Experiential Challenges Outdoors (EChO)

In the heart of the Experiential Challenges Outdoors (EChO) program is the belief that every student should have the opportunity for the kind of growth that comes from real adventure.



Through EChO, our classroom is New Hampshire’s mountains, forests, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, marshes and Spaulding Youth Center’s beautiful 490-acre campus. With carefully-planned and designed activities as well as cutting-edge adaptive equipment and techniques, our students learn to embrace challenges and take positive risks in a variety of outside activities.

In warm weather, students enjoy swimming and learning to maneuver watercraft, such as a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe. Students can also complete a bicycle safety program to receive a biking license for use on the campus trails. Rock climbing and the ropes courses are other favorite EChO adventures and can be done almost year-round. In cold weather, students learn to snowshoe and cross-country ski through the miles of campus trails. When necessary, equipment is modified so that each child can access the same lesson as their peers. EChO staff work closely with OT, PT, and Speech and Language Pathologist to provide wraparound support for students participating in these adventures.

Meet Our EChO Staff

Jason Sterner M.Ed.Jason Sterner, EChO Instructor

Jason Sterner has been the Outdoor Education Coordinator at Spaulding since 2000. He has worked as a rock and ice-climbing guide for EMS, an Adjunct Professor for the Adventure Education Dept. at Plymouth State University, He has also worked as a challenge course builder for Project Adventure and an instructor for Outward Bound.


  • M.Ed. Adventure Education, Plymouth State University
  • BA. English Lit, University of Colorado at Denver

Certifications and Professional Organizations

  • Wilderness First Responder, Stone Hearth Open Learning Opportunities. Recertification, November 2015
  • Lifeguard Certification, American Red Cross, Recertification, May 2016
  • Top Rope Site Manager Certification, American Mountain Guides Association, June 2006
  • Rock Instructor Course, American Mountain Guides Association, June 2002
  • Level II Practitioner, Professional Crisis Management Association, November 2016
  • Advanced Skills and Standards Certificate, Project Adventure, September 2007
  • Water Safety Instructor, American Red Cross, May 2014
  • Adventure-Based Counseling Certificate, Project Adventure, November 2006
  • Level 2 Stand up Paddleboard Certification, American Canoe Association, May 2016
  • Swift Water Rescue, American Canoe Association, 2003
  • Association for Experiential Education Member, Presenter, April 2017


Steve Golden, EChO InstructorSteve Golden M.Ed.


  • CAGS Educational Leadership, began Fall 2015, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH
  • M.Ed. Adventure Education, awarded May 2008, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH
  • BS Graduate, Cum Laude, awarded May 2000, Plymouth State College, Plymouth, NH
  • Major: Physical Education, Recreation Leadership
  • Minor: Health

Certifications and Professional Organizations

  • PSU Member Plymouth State University Adventure Education Risk Management Committee 2003-present
  • AEE Member/ Regional Conference attendee 2013
  • ATS Autism Training Solutions/ trained 2013
  • WFR Wilderness First Responder, Current 2011
  • MRS Mountain Rescue Member B team 2001-2010
  • AMGA/ Professional Member, Current Certified Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) 2015
  • AMGA Rock Instructor Course 2002
  • AMGA Alpine Guide Course 2007
  • SOLO Level One Avalanche Training 2003
  • ACA American Canoe Association, Swift Water Canoe Instructor 2003
  • ACA Swift Water Rescue 2003
  • ARC Current Certified Life Guard CPR/ AED
  • PCM Professional Crisis Management Instructor 2013-2017

Professional Experience

  • Outdoor Education Teacher for EChO Program, 12 years, Spaulding Youth Center, Northfield, NH
  • Adventure Education Adjunct Professor/Faculty, September 2003-present, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH
  • Adventure Educator, July 2007-2010, New Hampton School, New Hampton, NH
  • Rock/Ice/Alpine Guide, February 2006-2011, Mooney Mt. Guides LLC. New Hampton, NH
  • Rock and Ice Climbing Guide, June 2001-2006, Eastern Mountain Sports, North Conway, NH
  • Corporate Contract Facilitator, August 2004-August 2005, Outward Bound Professional, Thompson Island, MA

Outdoor Pursuits

  • Mountain Running
  • Rock Climbing
  • Paddleboard Surfing
  • Skiing
  • Ice Climbing and Mountaineering
  • Extreme Gardening