SPOTLIGHT on UWCSEA & Nathan Hunt!

Nathan with parents, students & alumni


I’ve had the pleasure of working with Nathan on a number of occasions at United World College Southeast Asia.

His humble personality and dedication to sustainability and conservation are reflected in several dynamic research projects and educational programs for students and communities in Singapore.



With projects ranging from rainforest restoration in Sumatra to a carbon offsetting program in Ladakh the lessons learned in the field and practical impacts his students are having on sustainability and conservation are innovative and inspirational!

We definitely need more students, teachers and communities taking action for a sustainable future!  So get inspired and get outside to play, learn & explore!

For ideas & inspiration make sure to learn more about the UWCSEA Rainforest Restoration Project & The Lamdon School Reforestation Project at the links below!








Learn more about the UWCSEA Rainforest Restoration Project here!

Get inspired by the Lamdon School Reforestation Project here!









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Lupa Masa (forget time) with Earth Matters!

Story by Catriona Benzie
Year 5 Teacher
STEM Teaching and Learning Coach

International School Suva

Photos by Sarah Sutter (American School in Japan) & Kenny Peavy


There’s nothing quite like watching a ten year old swing a machete with calm concentration. As I observe him and his brother work together to build a temporary shelter, under the watchful eye of their mum and our jungle guide, I know this is what children miss when an education is restricted to the indoors. Sometimes learning should be messy, involve calculated risks, and take us out of our comfort zone. That’s what the jungle taught me.


It isn’t easy to get to our home away from home, Lupa Masa in Borneo, Malaysia, but as the name guarantees, we can feel the stress of the modern world slip away with each muddy footstep. The thick green of the canopy cast shadows on the ground as we hiked deeper into the jungle. The air was warm and humid. We could hear countless birds and insects calling to each other though many of them remained hidden among the lush foliage. There was excitement in the air as the camp finally came into sight.

We dropped our packs and took off our leech socks, welcomed by the delicious smell of our well-earned lunch. After a quick dip in the cool river we got to talking. One of the beautiful things about being together in Nature is the time we have to connect with each other. Even though we were from all over the world, we had far more in common than we could have guessed. When I listened to people tell their stories, I felt honoured to be part of this group of intrepid adventurers.

The more time we spend outdoors, the more we see ourselves as part of an interconnected web of life, not the masters of it. And there is something especially magical about being outdoors with children. They remind us to look at the world with joy and wonder, to be fascinated by a deadly pit viper hanging in the tree over our heads instead of horrified by it.

We tread carefully on rope bridges through the jungle canopy, trekked bravely through the jungle at night to see bioluminescent fungi, and learned how to remove a leech with a quick flick of a pocketknife. We played with a massive millipede, fondly nicknamed Bob, and were fascinated by a Pygmy squirrel that made its home near camp. We saw the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia, and caught a quick whiff of its foul smell, like rotting flesh, to attract insects to spread its pollen. Isn’t Nature awesome?

I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness as we pack up to leave the jungle. Although I am looking forward to a hot shower, I will miss the sound of the cicadas at night, sitting around a table by candlelight sharing stories and laughing with my new friends. But I am leaving with a renewed sense of purpose.

I can’t wait to tell the students in my class all about my adventure in Borneo, to share the feeling of interconnectedness and belonging.

I’m thinking about where my class could go camp this year for an adventure. This trip reminded me that talking about it isn’t enough; it’s experiential learning, walking the walk that makes all the difference.

Education outside the classroom is essential to developing well-rounded, global citizens. Children innovate, problem-solve, and think deeply in a real world context.
















These skills have a direct impact on children’s lives as they navigate an increasingly complex world. They learn to love and respect the planet we all share. They learn important contextual and cultural knowledge that won’t be found in textbooks.

They become caretakers for the next generation, just as we adults are today. As we try to find a balance between progress and conservation, it will be dynamic thinkers and risk-takers that will create a sustainable future.


