ePortfolio: Dr. Simon Priest


This page is an eclectic collection of some past inventions and imaginative play outcomes. Creatively, these were the least popular, but the most fun I had. The popular ones ended up in some of the books shown below. This is where I point out that my most joyous "writing while running" experiences have been with Dr. Michael Gass.



EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP IN ADVENTURE PROGRAMMING (THIRD EDITION): I am pleased to announce the 2017 publication of our third edition of this best selling textbook used by the majority of universities with outdoor adventure programs all around the globe. The latest copy from Human Kinetics comes with a digital field handbook and instructor's guide (edited by Brent Bell with contributed lesson plans from experts in their fields). My heartfelt thanks to Mike Gass for suggesting we do a new version after twenty years as number one and to following through on his writing load so as to keep me going. Although this is no longer my area of expertise, I have fond memories of the profession.



BOOKS & ARTICLES: Here are a few publications where I hold the copyright (or share it with my co-authors). Clicking on a book does nothing at the present time, but I hope in the future to have Common Content licenses in effect for some of these texts. Meanwhile, email me and I'll see if I have a copy for sale to those who want one. Clicking on an article's title opens a new page with a freebie that you can use for educational purposes, but you need Acrobat Reader. To keep its length reasonable, I've reduced this list to the top 20 articles most requested by graduate students.


  1. Priest, S.  (2001).  Program Evaluation Primer.  Journal of Experiential Education, 24(1): 34-40.
  2. Gordon, S., Harcourt-Smith, K., Hay, K., & Priest, S.  (1996).  Case study of Blue Watch on STS Leeuwin.  Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 13(1), 4-8.
  3. Priest, S.  (1993).  A new model for risk taking.  Journal of Experiential Education, 16(1), 50-53.
  4. Priest, S. & Bunting, C. J.  (1993).  Changes in Perceptions of Risk and Competence for whitewater canoeing.  Journal of Applied Recreation Research, 18(4), 265-280.
  5. Priest, S. & Carpenter, G.  (1993).  Changes in Perceived Risk and Perceived Competence for Adventurous Leisure.  Journal of Applied Recreation Research, 18(1), 51-71.
  6. Priest, S. (1992).  Factor Exploration and Confirmation for the Dimensions of an Adventure Experience.  Journal of Leisure Research, 24(2), 127-139.
  7. Friedrich, M., Hatton, C., Naismith, M., Wensink, J. & Priest, S.  (1992).  Functions of Wilderness Privacy in Canadian Outdoor Recreation.  Journal of Applied Recreation Research, 17(3), 234-254.
  8. Priest, S. & Bugg, R.  (1991).  Functions of Privacy in Australian Wilderness Environments.  Leisure Sciences, 13(3), 247-255.
  9. Carpenter, G. & Priest, S.  (1989).  The Adventure Experience Paradigm and Non-outdoor Leisure Pursuits.  Leisure Studies, 8(1), 65-75.
  10. Priest, S.  (1988).  The Ladder of Environmental Learning.  Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 5(2), 23-25.
  11. Priest, S.  (1986).  Redefining Outdoor Education:  A matter of many relationships.  Journal of Environmental Education, 17(3), 13-15.



