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ERIC Number: EJ789202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
ISSN: ISSN-1053-8259
Backcountry Adventure as Spiritual Development: A Means-End Study
Marsh, Paul E.
Journal of Experiential Education, v30 n3 p290-293 Spr 2008
What do people mean when they describe backcountry adventure experiences as being "spiritual"? Spiritual aspects of adventure experiences in the wilderness have been recounted anecdotally and recognized in research. This body of research, however, has left the definition of the term spiritual to the individual participants, and has not yet developed a broadly accepted definition of the term that can be used in research. Interviews were conducted in the region of Teton Pass, Wyoming, between December 17, 2006, and January 08, 2007. Sixty-three backcountry skiers, telemarkers, and snowboarders participated, 42 (67%) were men and 21 (33%) were women. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 65, with 35 (53%) of subjects falling in the 26- to 35-year-old range. Means-end laddering interviews were employed. The study identified values reflecting spiritual development as a transcendent experience (63%), increased awareness (46%), and a sense of fulfillment (29%). The major consequences (i.e., benefits) were focus (38%), reflection (30%), tranquility (32%), and an appreciation of beauty (32%). The primary attributes were nature and the backcountry setting (95%), and the adventure (35%). The attribute of a social interaction (29%) was identified as important for the benefit of sharing an experience (27%) and the resulting value of an enhanced sense of connection (43%). Mental and physical exercise (35%), resulting in the benefits of enhanced sense of well-being (22%), were also recognized as contributing to the spiritual meaning. The attributes of use of technical skill (25%) and experiencing solitude (28%) were also important to spiritual experiences. Other values and associations related to spiritual meaning were identified.
Association for Experiential Education. 3775 Iris Avenue Suite 4, Boulder, CO 80301. Tel: 866-522-8337; Fax: 303-440-9581; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wyoming