Robert Stremba, EdD 1947-2022

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It’s with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Robert H. Stremba, originally of the Philadelphia PA area. Bob was a good friend and fellow board member of Mountain Spirit Institute based in the USA. He served on the board, and as president, until his death. Bob supported the vision of Mountain Spirit through thick and thin.

Every conversation with him was always framed in the positive, from brainstorming what types of programs we could run in the USA, Peru, and in New Zealand from music exchanges to author speaking engagements to trips to Lakota Studies on the Rosebud Reservation. I met Bob when working in recruiting and marketing for Hurricane Island Outward Bound on the east coast, during a stopover at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where we has the Adventure Education Department chair. We became good friends, and I eventually asked him if he’d serve on the board of my new non-profit I was creating based on Outward Bound principles with a bit of a spiritual element. He was on board. Not long after, he asked if I’d be interested in being an adjunct professor, teaching Intro to Outdoor Education and other classes. I took him up on the offer.
Over the years, Bob supported Mountain Spirit Institute by attending and assisting with fundraisers, providing ideas on program curriculum, experiential educational ideas based on his background with the Association of Experiential Education and as an instructor with Outward Bound and he even gave generously in financial support to Mountain Spirit.

Three of my favorite interactions with Bob were: The last time I saw him in the US when my family and I stayed with him at his home. We did the normal tourist things in Durango and would come back for dinner then join him for a jaunt into his favorite trails in the mountain surrounding his home.

Bob Stremba at Lake Sunapee
New Hampshire

One of the best courses I ever had the opportunity to run, was with Bob called H.A.W.K or Healing Adventure for Teens We had a small group of teens that had in common, some recent loss of a loved one in their lives. Our job was to provide a safe space in nature with experiential activities that allowed them to better process their loss, within a peer group. It was an amazing course and I cherish the time I had planning and working the course with Bob.
One last adventure we had was when he came to visit us in New Zealand. We picked him up at the airport, took him to the campervan rental desk, only to discover he had left his driver’s license in stateside. We headed back to Kingston, where we lived at the time to regroup and come up with a driverless vacation for Bob. The original plan was for him to spend time adventuring with us, and to spend some time traveling on his own. After numerous phone calls stateside and here in NZ, it was clear, Bob wasn’t going anywhere without me. Hence we rented a Juicy van, with a roof tent above, and headed off for parts unknown. I’m glad he left his license in the states.

Bob retired as Chair of the Fort Lewis College Adventure Education Department in 2017, after serving 11 years developing and teaching in the Adventure Education Bachelor’s degree program. His areas of focus include teaching how theory, research, and conceptual models inform practice, and vice versa; the connections between nature and mindfulness; project-based learning; and adventure processing and facilitation to promote social-emotional development. He co-wrote the graduate text and faculty resource book about how to teach theory experientially, Teaching Adventure Education Theory: Best Practices (2009), and wrote the instructor guide chapter on outdoor leadership for the college text, Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming (2018).

He has instructed for Outward Bound in Colorado and Northwest Outward Bound in Washington state, including courses for adolescent grief and loss, adult life-career renewal, and young adult leadership.

Bob also developed bachelor’s degree programs in adventure education and outdoor leadership at Plymouth (NH) State University, and New Mexico Highlands University. He developed and implemented new student outdoor orientation programs at two universities, and served as Director of Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services at the University of Puget Sound for 17 years. Bob even did a short stint creating and leading outdoor programs for REI, an outdoor cooperative retailer based in Washington.

Over the years, and continuing until his death, Bob served with the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) as a lead reviewer of outdoor education and therapeutic wilderness programs internationally, traveling to far flung and remote locations. He also served on AEE regional and international conference planning committees, including convening two AEE regional conferences at Fort Lewis College in recent years. Bob also served on the Board of Directors of Durango Nature Studies.
Most recently Bob was Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Experience Collaborative with Jay Zarr and Andrea Parrish. EC’s mission is “Enhancing your strengths through experiential consulting and training.
Bob leaves many friends in the professional outdoor educator’s world. There are many who could share a good story or two, of learning, and outdoor adventures with Bob. If you have any, feel free to post them in the comment section below.
There will be service, both live and online, celebrating the life of Bob on the 25th of September 2022. Please get in touch if you would like more info.
We miss you Bob!
Randall

Randall Richards, Director/Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute
Mountain Spirit Ltd, NZ

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One Response to “Robert Stremba, EdD 1947-2022”

  1. yurt adventures Says:

    Here’s a link to an interview with Bob – https://youtu.be/0bmESGNecQU

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