimeo.

If you enjoy the video and are favorably impressed with Education Without Walls, we’re going to step up again and do some more self-promotion. We’re going to ask you to consider making a charitable donation to Education Without Walls by helping enroll a deserving member of the community in an upcoming wilderness outing.

As the video demonstrates, these students do far more than just learning how to set up a tent or cook outdoors. Our program teaches these deserving youth how to identify and improve their decision-making and communications skills, with many of them experiencing a sense of self-worth for the first time in their young lives. So, we urge you to make a donation to NCOAE for Education Without Walls today.

Here are a few options for donating:

  • Make a Gift-in-Kind. We’re always in need of new outdoor gear. Equipment wears out and Education Without Walls is expanding. Call us at (910) 399-8090 and let us tell you about our wish list.
  • Volunteer Your Expertise. Each of you possesses a unique set of skills and talents. Let’s have a conversation. Tell us how you’d like to help. Call us today at (910) 399-8090.
  • Share Our Message. Get the word out. Tell your friends and family about the good work we do. Approach people who have a passion for education, the outdoors and helping people youth get a head start on all that life has in store.
  • Share This Blog Post: Join us in some promotion of your own. Send this blog post to your friends and relatives and urge them to get involved in the future of these North Carolina youngsters who deserve the best education possible.
  • Make a Donation: You knew we’d ask, and since Education Without Walls is a not-for-profit subsidiary of The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, your cash donation is considered tax deductible nu the IRS. To make a donation or inquire about the covering the cost of one student to participate in Education Without Walls, call us today at (910) 399-8090.

‘Beyond The Classroom’ Focuses on NCOAE’s Education Without Walls Program

In The News

January 17, 2019

Celine Adair


Over the past two summers, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) has received a total of nearly $9,000 from Island Women, Inc., a group of savvy, talented and passionate women who live in nearby Pleasure Island, N.C.  Island Women is a not-for-profit organization that’s on a mission to enhance the quality of life on Pleasure Island, which is located just five minutes south of NCOAE’s headquarters facilities in Wilmington.

The generous donation (totaling $8,874) was designated by the local group to be used in NCOAE’s not-for-profit subsidiary, Education Without Walls — an outdoor- and adventure-based program that provides academic and life skill guidance for high school kids living at or below the Federal Poverty Level. The end goal of our program is to motivate and support low-income students in identifying and achieving their potential.Among many other commitments, Island Women promotes education, cultural expression, and mentoring among women. In our case, Island Women’s members were interested in our Education Without Walls program after NCOAE Co-Founder Celine Adair was invited to address the organization in the summer of 2016.

Celine described how the majority of our Education Without Walls participants have not led easy lives, with few coming home each night to both biological parents. Many live with single mothers or fathers, while others live with a grandparent, an older brother or sister, or are being cared for by foster parents.

Many have even experienced the loss of family members to suicide, drugs, incarceration, and despair. Of course, many of those who are in charge of these youngsters suffer their own issues and tragedies, making them unable to provide even the briefest respite or relief from the poverty these youngsters experience on a daily basis. Most of these kids tell us they have never enjoyed so much as a family “road trip” or a weekend camping adventure.

And that’s where Education Without Walls comes into focus, by providing effective personal and academic growth experiences through outdoor education. In short, professionally managed and guided outdoor & experiential education experiences have been proven to mitigate a multitude of negative impacts and instead, provide positive and productive impressions to high-risk youngsters.

As a result of that chat before a group of 50 to 60 ladies that summer day in 2016, Island Women voted to support our Education Without Walls program in both 2017 and 2018.

Over the past two years, local middle and high school students have enjoyed summer adventures that go far beyond their expectations, and it’s all made possible in part because of the generous grants from Island Women.

We are so fortunate that Island Women’s members chose to focus some of their efforts on local kids and education, as doing so has made a world of difference through the offering of life-changing outdoor experiences for youth who often them the most.

If you would like to learn more about Island Woman, visit their website at

If you’d like to support the next generation of talented and promising youth from low income families identify and achieve their potential, then please contact our Co-founder and Director of Operations, Celina Adair at our national headquarters (910-399-8090) or drop her note by email using celine at ncoae dot org. Education Without Walls teens participate in multi-day adventures that introduced them to kayaking on the Cape Fear River, surfing at Carolina Beach, rock climbing in Pilot Mountain State Park, mountaineering in Pisgah National Forest, backpacking in Uwharrie National Forest and paddling along the French Broad River.

