Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Ward, Whitney


This study is based on five components of an outdoor adventure trip that help facilitate personal growth in individuals. There has been some research on how outdoor adventure trips facilitate personal growth, but this is a qualitative study on the affects of the five components. Personal growth can be described as when someone learns something new about himself or herself, overcomes something challenging, and/or has a positive experience that will last with them throughout their lives (Bennion, & Olsen, 2002; Daniels, 2007). Personal growth is unique and individualized. The participants for this study were university students who took part in an academic, outdoor leadership course. This study used phenomenological research to find what trip components were the most meaningful to the participants for their personal growth (Creswell, 2003). The 6 themes that emerged from the data included patience, collaboration, confidence, transference, realization, and empathy/compassion. Components of the trip influenced personal growth in the following ways. Challenge and the group were related to participant perceptions of realization. Empathy and compassion were based upon characteristics found in the group and challenge. Skill development, natural environment, and challenge were the most responsible for confidence. Aspects of a challenge component were most influential in promoting patience. Based on the results of this study, wilderness trip providers could consider how components of an outdoor adventure trip could be applied to encourage personal growth. Outdoor leaders can use this information to make a more intentional trip for their participants.




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