  1. Gass, M.A. & Priest, S.  (2006).  The Effectiveness of Metaphoric Facilitation Styles in Corporate Adventure Training (CAT) Programs.  Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1): 78-94.
  2. Priest, S., Gass, M., & Fitzpatrick, K.  (1999).  Training corporate managers to facilitate: The next generation of facilitating experiential methodologies?  Journal of Experiential Education, 22(1): 50-53.
  3. Priest, S. & Gass, M. A.  (1997).  An examination of problem-solving versus solution-focused facilitation styles in a corporate setting.  Journal of Experiential Education, 20(1), 34-39.
  4. Priest, S. & Montelpare, W.  (1995).  Prediction of heart rates on a ropes course from simple physical measures.  Journal of Experiential Education, 18(1), 25-29.
  5. Priest, S. & Lesperance, M. A.  (1994).  Time Series Trend Analysis in corporate team development.  Journal of Experiential Education, 17(1), 34-39.
  6. Priest, S., Attarian, A. & Schubert, S.  (1993).  Conducting Research in Experience-based Training and Development Programs: Pass keys to locked doors.  Journal of Experiential Education, 16(2), 11-20.
  7. Bronson, J., Gibson, S., Kishar, R. & Priest, S. (1992).  Evaluation of Team Development in a Corporate Adventure Training Program.  Journal of Experiential Education, 15(2), 50-53.
  8. Gass, M., Goldman, G. & Priest, S.  (1992).  Constructing Effective Corporate Adventure Training Programs.  Journal of Experiential Education, 15(1), 35-42.
  9. CATInate Abstracts (summaries of ETD studies 1 through 30)



KNOTS & ANCHORS: As a mathematics fanatic as a kid, I had a penchant for puzzles and especially topology. As a climber, I liked to tie different knots. One day in 1975, while playing around with some rope, I created a variation of the "hunter's bend" (AKA rigger's bend). Once I had this figured out, I invented what climbing friends came to call the "Priest's Cross" and used it as an adjustable anchor attachment. Since half of any load on the rope passed directly through the knot unimpeded, it was strong and easily untied and/or adjusted after heavy loading from falls while climbing.



FOOTWEAR: In 1970's, I was doing a lot of backpacking and climbing with friends in my high school and later university outdoor clubs. I ran and played basketball at the time and was constantly wearing out my expensive sneakers on Vancouver trails or British Columbia cliff faces rather than on tracks or ball courts. I wrote to Nike with my ideas for developing climbing shoes (1976) and to Adidas about the same for hiking boots (1977). They were kind enough to prepare prototypes (see pics below) based on the diagrams I sent them, but neither design saw much popularity. Limited sales of both meant that I didn't enjoy anything in the way of royalties, but I got free footwear for a few years!



CLIMBING GEAR: In the late 1970's and early 1980's, before going off to graduate school, I experimented with these two designs: the Varian (a rachet-angled and adjustable ice climbing tool begun in 1978) and the Solo Plate (a self-belay device for climbing alone started in 1979). Larry Penberthy, Chief Engineer for Mountain Safety Research, worked with me to manufacture and stress test some samples. I was a great admirer of his work and of MSR's stoves, helmets, and ice axes, so our brief time together in Seattle is a fond memory that I will cherish. Simultaneous trends toward exchangeable pick pieces for ice tools and solo climbing techniques without belay managed to quickly make my ideas obsolete!



THE T.E.A.M. PUZZLE: When I was doing a great deal of team-building facilitation in the 1980's and 1990's, I needed to invent different puzzles to challenge the groups. My good friend, Karl Rohnke, had written a couple of dozen books on puzzles, games, and initiatives in this field. He helped me to refine the 1982 TEAM puzzle you see below based on the ancient Chinese Tangrams. Over time, I constructed more than 40 puzzles, covering the digits 0 through 9, all letters of the alphabet, and some punctuation marks. The TEAM puzzle was a best seller for Grip-it, a now defunct company that produced them until the early 2000's, but the design also made it into some of the books that Karl and I wrote during that time period.



AVALANCHE SAFETY: In the late 1970's, we experienced some unfortunate avalanche deaths in British Columbia. I was the Safety Chairman and Executive Director of the Federation of Mountain Clubs for BC at the time and was asked to prepare a safety brochure for the Outdoor Recreation Council. I presented this outcome at an international geotechnology conference held in Vancouver in 1980. I got up infront of 500 scientists and talked for five minutes, handing everyone a copy. They were gracious. At 21, this was my very first presentation of thousands to follow, but I can recall how afraid I was to be speaking in public for the first time! The brochure was replicated by avalanche equipment providers, like LifeLink, who gave a free copy to anyone who purchased a backcountry snow shovel, set of probe poles, or a tranceiver/beacon in the 1980's.