Generous Gifts from Island Women Funds Education Without Walls


November 16, 2018

Celine Adair


Meet an Education Without Walls Graduate — Joaly Canseco

We here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) are very proud of our Education Without Walls program that provides adventure education experiences for diverse teenagers who have expressed a sincere desire in personal growth and development.

By using Wilderness as a classroom, Education Without Walls offers an exceptional learning environment — one where instructors foster curiosity, students apply critical thinking, and memories are constructed and not soon forgotten. Instructors use NCOAE’s Core Curriculum to guide lesson planning and the facilitation of experiential education activities that focus on personal development, community building and the acquisition and mastery of technical outdoor skills. As a result, Education Without Walls students make close friends and learn important skills, all while having a blast on the adventures of a lifetime.

What we’d like to do in this space today is introduce you to one of the many success stories that have come out of Education Without Walls — Joaly Canseco — and tell you a little about her background and thoughts about her own life-changing experience with us.

Joaly, who is now 19 years old, first started participating in Education Without Walls back when she was 13. We sat her down for a brief Q&A, and here is what she had to say:

NCOAE: What were things like at home back when you first heard about Education Without Walls?

Joaly: We were new to living in Wilmington (North Carolina) and I was at a new school and going to an after-school program called Dreams. There was just my mother and my two siblings living in a three-bedroom apartment.

NCOAE: What year did you first participate in Education Without Walls, and for how many years did you participate?

Joaly: My first trip was in 2013 and I participated in at least one trip each summer except the summer of 2016. That year my mother was expecting. She cleaned beach houses in the summer months and needed a little help.

NCOAE: Why did you first want to participate in Education Without Walls?

Joaly: At first, I just thought it would be a small camp experience and I wanted to do something over the summer other than help my mom clean beach houses. I never thought it would be the first time I travel six hours from home and stay in the middle of a forest for 12 days!

NCOAE: What benefits did you derive from participating in Education Without Walls?

Joaly: I have learned to love nature and appreciate everything around me and I also learned how to use critical thinking skills at home when things got tough. I also have met amazing people throughout the years. And I treasure those friendships and the guidance they have given me over the years.

NCOAE: How would your life be different today if you had not become an Education Without Walls student?

Joaly: Of course, I wouldn’t have had the amazing opportunity to go across the country and visit the amazing state of Alaska. My first hike, kayak trip, surfing lessons, airplane ride, glacier hike — and spotting a live bear — were all the result of Education Without Walls, and for that I am grateful.

NCOAE: What was a favorite part about being enrolled in Education Without Walls?

Joaly: The adventures and laughs I had with my groups. Each trip is completely different and the memories from each of those adventures will never fade.

NCOAE: What was your least favorite part about being enrolled in Education Without Walls?

Joaly: Probably the lessons, because sometimes we had to talk about tough topics. But those conversations helped me as a person to grow and learn. I knew I was in a safe space with the people who were around me.

NCOAE: What advice can you offer to a young person thinking about becoming involved in Education Without Walls?

Joaly: Do it! You won’t regret it. It will give you stories others won’t have, and you will be around an amazing group of people and connect with them in such a special way. The friendship you have with them will be like no other.

NCOAE: Do any Education Without Walls trips, in particular, stand out for you? If so, which trip and why was it so memorable?

Joaly: Of course, my trip to Alaska was the most memorable. It was one of my longest trips but my top favorite. It wasn’t an easy trip — and all my trips were challenging in some way. But this trip pushed me to the limit. I had to work for 11 or 12 days and wake up every morning and hike to the stop and get to work. It wasn’t easy but in the end, it was worth it.

All the laughs and jokes I had with my fellow group members are some of my favorite memories. I talk about my trip to Alaska all the time. So much so that most of my friends know all my stories. But it was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on it.

NCOAE: What are you doing now?

Joaly: Right now, I am in my second semester at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I am pursuing a major in Public Health and a minor in Health System Management. I am working two jobs — one on campus and one off —and focusing on my schoolwork. I hope to begin planning on a trip to Pisgah National Forest where it all began and show my friends the amazing memories we can make in the middle of a beautiful forest.

NCOAE: What would you like to be doing 10 years from now?

Joaly: By the time I’m 29, I hope to be done with graduate school and hopefully working in a clinic of some sort getting real-life experience in my field of work. I will still be living in Charlotte in a small apartment with my roommate/ best friend. I will hopefully have already visited many different places on my bucket list like Mexico, France, and California.

Meet an Education Without Walls Graduate — Joaly Canseco

Student Profiles

January 16, 2018

Celine Adair


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