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ETC 2017- Adventure Learning: Basics of Program Design

Jumpstarting your Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) Program
(2-part workshop)

Whether your school does service projects, week without walls, cultural immersion or adventure programs you’ll need to know a few basics to get it started or improve your current program.

Workshop A will cover the basics of program design, logistics, desired learning outcomes & experiences for students

Why do ETOC? (show slides, download notes from website, my end goal is to create and free downloadable guide to planning & implementing successful EOTC expeditions)

  • Plan early! 6 months – year in advance
  • Choosing your focus (learning outcomes & desired experiences)

Jumpstart your EOTC program

Anatomy of EOTC

3-components of a trip (pre, during & post)

Pre- trip preparations

  • Informing students about the trip (itinerary, gear list, activities),
  • Checking student outdoor skills (cycling, swimming, hiking, fitness levels)
  • Pre-teaching curriculum connections (i.e. learning BEFORE the trip)
  • Other skills (using equipment, scientific probes, data collection, interviewing skills etc.)


During trip

  • Daily briefings
  • Communication with students, teachers & staff
  • Regular debriefings (sharing circles after activities etc.)

Post-trip (many if not most schools drop the ball on this one!)

  • Review itinerary
  • Feedback SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
  • Start planning for next year

Anatomy of a trip (1st day everyone is shell shocked & confused, 3rd day is a charm… trips should be 6-8 days to get most benefits for students)

Info we need (to avoid 50+ e-mails!)

  1. Activities & learning outcomes
  • Activities preferred
  • Experiences desired
  • Any learning outcomes
  • Standards or benchmarks to meet
  1. Types of trips
  • Adventure– kayaking, trekking, white water rafting, camping, snorkelling
  • Cultural immersion– village visits, homestays
  • Curriculum related– science, Independent Assessment (IB), geography, humanities, etc.
  • Service oriented– local schools, community projects, conservation (tree plantings, beach clean ups etc.)
  • Leadership– team building, cooperation games, role playing, empathy
  • Life Skills– market visits, cooking class, organizing a campsite
  1. Location
  • Indonesia (Bali, Sumatra, Java, Komodo)
  • Thailand (North or South)
  • Malaysia (Peninsular, East)

Itinerary– after we know the above information then we can design an itinerary

Logistics, risk & safety

  1. Trip info
  • Dates of trip
  • Arrival & departure times- impacts itinerary
  1. Student info
  • School / group name
  • Ages/grade level
  • How many students (please list male & female- sometimes it’s hard to tell from names!)
  • Rooming preferences- doubles, triples etc. (for number of rooms)
  • Rooms need to be clustered for safety (map of hotel property)
  1. Teacher info
  • How many teachers (male & female)
  • Teachers sharing rooms or single rooms
  • Contracts/expectations, teacher roles, refund policies, logistics,
  1. Risk & Safety
  • Skills/abilities- swimming, cycling, fitness level & ability etc.
  • Medical forms (food restrictions, allergies, medicines, past med history etc.)
  • Risk assessments & SOP’s

III. Payments & deposit (at least 1month before program)

  • Build the cost into tuition if at all possible
  • Pricing is dependent on the itinerary (itinerary can be designed to fit budget or designed to fit requested activities)
  • Determined by the number of participants
  • Refund policy



  • Perceived risk v. Real risk
  • Getting into the discomfort zone (out of the comfort zone)
  • Risk assessment basics (sample)
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
  • Background checks on third party providers

Benefits of risky play

Just how dangerous are ziplines

Fatal Singapore tree fall prompts questions

Click here to download sample Risk Assessment form

Click here to download sample Standard Operating Procedures form

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ETC 2017- Science Integration: Why Everyone Needs to Get Outside to Learn & Play


ETC Pre-Conference Workshop

March 29, 2017

PS Function Room I

Everyone Needs to Get Outside to Learn and Play – This hands-on outdoor workshop will integrate science, literature, art, service learning & other curricular areas with Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) techniques including:

