is the non-cognitive trait of believing in the inherent value or worth a person possesses.

The idea of the self is the foundation for an efficiently functioning person.

Within an outdoor leadership program (OLP) self-worth is tied to anticipating concerns of the group, constant environmental assessment and an ongoing understanding details that will affect the safety and learning environment for the trip.  Being aware and assessing oneself, in both broad and specific terms, is the foundation of any self-actualized person, good leader and a goal accomplishing individual (Kutob, Senf, Crago, Shisslak, 2010).

The idea of self-worth can be expressed in many terms, the goal for an OLP is to have participants build upon a healthy, natural and flexible picture of their weaknesses, strengths and ability to learn, grow and change. This non-cognitive trait has two components to self-worth. The stable understanding  of personal competencies, weak points, fears, biases and motivations. Self-worth also derives from a participants current mood and physical state that can influence immediate decisions or attitudes. An OLP, specifically challenges and examines a student’s self-worth as many of the activities involve personal struggle and vulnerability. Group dynamics can pressure and shape a participants self-worth by engaging in unknown physical activities and possible social failure (McCrea & Hurt, 2001).

How can self-worth be included in OLP lessons?

Self-worth is an intrinsically held idea influenced by others but only at the will of the holder.

At the outset of an OLP, most participant’s will be doubting their self-worth as students will arrive on the first day anxious about being able to physically perform.  The structure of the course, instructor leadership style and group dynamics needs to be set up to build trust, empathy and a safe group dynamic.  This structure will allow, and even celebrate failure by allowing students to feel accepted and worthwhile.  Many teenage participants struggle with maintaining a resilient idea of self-worth, all OLP instructors should keep this in mind.  With public acknowledgment that this non-cognitive trait will be a primary concern of each activity, participants can relax a bit.  Those students with a low self-worth concept will also struggle with proper self-care, confidence and group participation.  Students in an OLP must frequently be reminded to assess, manage and support their own idea of self-worth, so that they can take opportunities to improve.


Outdoor Leadership Program Self-worth Traits

  • Self-worth is the anchor of many of the leadership and non-cognitive traits. Holding internal value, esteem and love for oneself can be a buffer against many challenges instants of failure and development of confidence.
  • Self-assessment of the concept of a personal state of self-worth. This helps determine those leadership roles, decisions and group dynamics that can be further developed.
  •   A strong or weak sense of self-worth greatly affects individual moods as well as others. A confident, direct leader needs to have a flexible and solid idea of their own worth and value.
  •   The mental state of self-worth and physical state are closely connected. Participants must constantly assess and then safe guard against an easily eroded self-worth.
  •   Seek out constructive feedback, compliments and create trust within the group so that others can shore up their own self-worth during times of difficulty. Working to understand mistakes, weakness or other related aspects of leadership can greatly build the idea of personal and group value.
  •   Self-care is directly tied to the concept of self-worth. Make sure participants are getting their emotional, physical and group needs met. Remind people that the priorities starts with the self and then the group.

Click on the link below to view the self-worth activities and lesson plan link.  

Each page contains: (a) an overview of the lesson, (b) information, videos and images to share with students, (C) enduring questions and (d) a downloadable file of the full lesson.

 Outdoor Leadership Program Self-worth activity