Statement of Intent

What is outdoor adventure education?

There are many views concerning outdoor adventure education. It also operates in many contexts including, formal and non-formal education, youth social work, adult education and therapeutic work. There is, however, a great deal of common ground.

The aims of OAE are generally understood to be to develop an awareness of and respect for self, others and the environment. Whilst some forms of OAE claim to address al three of these themes, others foreground one or two with the others becoming background and context. The land or seascape, the other people present as peers or facilitators and the choice of activity are all considered significant pedagogic elements. Outcomes claimed range from academic, personal, social, environmental, aesthetic to spiritual in nature. Impacts include affects on identity, relationships, confidence, aspiration, well being, sense of place, values, knowledge, skills, academic performance, group cohesion, purpose and maturation.

Practitioners seem to agree that OAE comprises direct experience (i.e. experiential education) and active learning (i.e. learning by doing), a journeying element, outdoor activities and simple and extended community living. There is generally a strong belief in holistic and student centred approaches.

Professional standards tend to focus on the skills of teaching and learning, building a learning community, physical and emotional safety and the protection of the environment from overuse.

Issues affecting the development of OAE

These are some of the key trends and issues influencing the directions in which OAE is developing:

Mind and body. 

There have been many debates over the centuries about the relationship between mind and body. In modern education, the debate concerns whether or not a primarily intellectual form of education is adequate for the proper development of the individual, or whether a more direct, non-abstract form of educational experience is more appropriate

Relationship between the individual and society. 

As civilization moves and change accelerates, many individuals become disconnected from society. They feel that they have no control and influence through the political process to bring about beneficial changes in their lives and within their communities. Practitioners can work outdoors to help people to identify areas where they can take control of their lives and take a more active part in their communities.

Relationship between individuals and the environment. 

Environmental issues are of increasing importance in the political agenda, yet many people live an urban life which does not allow them to experience the relationship between their actions and the elements which support life on earth. Outdoor adventure education can provide direct contact with the natural world, which can enable people to develop informed values and opinions.