Office Phone: (540) 432-4439
Main Campus, Harrisonburg
Office Location: UC 136
“I strive to be faithful as a disciple of Jesus Christ, committed as a husband and father, competent and compassionate as a teacher, and actively engaged in living the life that I profess for my students. My particular calling seems to weave together health and fitness, experiential learning and adventure, and the outdoor and natural world. "
Lester R. Zook has served at EMU since 1988. He chairs the Department of Physical Education and Recreation, and teaches primarily in the Outdoor Ministry and Adventure Leadership program. He earned his B.A. from Messiah College (Health and Physical Education, 1982), a masters from Temple University (Recreation and Leisure Programming, 1985) and an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia (Higher Education Administration, 1995). In addition to teaching at EMU, Lester owns WILD GUYde Adventures, providing outdoor adventure leadership for families, youth groups, scouts, and other clients in the mountains, caves, and rivers of Virginia and West Virginia. After 20 years of leading the EMU Cross Country team, Lester retired from coaching in 2009. He was awarded the ODAC Cross Country Coach of the Year award four times and took several athletes on to the NCAA Division III National Championship in cross country and track and field. Lester is married to Robin (30 years), and they have 4 children (Ethan, Katie, Aaron, and Mary), a daughter-in-law (Melissa), a son-in-law (Jeremiah) and a grandson (Elijah James).
B.A., Messiah College (Health and Physical Education), 1982
M.Ed., Temple University (Recreation and Leisure), 1985
Ed.D., University of Virginia (Higher Education Administration), 1995
CLIMBING ROCKingham County, Virginia (2nd Edition), Harrisonburg, VA, April, 2006.
Chapt. 11: Lead Rock Climbing for Rock Climbing, co-written with Frank Niles, published by the Wilderness Education Association and Human Kinetics Publishers, April, 2009
- Leading Beyond Invincibility, Group-Think, and Other Catastrophic Attitudes, at the 2011 Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Boston MA (Oct. 7, 2011)
- Ambushed by Myself: Growing beyond Several Unexpected Leadership Pitfalls, at the 2010 Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Colorado Springs, CO (Oct. 15, 2010)
- Leading Beyond Invincibility, Group-Think, and Other Catastrophic Attitudes, at the 2009 Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Durham, NC (Oct. 16, 2009)
- Growing Great Leaders, 4 keynote addresses at the mid-Atlantic regional conference of the Mennonite Camping Association, Cove Valley Camp, PA (March 24-26, 2009)
- Human Attitudes that Lead to Suffering in the Backcountry, at the 2008 Wilderness Risk Managers’ Conference, Jackson, WY (Oct. 2, 2008)
- Sports and the Life of the Church, A workshop presented at the Binational Conference of the Mennonite Camping Association, Spruce Lake Retreat, PA (March 19, 2008).
- Human Attitudes that Lead to Suffering in the Backcountry. workshop at the Binational Conference of the Mennonite Camping Association, Spruce Lake Retreat, PA (March 19, 2008).
- Re-infusing Christian Camping with Adventure, workshop at the Binational Conference of the Mennonite Camping Association, Spruce Lake Retreat, PA (March 18, 2008).
- Adventure in Christian Camping, presentation at the Virginia Church Camp Leaders’ Gathering, Camp Overlook, VA (Nov. 27, 2007)
- Trends in Programming. A 2-session workshop at the Allegheny Sectional Conference of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, Mount Pleasant, PA (February 27-28, 2006).
- Come, Refresh, Flow. 3 keynote sessions at the Presbyterian Camp and Conference Association Annual Conference, Massanetta Springs, VA (Nov. 6, 8, and 10, 2005).
- Foundations of Programming in Christian Camping, two-session workshop at the Christian Camping International Eastern Sectional Conference, Camp Hebron, PA (Jan. 25, 2005).
