Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Experiential Education Supplement (EES) 3: Program Activities

Program activities are designed to meet individual needs, build on strengths, develop skills, and promote learning through experience.
2020 Edition




Experiential Education provides safe, activity-based opportunities for learning and reflection that support the achievement of identified program outcomes.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for tailoring activities to the abilities of participants
  • Policy on coercion/force
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Individuals or families served
  • Review case records
  • Observe group activities, if possible

Fundamental Practice

EES 3.01

The organization tailors activities to the abilities of participants by:
  1. planning, adjusting, and graduating experiences to the level of difficulty appropriate for the skill levels and capacities of participants;
  2. teaching needed skills and techniques progressively;
  3. providing appropriate support and supervision for less skilled participants; and
  4. pacing group activities according to the capacities of the least able or fit member of the group.


EES 3.02

The organization prohibits:
  1. the use of coercion or force to induce any participant to engage in a specific adventure-based activity; and
  2. deliberately limitating reasonable options or alternatives to participation.


Organizations are not required to obtain pro-formal verbal agreements for each activity and sub-activity, but must take any strong objections from participants seriously and examine all implications, such as illness or skill level, and offer encouragement to participate, when needed. Organizations must clearly specify in their informed consent procedures if (1) the program has a “challenge by choice” philosophy; (2) whether participants will be required to complete all or most elements of the experience; or (3) if alternative activities can be used to accomplish the same goals to ensure that the person granting informed consent understands in advance this feature of the program.


EES 3.03

Personnel help participants learn from their experiences and integrate acquired skills into practice by engaging participants through formal and informal discussions. 


Discussions focused on evaluating individual client needs should be recorded in the case record. Discussions regarding group dynamics and environmental concerns should be recorded in a guide or therapist log.