The TUA Outdoors video series, guided by Dr. Steven Sassaman, Assistant Director of Recreation, Outdoor Education & Wellness at Temple Ambler, is designed to highlight fun, hands-on outdoor experiences that you can enjoy at home or almost anywhere! You may find all of the TUA Outdoors videos on the Temple Ambler YouTube channel

How to Set Up a Tent  

What better way to enjoy the seasons than being outdoors? In this video, Dr. Sassaman walks you through the steps of setting up a tent! Sleeping out under the stars can be quite an experience but depending on conditions you may want a solid shelter to protect you from bugs and the elements. There are many options when it comes to tents that serve this purpose. This video will provide an overview of how to set up a tent using basic principles and practices that can be applied to any model you may find yourself sleeping in.

Stakes 101 

his is a particularly high stakes video — it’s all about stakes! Dr. Sassaman continues his key steps for setting up a tent. An important consideration in ensuring that your tent is set up securely is taking time to stake out your tent properly. This can include choosing to upgrade your stakes to meet varying ground conditions. By taking time to identify a suitable area and driving the stake in precisely at a 45-degree angle one can ensure a secure and comfortable set up.

Packing Up Your Tent 

For the final part of our tent trilogy, it’s time to pack up and hit the trail. Dr. Sassaman, continues his key steps for tent success! Maybe you’re on a multi-day expedition in nasty weather conditions, or you may simply want to create some solid habits while cleaning up your campsite after a great evening outdoors. Taking time to protect your tent as you pack it up will ensure that you prolong the life of your gear as well as help you set up your tent efficiently when you make it to the next destination. Remember when you get home from your adventure to unpack your tent so that it can dry out before storing long term. We recommend storing your tent in a large mesh laundry bag rather than the stuff sack you use to carry on the trail.

The Rule of Three 

Dr. Sassaman provides an easy way to remember our survival priorities using the “Rule of Three.” The average human can survive three minutes without air, three hours without protection from the elements, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Even for a short day hike, you want to ensure you are prepared with water to stay hydrated and layers to stay protected from the elements!


Dr. Sassaman shares a broad overview of the importance of layering during outdoor activities. He discusses the advantages and disadvantages of different materials and effective strategies for regulating your body temperature while participating in outdoor activities.

The 10 Essentials 

Dr. Sassaman discusses the importance of being prepared with your ten essentials for any outdoor activity, including short day hikes. The ten essentials include: positive mindset and plan; navigation; light source (headlamp); first aid; shelter; knife; fire-starting equipment; extra food and water purification; additional clothing for changing weather conditions; and signaling device/emergency communication. 

Learn About Ephemeral Pools With the Temple Ambler Field Station 

In this video, Mary Cortese, Research Assistant with the Temple Ambler Field Station, explores ephemeral, or vernal pools and their place in the ecosystem of the Temple Forest Observatory. A vernal, or ephemeral, pool is a seasonal body of water similar to a small pond that fills with rain every season.

Backyard Scavenger Hunt: Making Plant Discoveries 

What are all of those plants in your yard and in your neighborhood? Can you tell a woody plant from an herbaceous plant; a monocot from a dicot; a compound leaf from a simple leaf? How about a single flower versus an inflorescence? Join Ben Snyder, Manager of the Tyler School of Art and Architecture Greenhouse Education and Research Complex at Temple Ambler, as he guides you on a scavenger hunt of discovery. Ben will provide information on the different types of plants and tips on identifying plans that you can find right in your own environment. How many can you identify?

Leave No Trace 

Before we go anywhere, we need to learn about “Leave No Trace.” When camping, hiking or simply enjoying the outdoors, it is essential to leave any place you have visited as you found it. In this video, Mary Cortese, Research Assistant with the Temple Ambler Field Station and PhD Candidate in the Temple University Biology Department, provides an overview of the “Seven Tips for Leave No Trace” from the Center for Outdoor Ethics. 

Day Hiking 101: Packing a Backpack 

You are ready to head out for a day of hiking! Do you know what you should take along with you? How should you carry it? Where should you store it? Join avid hiker Mary Cortese, Research Assistant with the Temple Ambler Field Station and PhD Candidate in the Temple University Biology Department, as she shares her essentials for a successful day hike! 

Exploring and Protecting Creeks and Streams 

We’re heading out into Temple University Ambler’s 187 acres to explore creeks and steams on campus with Mary Cortese, a Research Assistant with the Temple Ambler Field Station and PhD candidate in Biology at Temple! Mary will talk about why these streams are important and how you can do your part to protect them!