SWAN FALLS TRAIL: During my first year at university, Gordon Swan, myself, and other Simon Fraser University Outdoor Club members volunteered our time to build trails around Buntzen Lake, north east of Vancouver, for BC Hydro. We built a trail to the base of a large waterfall that I named Swan Falls for Gordon's efforts to coordinate the volunteers. I wrote this report for Whisky Jack Outdoor Magazine in 1976 at the age of 18! It was my very first publication of hundreds to follow. On returning to the area, I was recently struck by the changes I saw. The waterfall name had taken hold and Swan Falls and Buntzen Lake had become popular hiking destinations. An extensive trail system now surrounded the lake, and the trail we built continued to the top of the mountain, through the meadows, and then descended the ridge back down to three very enlarged parking lots.



KEY PENINSULA TRAILS SYSTEM: I had a house on the Key Peninsula in the middle of Puget Sound for about 20 years. I spent some great summers walking on the trails and beaches. I sold the house on the day I created this ePortfolio, so I thought it fitting to include the trails system that Caril Ridley and I worked on through various "Key Pen" groups. The peninsula was pretty much like an island with only one main road and one back road onto it. Surrounded by water on all but the north side, it was a veritable wilderness of forests and lakes. We designed five trails in an interconnected system. The kayaking trail circumnavigated the beaches, while the automobile trail drove around to historical sites. We produced community books on these two and a television show to highlight the region. The hiking trail went from head to toe linking various parks likes pearls strung on a necklace. The bicycling trail traced a figure 8 on roads and paths. Books for these two were in development, but we never had enough time to finish the projects. The equestrian trail connected horse farms along roads or trails, while a multi-user trail crossed the top of the peninsula linking it to trails in adjoining counties and into the city of Gig Harbor.



INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: I've traveled to more than one hundred countries to learn about their cultures and histories. I have been invited to teach, present, and facilitate in about half of those. As a guest scholar from Canada, my Visiting Fellowships have included working at about two dozen institutions in: the USA, Australia, Germany, China, England, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, etc. Nevertheless, I remain eager to visit the rest of the nations in white on this map and experience more through enjoyable international travel!



THERMOGENIN IN BROWN ADIPOSE TISSUE: My undergraduate degree is in Biochemistry and for my Honour’s Project, I studied Non-Shivering Thermogenesis  in Brown Adipose Tissue.  Please bear with me as I attempt to explain this complex topic in more detail for those who have asked.

Human body fat (adipose) comes in two forms: white and brown.  White fat is used to generate energy for body needs (like exercise) and is abundantly present in humans.  White adipocytes (cells) contain a single fat (lipid) droplet (like oil) and very few mitochondria (the structure that is a cellular energy engine).  Brown fat is used to generate heat to keep the body warm, but is very sparsely distributed in adult humans (it is more common in new born humans and hibernating mammals, where staying warm without the ability to exercise is a necessary piece of “survival of the fittest”).  Brown adipocytes contain multiple droplets and a great many iron-rich mitochondria which give it a brown colouring.

Humans generate heat (thermogenesis) by several means: through exercise, as a bi-product of chemical metabolism , and by shivering or non-shivering methods.  In the initial three methods, heat is the result of fuels being aerobically (in the presence of oxygen) metabolized (burned or chemically converted) into water and carbon dioxide within the mitochondrial energy engines.  Through this process, and the use of many metabolic steps, one sugar molecule (glucose, formed from fats) can produce 38 ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) molecules which store high energy for later use by the body muscles and other organs.  Metabolizing ATP molecules during muscular exercise or other work will release lots of energy and heat.

In the last method, non-shivering thermogenesis, the normal energy production process is decoupled or separated so that only 2 ATP molecules are generated and the leftover energy (that would have gone into forming the missing 36 ATPs) is simply released as heat to warm the body.  This explains why so many mitochondria are present in brown adipose cells.  The molecule that uncouples the energy production process in mitochondria, called Thermogenin, was originally discovered in 1978.

