Outside of the Oaks: The Power of the outdoors at the Carolina Outdoors Adventure Leadership Summit

North Carolina Schools Outdoor Program Committee provides career building opportunities for Elon and North Carolina University students through COALS.

Assistant Director for Experiential Learning and Outdoor Adventures (ELOA) Daniel Linares had the opportunity to return this year to COALS, the Carolina Outdoors Adventure Leadership Summit, a program he participated in himself during his undergraduate years, with a group of Elon students to help them learn more about the professional outdoor world and their aspirations after college.

Linares has been the assistant director of the ELOA program since January of 2023. Through his direction and education of the ELOA program, Linares opened the door for students to attend COALS, where he spent the weekend learning hands-on hard skills, developing soft skills and building networks with current and future outdoor world professionals.

Fourteen years ago, the North Carolina Schools Outdoor Program Committee, a committee dedicated to all universities across North Carolina with outdoor programs, created the very first COALS to bring students across the state and various programs together for professional development in an introductory setting for a low cost. This year, Elon students attended this career-building opportunity at no cost. One of this year’s greatest takeaways and talking points at COALS was accessibility and diversity, equity and inclusion within the professional outdoor community.

“Historically, outdoor recreation has always been dominated by CIS gender, white males, so having conversations about how to make the profession more open and accessible is incredibly important for the next generation to know,” Linares said.

Team Building at 2024 COALS

Linares credits COALS with providing a space annually that is dedicated to the betterment of the student’s professional lives and also the cultivation of mentorships between Linares and his employees. COALS allowed Linares to understand students and their needs for their current education, while providing them space to discover what their future aspirations are after Elon University within the outdoor com

munity Linares pointed out. “I want to give them a space to not only build their network, but also really get to see firsthand what their future could look like as an outdoor professional. Seeing those lightbulb moments where we’re in a workshop and you see something click for a student and it all begins to make sense for them is amazing to watch- almost magical.”

Next year, Linares will be taking another group of future outdoor professionals to COALS hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Are you interested in a future career in the great outdoors? Get involved with COALS by contacting Daniel Linares, Assistant Director of ELOA and Co-President of the NCSOPC and talk to staff members in the ELOA office about their experiences with COALS.

Contact Daniel Linares at dlinares2@elon.edu.