The benefits of experiential education programs are well-documented. After experiencing adventurous, focused activities, learners benefit from self-reflection, skill building, and real-world application. From enhanced abstract thinking to critical leadership skills, these programs support lifelong growth and success.

Types of Experiential Education Programs

Bridging the gap between theory and experience, experiential education programs offer an enhanced, structured learning opportunity. Regardless of the type of program, the ultimate goal is for students to learn through action and reflection.

  • Adventure education — Students benefit from connecting with the natural world as they develop greater confidence, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills.
  • Global learning — Helping students explore cultures, personal challenges, and varying worldviews, this type of program is an enlightening experience. Studying abroad can help students develop lifelong skills, encouraging a broader perspective.
  • Corporate training and development — Helping companies reach success, these programs offer team-building, leadership development, strategic planning, and much more.
  • Classroom education — When utilized in-class, these programs are student-focused rather than teacher-focused. As students develop critical thinking and communication skills, they benefit from personal growth and project-based learning.

wilderness therapy midwest

Experiential Education Programs in the Midwest

Experiential education programs can be found throughout the United States and the world. Here are some in the Midwest of the United States:

1. Joy Outdoor Education Center

Developed in 1937, the Joy Outdoor Education Center in Clarksville, Ohio, has had a positive impact on more than a million attendees. Here, students improve their confidence and self-esteem — all within a safe yet stimulating outdoor environment.

Your child can embark on an educational journey that promotes community building, team development, and leadership skills. Opportunities include night hikes, high ropes courses, and wilderness survival. From learning to build a shelter to gaining basic navigation skills, Camp Joy turns youth into the leaders of tomorrow.

2. New Vision Wilderness

Located in Grafton, Wisconsin, New Vision Wilderness is a nationally recognized outdoor behavioral healthcare center. Although the underlying focus is an intense, individualized healing process, the opportunities that await are far more rewarding. This positive and supportive environment helps students gain perspective.

From hiking to outdoor yoga, this program is intended to stimulate the mind, while encouraging self-reflection. The curriculum is built into their unique and highly structured programming. Taking part in activities such as dog sledding, cross-country skiing, canoeing, rock climbing, and fishing, your child will learn through all five senses.

3. Wendigo Lake Expeditions

Located in South River, Canada, Wendigo Lake (WLE) offers a number of comprehensive programs, including a residential adventure therapy program. Students often express the profound impact that this experience has on their lives, encouraging positive transformation. As they acquire new skills, knowledge, and attitudes, they leave these programs with an empowered sense of self.

WLE’s Achieve Program highlights adventure and training. From wilderness expeditions to problem-solving courses, students learn by doing. Since programs are also custom-built, offering hand-picked facilitators, your child’s experience will help them explore and harness their full potential.

Other Unique Experiential Education Opportunities in the Midwest

If you’re looking for other options in the Midwest, the following opportunities also offer an incredible learning experience.

Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center

Located in Bartlett, Illinois, Sunrise Lake’s education is guided by nature’s resources. Offering programs for students aged 3-21, Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center focuses on self-determination and teamwork.

Camp Daggett

In Petoskey, Michigan, Camp Daggett has provided recreational experiences for over 91 years. With over 1,400 feet of lake frontage, in addition to 118 acres of forests, meadows, and wetlands, students of all ages are able to develop both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills in an upbeat, eye-opening environment.

The College School

Located in St. Louis, this private school encourages children of all ages to be questioners, citizens, listeners, and leaders outdoor — adventure education begins in preschool. Opportunities increase in complexity according to age, focusing on environmental stewardship, teamwork, and personal development.

OMNI Youth Services

At OMNI, in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, the mission is to support responsible youth while strengthening families. OMNI’s outdoor wilderness therapy program encourages the development of skills for life. It is here that students develop a sense of trust, test their limits, and learn to problem solve.

Adventure Works

In DeKalb, Illinois, Adventure Works provides experiences for children ages 6 and older. An alternative to talk therapy, adventure-based initiatives promote positive behavioral changes, develop strong social skills, and encourage healthy risk taking.

Minnesota State University – Mankato

Through unique, specialized courses, graduate students benefit from adventure education, group dynamics, environmental education, and brain-based learning. Graduates from this program find jobs around the globe, focusing on environmental or adventure-based positions as well as teaching and non-profit leadership.

Indiana University Outdoor Adventures

IU Outdoor Adventures allows students to lead an active lifestyle through trips and activities, while offering skill-building workshops. Whether members are kayaking on Lake Monroe or hiking in the Smoky Mountains, more than 40 outdoor trips are organized each year.

University of Wisconsin Adventure Learning Programs

Through group games and other challenges, ALPs focus on adventure-based team-building workshops. Student groups are encouraged to become more productive and unified through shared outdoor experiences.


Based in northern Indiana, this nonprofit highlights the importance of personal growth and leadership development. Opportunities at uLEAD support humility and clarity, increasing knowledge and awareness through hands-on learning experiences.

Want to Learn More?

Are you interested in learning more about one-of-a-kind national and global experiential learning opportunities? Visit our programs page today.

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