By 1980, biochemists believed that white fat could be converted to brown fat and that humans could therefore lose weight via this conversion.  Pharmaceutical companies funded our 1981 research in the hopes that a pill could someday cause the conversion and then be prescribed for human weight loss.  As an aside, thirty years later, evidence was found that sympathetic nervous stimulation and noradrenaline secretion leads to the conversion of white to brown, but the magic pill still remains elusive to this day.

As a budding researcher, I was assigned to replicate and extend the original research of those scientists who discovered Thermogenin.  My work confirmed and supported their original findings in hamsters.  The diagram below shows our understanding of how the process worked at that time with Thermogenin (now called Un-Coupling Protein 1 or UCP1, because other related variations have since been identified).

In response to cold stress, the sympathetic nervous system secretes noradrenalin (norepinephrine), a hormone and neurotransmitter, that binds to a Beta-Adrenergic Receptor on the cell membrane.  Once this hormonal activator binds to the receptor outside the mitochonrion, it releases a G-protein inside to activate Adenylyl Cyclase.  The Adenylyl Cyclase enzyme catalyses the conversion of existing ATP stores to cAMP (cyclic Adenosine Mono-Phosphate).  The presence of elevated cAMP levels encourages another enzyme, Protein Kinase A, to add a phosphate to Hormone Sensitive Lipase, thereby activating it.  This latter enzyme proceeds to break up stored fat into free fatty acids that become available as fuel for the mitochondrial energy engines.  The intermediate enzyme, Protein Kinase A, along with the rise in free fatty acids, also brings about the creation of extra Thermogenin (transcribed within the cell nucleus, for use inside the mitochondria).  Elevated levels of the former enzyme, Adenylyl Cyclase, also ensures a gradient against further ATP formation thereby enabling additional heat release to warm the body. 

The mitochondria has several important features as shown: the outer membrane, the inner membrane, the intermembrane space (between both), and the matrix (the guts within the inner membrane).  The insides contain folds of the inner membrane to create cristae or peninsula like protrusions that increase the surface area for enhanced molecule transfers and chemical reactions.  The matrix is where most of the energy conversions take place (Kreb’s cycle, ATP synthesis, and fatty acid oxidation), but across the inner membrane is where Thermogenin works its magic by increasing the permeability to allow protons to “leak” back into the matrix from the intermembrane space, thereby decreasing ATP production and increasing heat generation instead.  So far, Thermogenin has only been found in brown adipose tissue.

In summary, we can compare the typical creation of ATP (as carried out by mitochondria in almost every cell in the human body and in most other plants and animals) with the unique generation of heat (as produced only in brown adipose mitochondria).  Typically, protons (hydrogen ions without their electron) are pumped from the matrix into the intermembrane space across the inner membrane.  The initial energy to transport the protons is provided from the breakdown of metabolic fuels (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins).  This pumping of protons creates an energy gradient from one area having few protons and the other area having many, much like the electrical potential created by batteries.  In fact, the human body also moves electrons in a similar manner to create micro-voltages for nerves, muscles, and other tissues.  This same electron transport chain is also necessary to pump protons.

Once the gradient is established, protons are allowed to slip back from the intermembrane space into the matrix through ATP Synthase, the enzyme found in the inner member that synthesizes ATP from ADP and Phosphate using the energy released by protons flowing back.  Thermogenin provides a short cut for protons by opening a portal that allows them to slip back without their energy being used to make ATP and so their energy is released as heat.  An abundant vascular system of capillaries distributes the heat throughout the body and, as warming occurs, noradrenalin secretion diminishes.  This feedback along with other inhibitory mechanisms turns off the brown adipose tissue until it is needed again.