  • Making a field guide to your campus
  • Birds, Bugs & Botany
  • What every student (and teacher) should know about their local environment
  • River of Words International Art & Poetry contest
  • Connecting kids and nature
  • Why every school should have an outdoor classroom

** Come prepared to spend part of the day outside exploring the Sutera Harbour grounds and facilities

8:30 – 10:30– Explore Sutera Harbour to make a field guide, explain what a field guide is & how to use them (show student exemplars, discuss why the process is more important than product- get outside to explore, learn & observe)

10:30– Coffee break

10:30 – 12:30 – Make field guides(using books & websites), discuss theory, culminating event – tour of campus

123:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 Read at least one article & discuss







How small steps can create outdoor experiences in schools

Professional development on outdoor learning

Why adults have to stop trying so darn hard to control how children play

The decline of play in preschool- and the rise of sensory issues

How access to nature during the school year can help students thrive

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant

What happens when we reconnect with nature

Why we need FREE RANGE KIDS!

2:30 – 3:00 Coffee break

3:00 – 4:30Greenscapes for Schools, Various programs to be aware of- River of Words, Traidhos Barge Program in Bangkok


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Why we need to Walk Between the Worlds


These days seem highly charged with plenty of folks labeling themselves and each other alt-right, leftist liberal, sexist, misogynist, LGBTQ+ and plenty of other descriptors while trying to convince each other who is right and who is wrong.

You are this and I am that.  So therefore you are wrong and I am right.

While if-then statements work well for computer programming they don’t work so well for understanding the complexities of human beings or human behavior.

You are either with us or against us didn’t work out so well. It never has and it never will because it’s infinitely and inherently more complicated than that.

It is never black and white.  It’s always grey.

Reducing humans to a singular label and dismissing them will not move us forward.  We are individually and collectively much more intricate than that.

To label is to limit.

If we reduce someone with a simplistic label and pretend that it is the totality of who they are it reduces them to an easily manageable quantity and denigrates their humanity.  It makes it much easier to hate them and dismiss them instead of seeing them as people we can relate to and find our universal commonalities with.

As my good friend K. Keith Gravitt just recently and eloquently said, “Everyone and everything seem so polarized right now. Whenever we take the totality of one’s thoughts, feelings, and life experiences and dismissively reduce them down to a single adjective like redneck, libtard or Bible-thumper we limit the possibility of learning something, growing as a person, and maybe, just maybe, finding out that we have more in common than we differ..

To understand someone takes time.  Labels make it quick and efficient.

To recognize bits of yourself in the other is difficult.  Labeling and dismissing as different is easy.

People are contradictory and messy. Labels are neat and tidy.

Labeling also has the side benefit of stroking our ego.  Thank god I am not like that!  I am like this! Whew!

It’s incredibly frightening and an arduous task to stand alone.  It’s much easier to stand with others we believe wear our same labels.

Now more than ever it seems we need to take time to understand each other and drop the simplistic labels.

We need to open up to the other 7 billion souls we got schlepping around on this planet because we each carry a unique perspective and unique experiences.

In other words we need to learn to Walk Between the Worlds.

Here is why.

To the best of my reckoning I figure we all have a common human experience and therefore a bond with each other in a very deep and meaningful sense. What separates us are superficial differences in appearance, beliefs and behavior but at the core we are all the same and share a common human experience of being alive on this planet.

If we look beyond the cracker thin veneer of those differences we discover that we are all fundamentally similar with the same basic needs, fears, wants and desires. What separates us from each other is our limited perception of who we are and our failure to see ourselves reflected in each other. (Excerpt from Young Homeless Professional)

So here is my challenge to you.  

Download this excerpt Walk Between The Worlds.  Share this post with others.

Discuss it with your family, community, students and strangers.

Let me know what you learn.

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