Cornell Tree Climbing Institute


Cornell Outdoor Education develops teamwork, leadership, and growth through outdoor experience.

We do so by:

  • Teaching outdoor skills and judgment for lifelong recreation and fitness.
  • Promoting environmental responsibility through personal connection to the natural world.
  • Empowering individuals and groups to move beyond self-imposed limitations.
  • Igniting a passion for experiential learning.
  • Enhancing initiative, self-reliance, and compassion for others.

Cornell Outdoor Education serves the broad membership of the Cornell community: students and student instructors, faculty and staff, alumni and friends, local community and outside groups. We enhance academic performance and success in the workplace by developing leadership, teamwork and personal achievement through experience-based education in the outdoor environment at Cornell University and around the world.

Cornell Outdoor Education programs place participants into hands-on learning situations that promote honest and constructive assessment of individual and group performance, provide natural and immediate consequences to actions, and promote personal growth. Our programs encourage participants to gain a sense of perspective in their own lives, and build support networks that develop meaningful lifelong friendships. Finally, we include fun with learning. By integrating these experiences into the rich academic curriculum and physical setting of our University, Cornell Outdoor Education plays a unique and vitally important role in developing the Leaders of the 21st Century.

Cornell Outdoor Education will only be as strong as the values and philosophies underlying our work. All that we do rests on the foundation of the operating principles we embrace. These principles are fluid rather than static, yet they provide a common map that helps us steer the organization — in our classes and programs, in our conduct with each other, in our interactions across the campus, and in our dealings with those outside of Cornell. We are committed to:


  • We aspire to model high-performance teamwork, including agreement on common objectives and individual roles.
  • We strive to communicate clearly, promptly, and honestly.
  • Recognizing that our decisions affect others, we value consensus and inclusive decision-making. We listen, contribute, and compromise when necessary.
  • We operate with a high level of trust, including the sharing of leadership, and the giving and receiving of honest feedback.
  • When problems arise, we inquire rather than accuse, and first deal directly with those who can resolve the situation.
  • We keep the "big picture" in mind, and are committed to the success of our colleagues and the program, even beyond our job descriptions.
  • We seek to collaborate with other programs both within and beyond the university.


  • We demonstrate integrity by modeling our espoused values. We seek to embody the mission statement in action.
  • We strive for quality in our performance, our relationships, and all aspects of our work.
  • We are committed to taking risks and trying new ideas, are willing to make mistakes, and embrace the merit of "failing forward"
  • We take initiative on new tasks and follow through on old commitments.
  • We encourage and pursue professional development, sharing what we have learned with our colleagues.
  • We seek to bring out the best in others, and to make contributions to the greater good of community and society.


  • We recognize that morale matters, and strive to be aware of the needs of others. We honor others' priorities and time constraints. We treat people as we want to be treated.
  • We welcome and seek to include a diversity of background, experience, learning styles, and perspective.
  • We recognize and reward individuals for their contributions, and celebrate our collective successes.
  • We are passionate about people, care of the natural environment and the learning process.
  • We are committed to creating and sustaining supportive environments and relationships that foster creativity and calculated risk-taking.


  • We maintain high professional standards and model safe practices.
  • We encourage individuals to challenge themselves, to question self-imposed limitations and to define the goals toward which they strive.
  • We honor each individual's contributions and best effort.
  • We expect individuals to solve problems within their skills and abilities, and to pro-actively involve others in multi-dimensional problem solving.
  • We value people and our reputation with each individual. We work to deliver excellent customer service and to be consistently reliable, conscientious and dependable.
  • We seek to embody the mission statement in action.

Health & Wellness

  • We acknowledge the holistic domain of health and wellness including the physical, mental, and spiritual. We promote healthful decisions amongst staff and students.
  • We respect the importance of family and life outside of work, and honor efforts to balance work and home needs.
  • We recognize that play and humor can enrich teamwork and community. We promote a nurturing and fun environment.
  • We strive to create a fun, lighthearted, and inclusive environment to enhance learning, productivity, and morale.