PHOTOGRAPHY (A2G): I've volunteered to teach photography since 1980. Back then, I dreamed up the "from A to G method" by analyzing my own work and thought processes. I have found it a valuable sequence for teaching and taking photos. WARNING: images are from before 1983 (scanning the original film slides in 2003 hasn't made them as crisp as I would like, but you get the basic idea). The order goes something like this:

  • A = Assess - what are your reasons for taking the image?
  • B = Be creative - follow creative tips & tricks!
  • C = Composition
  • D = Depth of Field
  • E = Exposure
  • F = Focus
  • G = Go!



MY PHOTOGRAPHS: The 2 paired photos below are the best I can offer right now for folks who need recent pics of me for talks I might give or learning sessions I might facilitate. Click on your choice to get its full sized version.



MY BIOGRAPHIES: A friend specializing in PR & Communications, Shelby Chamberlain, wrote these bios of different lengths. Again, people who need bios for conferences may want to copy and paste the bits they like.

Dr. Simon Priest has led university teaching and learning centers, managed continuing education schools, and studied teaching excellence for over two decades. As an education professor, he has taught courses for faculty and students in best pedagogies, teaching excellence, learning models, instructional methods, e-learning quality, emerging technologies, data analytics, grant application, contract management, inquiry philosophy, program evaluation, research, and statistics. He currently consults for higher education on teaching excellence, measuring academic quality, emerging education technologies, future university, competency-based curriculum, innovation, entrepreneurship, transdisciplinary collaboration, and upcoming generations of learners.



Dr. Simon Priest was a tenured Full Professor in Experiential Education and Executive Director emeritus of the Corporate Adventure Training Institute at Brock University in Ontario. At that time, he was designated as the world's leading authority on outdoor leadership and the efficacy of corporate experiential training and development programs. He received 15 scholarly awards for excellence in teaching, research, ethics, and service.  He was invited as a visiting academic or guest professor at more than 25 universities around the world.
He has co-authored several best selling textbooks (some translated into German, Japanese, and simplified Mandarin and Cantonese) including these gold standards for many experiential teamwork and leadership development providers:
  • EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP in Adventure Programming (with Mike Gass),
  • ADVENTURE PROGRAMMING (with John Miles),
  • 101 of the best CORPORATE TEAM-BUILDING ACTIVITIES (with Karl Rhonke),
  • 99 of the best EXPERIENTIAL CORPORATE GAMES (with Sam Sikes & Faith Evans),
  • Essential Elements of FACILITATION (with Mike Gass & Lee Gillis),
  • Essential Elements of Experiential PROGRAMMING (with Jude Hirsch).
As a transdisciplinary professor, he has taught courses in adventure programming, experiential facilitation, outdoor leadership, environmental science, organization, administration, program development, event planning, natural resources, wilderness management, program evaluation, research methods, inferential statistics, and creative outdoor photography. In addition to being a professor, he has served as a university dean, provost, vice-chancellor, and senior vice president. Today, he consults for corporations and higher education, enjoys outdoor pursuits in his spare time, and travels the world for fun.
Dr. Simon Priest has trained thousands of facilitators in over 50 nations and delivered team-building and leadership development programs to companies in almost 100 countries. While President & CEO of virtualteamworks.com, he hosted three Technology Think Tanks, designed novel virtual team-building events, developed electronic facilitation techniques, created online diagnostic instruments, and authored unique virtual team-building groupware. Partnering with John Chen and GeoCaching.com, he co-created GeoTeaming.com and its many variations of the GPS-based scavenger hunt.
He has worked with hundreds of corporations across a wide variety of sectors. Most notable among these was a decade with Canadian Tire, where he launched a competency-based corporate university for managers in their Financial Services division, trained all employees in values-based and/or facilitative leadership, pioneered video team-building, and conducted executive expeditions. As a business professor, he has taught online college courses in leadership, teamwork, human resource management, organizational behavior, and entrepreneurship. He currently consults for corporations in facilitative leadership, conflict resolution, and transformational change.
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