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Outdoor Education

Learning cannot be limited to the classroom. Our program is consistently ranked as one of the nation's best as it helps students, faculty, and staff explore their sense of place and adventure.

Ben Oliver: Incoming Director of Outdoor Education

Ben Oliver director of outdoor education

We are thrilled to announce that after a very competitive national search, Ben Oliver (current Assistant Director of OE), has been hired as the new Director of Outdoor Education. Ben will begin on May 20, 2016. You can read more about Ben below.
More on Ben
Ben is a native of Massachusetts, but spent his college years in Central New York before moving around the northeast and New England pursuing a variety of jobs in both outdoor and indoor education, including stints with the Princeton-Blairstown Center, the Fay School, and Project Adventure. He also spent two summers in Wyoming and Idaho leading with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Ben eventually found his way to the University of New Hampshire, where he earned an MA in Outdoor Education, ran the Outdoor Adventure program, and co-founded the pre-orientation adventure for Wildcats. In 2011, Ben came to Colgate as the Assistant Director of Outdoor Education with a primary focus on the team building program. In his first four years, Ben oversaw the addition of a high ropes course and grew participation in the team building program by 830%. In addition to team building, Ben has been active with most other aspects of OE, including training and PE, and has led a variety of break trips, including sea kayaking, lightweight backpacking, and ice climbing trips. Ben has a great love for wilderness pre-orientation, having been introduced to outdoor education through his first-year trip, and has been actively involved with wilderness adventure since his arrival at Colgate five years ago.

Outside of Colgate, Ben has been a member of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) since 2001, where he presents frequently at both the regional and national level on the topics of social norms, pre-orientation, and technology in outdoor education. He has twice served on regional conference committees and was a member of the Northeast Regional Advisory Council (NERAC) for eight years. In his free time, Ben enjoys board games, squash (the sport, not the vegetable), road cycling, all forms of coffee, and is obsessed with Hamilton the musical. Ben currently resides in Clinton, NY with his wife Janine, who works at Hamilton College, and his border-collie/lab mix, Ollie.

Sea kayaking with Outdoor Education.

What We Do

CONTACT USWe get you out! Whether it is kayaking, tree climbing, snowshoeing, or ice climbing, our goal is to develop your sense of place, leadership, and adventure in the great outdoors.

Regardless of skill level, we take members of the Colgate community out of the classroom and into some of the region's most beautiful natural settings — often just a brief ride from campus.

You can get involved in several different capacities:
Mission Statement
Our mission is to provide learning and teaching opportunities through diverse outdoor and experiential outings. Our programs allow students to develop leadership skills, strong interpersonal connections, an adventurous spirit, and a sense of place within Colgate, Central, and Upstate New York. Intrinsic to this, we support the mission of Colgate University and the department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics through our commitment to health and wellness, personal growth, social responsibility, active citizenship, and lifelong learning.
Core Values
  • Leadership as a mechanism for growth and independence
  • Experiential programming that enriches and supports classroom instruction
  • Strong and authentic relationships built in a substance-free environment
  • Continual betterment of self, place, and others
  • High standards of instruction and professionalism

Climbers on Climate Change




Sabrina Farmer '18, with the support of Colgate's Benton Scholars Program, explored the personal experiences of climbers with the impact and effects of climate change.

Camino de Santiago Trip

Camino de Santiago Trip
In late May / early June, Outdoor Ed Director, Abby Rowe, and six faculty hiked 140 miles of the Camino de Santiago in an effort to scout for future extended study trip in courses relating to Art History, History, Religion and Spanish Culture. READ MORE

Lightweight Community

Lightweight Camping program
Evan Chartier '14 (pictured far right) is a Colgate Outdoor Ed instructor and a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador. With his additional expertise at OE, we have been able to craft a successful Lightweight Camping program that Gossamer Gear is now excited to feature. Thank you, Evan, for helping us get to this point! LEARN MORE