Active learning and adventure outdoors can take place in a variety of environments: rural and urban, local and more remote. Outdoor education, training and recreation involve both young people and adults in a wide range of experiences, including adventurous activities on land and water and activities with an environmental focus. Methods used include skills-focused learning, problem solving, team building and self-reliant journeys and activities, with residential experience an especially valued feature.
Challenging experience outdoors impacts powerfully upon a young person’s intellectual, physical, spiritual, social and moral development.
Use of the outdoors makes a major contribution to physical and environmental education and enhances many other curriculum areas. It contributes to personal growth and social awareness and develops skills for life and the world of work. Qualities such as a sense of responsibility and a purpose in life are nurtured. There is also a great deal of intrinsic enjoyment and satisfaction to be experienced from participation in outdoor activities.
Britain has a long tradition in the field of outdoor education, training and recreation, reflecting the strong place of exploration and adventure in the British heritage.
Exceptional accomplishments in exploration and adventure, on the sea, in the mountains and in the world of nature, feature strongly in our country’s history. Reflecting this heritage, Britain has led the way in the use of outdoor learning and adventure for the development of young people, for example, through the Scout and Guide movements, Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Building self-confidence and self-esteem is fundamental to any young person’s development.
Outdoor activities provide valuable alternative, often non-competitive, avenues for achievement, as well as opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance. Through successfully facing up to the challenges which outdoor activities provide, overcoming fears and apprehensions along the way, young people make major strides in confidence, with implications for all aspects of their development.
A positive attitude to learning is essential if young people are to make the most of their education.
Participation in exciting and enjoyable outdoor activities with teachers, youth workers and peers reinforces a positive attitude to education and contributes significantly to the general ethos of a school or youth group. Direct experience out of doors stimulates and reinforces learning across many areas of the curriculum, and the use of the outdoors encourages young people to take greater responsibility for their own learning.
Awareness of the needs and contributions of others and the ability to sustain effective relationships, at work and in the family, are vital in today’s society.
Experience in the outdoors provides rich opportunities for personal and social development through carefully structured group work in challenging situations. Trust, care, tolerance and the willingness to give and accept support are all encouraged and anti-social behaviour is challenged. Opportunities are presented to exhibit and develop effective inter-personal behaviour and to work co-operatively and effectively in teams.
The purposeful use of leisure time is increasingly seen as making an important contribution to a fulfilling lifestyle.
Outdoor recreation introduces young people to a range of worthwhile leisure pursuits which will enrich their future lives, and develops the skills and knowledge essential for safe participation. Outdoor exercise contributes greatly to health and fitness and continuing participation in outdoor pursuits encourages the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle into middle age and beyond.
Our relationship with the environment is a key issue facing tomorrow’s citizens.
Active learning and adventure outdoors introduces young people to the environment in a way which develops understanding appreciation, awe, wonder and respect. It fosters sensitivity to the environment, helps young people to see themselves in a global context and helps to develop citizens with an awareness of the need for sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.
Tomorrow’s successful citizens will possess the adaptability to cope with a rapidly changing world of work and the responsibility to be an effective member of a community.
Challenging outdoor experiences promote the development of communication, problem solving and decision making skills which have currency across a range of occupations. They encourage a positive “opting in” and “can do” attitude. Young people’s horizons are broadened, new challenges come to be relished rather than shunned, and perseverance and determination are reinforced. Values and attitudes developed in a context of shared endeavour help to form a sound basis for responsible citizenship.