- PCIA Base-Managed Climbing Instructor Course, a certification course for 4 candidates at Hidden Rocks, VA (April 12-14, 2013)
- Valley Climbing Celebration, a charity event at the EMU Climbing Wall for the local climbing community, to raise donations for Patchwork Pantry (Feb. 24, 2013)
- Human Attitudes that Lead to Suffering in the Backcountry, a guest lecture for the EMHS Outdoor Adventure Experience class (Feb. 22, 2013)
- A Future for You in Outdoor Ministry?!, a guest lecture for the EMHS Outdoor Adventure Experience class (Dec. 2, 2011)
- Competition Table Tennis, a skills session for the EMHS Racquet-Sports mini-term class (April 14, 2011)
- Being an Ally to your Co-Leader, 2 leadership training modules developed for the Student Conservation Association (March, 2011)
- Adopt-a-Crag day Coordinator, Access Fund Trail day (Sept. 2009, 2010)
- Healthy Training and Injury Prevention, a session at HIghland Retreat Cross Country Camp (Aug. 4, 2010)
- Mindful Leadership, 3 leadership training modules developed for the Student Conservation Association (April 2010)
- Meet Director for the Virginia State Cross Country Meet (2001-09)
- Home School Physical Education class for grades 1-8, Spring 2008 – present.
- Head Track and Field Coach, Eastern Mennonite High School, (2007 – 2009)
- Avoiding Incidents in the Outdoors. A workshop presented at the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Department EXTREMEFEST, Waynesboro, VA (June 3, 2006).
- Camp Horizons Advisory Board
- Coordinator for the Friends of George Washington National Forest Coalition
- JMU Table Tennis Club Visiting Coach
- Training Toward Mindful Leadership in Outdoor Adventure Risk Management, EMU Research Release (2011-12)
- Human Attitudes that Lead to Suffering in the Backcountry, EMU Research Release (2009-10)
- EMU Summer (2004) Teaching Grant: Teaching Outdoor Adventure Risk Management: Mechanisms and Mindset.
- EMU Faculty Sabbaticals: Spring, 1999, 2006.
- 20-year Service Award, Eastern Mennonite University (April, 2008).
- Old Dominion Athletic Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year: 1988, 1989, 1993, 2001
- Messiah College Falcon Club Hall of Honor (March 1995)
- Curry School of Education Dissertation Award Grant, University of Virginia, (December, 1994)
- EMU mini-grant for publication: Rockingham County VA Climbers’ Guide (1991)
- American Mountain Guides Association: Single Pitch Instructor
- Professional Climbing Instructors’ Association: Top and Base Managed Climbing Instructor Provider
- Wilderness Medical Associates: Wilderness First Responder
- Commercial Guiding Permits for Monongahela National Forest, George Washington National Forest, and Shenandoah National Park
- National Cave Rescue Commission: Orientation to Cave Rescue
- American Mountain Guides’ Association
- Professional Climbing Instructors’ Association
- National Speleological Society
- American Camping Association
- The Access Fund
- Wilderness Medical Associates: Wilderness First Responder recertification, Gettysburg, PA (May 11-12, 2013)
- Virginia Ecumenical Camp and Conference Center Leaders’ Gathering, Camp Overlook, VA (Nov. 27, 2012)
- AMGA Single Pitch Climbing Instructor recertification, New River Gorge, WV (Dec. 10-11, 2011)
- Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Boston MA, CO (Oct. 5-7, 2011)
- Virginia Assoc. for Health,Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Reston VA (Nov. 12, 2011)
- PEG 120 Racquetball (Spring 2013)
- PEG 111 Backcountry Travel (Spring 2011)
- REC 202 Facility Design and Supervision in Sport and Recreation (Spring 2011)
- PEG 119 Cave Exploration (Spring, 2010)
- REC 302 Experiential Education and Adventure Leadership (Fall 2009)
- REC 303 Adventure Leadership Seminar (Fall, 2010)
- EMU Wellness Committee
- EMU Undergraduate Council
- EMU Table Tennis Club Faculty Adviser
- EMU EXPLORE (outing club) Faculty Adviser
- EMU Commons Council
- Coordinator, EMU Camp Placement Day (Feb. 6, 2013)
- Nature through the Eyes of an Adventurer, EMU Chapel presentation (April 20, 2012)
- The TCK Experience, a panel discussion in Common Grounds about the Third Culture Kid experience (March 15, 2012)
- Starting Your Own Business, presentation at EMU’s Calling and Career Day (Feb. 17, 2010)
- Starting a Small Business, a presentation in EMU’s BUAD 471 Topics in Business Administration class (Sept. 14, 2010)
- Interim EMU Head Cross Country Coach (Fall 2010)
- Interim EMU Head Indoor Track and Field Coach (Winter 2009-10)