The Outdoor Learning Community (OLC) is a group of first-year students who share a common interest in outdoor education/adventure-based activities. Students in the OLC are passionate about the natural world, interested in learning more about ways to engage in outdoor pursuits, and curious to grow their skills. As a member of the OLC, you’ll participate in a variety of adventure-based activities, both on and off campus. You’ll develop relationships with other students, faculty, and staff who share common interests and learn more about pathways to become involved at Elon. In the spring semester, you’ll take ABL 225: Introduction to Adventure-Based Learning with other OLC students.


The OLC fosters an environment of supportive leadership where members of the OLC are empowered to take ownership of their experience. There are opportunities for formal leadership roles depending on the experiences the group would like to undertake (students leading efforts in organizing logistics for expedition trips, prepping food for camping trips, etc) and many other informal leadership development experiences. Members of the OLC also have the ability to develop relationships with upperclass student leaders from across campus.

By engaging first-year students in adventure-based activities, the OLC is an innovative way to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to direct a variety of activity oriented team-building exercises and provide leadership in their chosen careers.  The OLC is designed to offer Elon students creative curricular and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities that can augment their major disciplinary studies.  Students will develop cross-disciplinary skills for collaboration, leadership of and understanding others, and planning group pursuits. The OLC is structured to mirror the challenges of real world issues that require quick critical thinking, self-efficacy, and teamwork.  The experiences provided in the OLC will provide pragmatic opportunities for students to gain intrapersonal and interpersonal growth, and the confidence and self-awareness necessary to succeed in their future endeavors.

There is extensive research linking participation in ELOA programming to an increased sense of self-efficacy (Sutherland, 2001; Richardson, 2003; Jones & Hinton, 2007); increased retention (Gass, 1987; Smith, 2012 (research done at Elon)); stress reduction (Kanters, Bristol, & Attarian, 2002); more successful transition to college (Lien & Goldenberg, 2012); stronger peer relationships (Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003); and significant emotional, social, and personal growth (Wolfe & Kay, 2011). Additional benefits include an increased sense of resilience and an ability to advocate for the needs of self, others, and communities.

Where is the OLC Located?

Students in the OLC live on the first-floor of Virginia, a residence hall located in Elon’s Historic Neighborhood.

Who can apply to be in the OLC?

Incoming first-year Elon students.


Contact The OLC Advisors: Evan Small & Carol Smith